Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Morning walk

The alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. instead of 5:40, and I rolled over out of habit, then found I actually felt like getting up. Pum came to the bedside in the dark, her ritual morning greeting, and I felt the strong, tight curl of her tail on my wrist as she padded away again, back to her bed.

Dressed and hair wrestled down, the kit and pup kibbled, I pulled on a sweater coat and light gloves, and we were off.

Penelope is a good girl on walks, and today was so quiet I had time to notice the tall oak to the southeast was not lit from below, as it usually is on autumn and winter mornings. Against the fathomless teal just outside the bare halo of sunrise, its bent branch and filigree were achingly lovely. I had time to muse - is that quiet sound, of minimal sand on damp asphalt under my soft shoe, is that a crunch, or something gentler? I had the time to muse, but did not find the word.

Just last night, talking with mom about her puppy and my now older baby girl, I'd said how funny it is: dogs' communication is most chancy not in the dark, but at twilight and dawn - when light is there, but they can't quite see the cues dogs signal each other with. This morning, we passed a shepherd going our way briefly, but across the street, and though she clearly saw the other dog, Penelope had no response at all. No pulling, "Mom, I want to go see the other dog - and thereby make friends with its person."

Dark, still, when we got home, Pum had her sniffs and her business done, and I had all my shoulder and back muscles intact. Seven years old now, she's powerful and big enough, this still is important.


One week from today, it will be the first anniversary of my best friend's - my sister's - death. Someone who loved her hard has gone to a place the rest of us who love her can't join him, and it is heartbreaking. Two of us - two of the three who made up our little Musketeers - cling to each other, and count ourselves blessed we ever had her. We are angry still, and yet able to laugh at the ways she haunts us.

Mostly by sending Def Leppard songs at incongruous - or entirely TOO congruous - moments. She remains an inveterate smartass. And she remains with us.

I will mark her passing in a couple of ways, across the miles with our third sister, and alone - and in figuring out exactly how to dress for Hallowe'en. She always LOVED Hallowe'en, and if dressing up is memorial to her now, it is a joyous celebration.


The dark season has begun, and that means not just winter's advent. It means not just cooling and sweatering and cozying and contemplating. It means BOO, it's Hallowe'n. It means grappling and reckoning with her loss. Trips to the cemetery, and always, always down memory lane.

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