“Sometimes,’ said Pooh, ‘the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”
Today broke peaceful; fog-muted, bathed in pastels. A morning crisp but just barely. A beautiful and perfect day.
Except that it wasn’t.
Today was the last day we had with Teazel. Teazel is–was–a lionhearted Jack Russel not much bigger than a Chihuahua whom we adopted almost ten years ago. She was a horrible citizen of a dog, the dog embodiment of, “The best of times…the worst of times.” And yet we loved her like a child.
Like so many things on the farm Teasel was recycled. We were duped into bringing her home because she was painfully cute–stubby-legged, too-big head, inquisitive eyes, and a heart-shaped black spot in the middle of her back. She chased her tail like it was an intruder and often bit it until it bled. Her answer to everything was to growl. Feed me: grrr, rub my belly: grrr, pick me up: grrr, put me down: grrr. As a result her frequent tail-snapping and constant growling she had been adopted and discarded at least six times. When she was 18 months old she landed– full of spunk, bravado, and separation anxiety–with us.
We fell in love with this staub-legged demon who would follow us into battle, and without question we became her forever home.
“I used to believe in forever, but forever’s too good to be true.” Milne
Sadly, nothing is forever. Three years ago Teazel started getting a seasonal malaise that was treated with steroids. She was on Prozac, something I judged dog owners for until I had that dog. Then there was a diagnosis of Cushing’s. And then there was the mass in her stomach, the tumor that she succumbed to today.
My heart feels weighted with loss and the cost of love, like a too-small limb on a Christmas tree hung with a magnificent, heavy ornament. Love has a cost. It is like a balance sheet: an increase in the love column is offset by grief in the loss column. Such a price to pay–love little & grieve lighter or love deeply but risk such pain.
The immediacy of loss fades, but the balance sheet remains. Fifteen years ago I said goodbye to Daisy, a dog whose love saved my life. I cradle the lock of her red fur, a memento I kept, and I tear up with equal parts love and loss that feels like I just said goodbye.
And what will go on Teazels memorial? This quote from Winnie the Pooh seems perfect: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
A special thanks to the staff at Animal Medical Center, LLC of Covington: their care and expertise gave Teazel many more tractor rides, squirrel chases, belly scratches and peaceful mornings than she otherwise would have had. Also, to Jefferson Feed whose support of animal adoptions is how we found Teazel, and why so many animals end up in loving homes.