Was it really us?… NM

Thursday, December 27th, 2018

“There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief” ~ Aeschylus ~

Spirit and I

My favorite photos!…

It is early morning, for me anyhow, and sitting at the end of my sofa waiting for the coffee machine to do its thing, soon a welcome beep. Took my morning meds while I crossed off AM on my kitchen erase board leaving PM for tonight and as I wait I am staring at Spirit’s what I call shrine. I remove my eyeglasses for a minute or two, enough time to wipe off a couple tears rolling down my cheeks, a paper towel to the rescue please as my nose is suddenly stuffed up. It just does not add up this morning. Heavy rain going on, one of those days we would have had to stay in the tent probably for interminable hours. But no, I am in a house, dry and warm and cozy as finally the coffee machine sends me the message and it is ready to go. It just again does not add up. I cannot “not miss” Spirit. It just does not work that way. I don’t have a shrine for Lance. I don’t even have a photo of him up on any wall. I can’t. It is way too hard. They are in my office files. I don’t have a shrine for my Mother as I also can’t. Just a couple small photos of her out on some shelves. Maybe I should not have a shrine for Spirit. I love so deeply all my departed “loves”, not one more than the other but Spirit was special. 14 years, 24/7 as they say. Without being physically attached we were. I know… most will say “it is just a dog!”. Yup… just a dog my Friends. You don’t have to know anything else. It was and is my Life, my privilege, my gift, ours for all those years and still is throughout this present.

Running down the road 

I cannot lie, it is hard! Harder than hard. It is painful, it is lonely, it is as Life is now incomplete as “it is” incomplete. I have realized long time ago that even though my Lance lived 26 years and my Mother 86, I never spend as much one on one time as with Spirit throughout the 14 years we were together. Roughly 5100 days, 123,000 hours… Do you realize how well two individuals get to know each other when together as such for so long? I always joke that we didn’t even need to talk anymore! Maybe like those couples who have been married for 50 plus years, something I personally cannot even imagine. The eyes. It was of course always the eyes. They were our communication, with his ears his radar. When at The Oasis or anywhere else for that matter when supposedly asleep a few feet from me, and this turned into some form of a game, for me anyhow, I would try to quietly move, walk away while looking at him and sure enough one of his eyes would open up and keep track of my movements. If I was going too far he would get up, probably thinking “Oh! no, not again…”, move with me and back supposedly asleep in his curled up position. His favorite position. That is just one of our togetherness detail. There are so many more. All gone now as emptiness prevails.

Spirit and the balloons 

Acceptance is so hard, almost impossible and yet I have to, kind of as a survival instinct while keep repeating it to myself without too often a positive result. How can this be? I don’t understand. I don’t think I ever will and am I doomed living as such? What an irony just when I had the ability to offer him a real home and a car, in other words comforts which he probably did not care about and to tell you the truth I don’t either all having been a need more than anything else because of medical reasons. I often think to sell it all, leave all this behind, have another dog rescue me again, one more time, and just go. Again. I know the drill. I can mentally do it with such ease but the body is just not going to follow this time around. I really would! I feel attached by this umbilical cord to the medical profession which surrounds me as that time has arrived, that time when I cannot do without it. So it is instead a shrine dedicated to my buddy Spirit! I touch his marble etching every day and say a few kind words. Maybe he hears me? The marble is so cold unlike he was, so warm. There is no hair laying around, there are no food and water bowls, all seems so generic. I don’t lay on the floor anymore using him as a blanket to keep me warm! Oh! the so many nights we passed as such. No, he definitely was not a dog!

Spirit enjoying the ride, Utah PCTB 38

Spirit SM only

I am cursing right now. Out loud. I cannot write it because I really don’t curse but I am this morning and it is not helping. Of course not. I can pound my fists, I can scream, none will change a thing as only back to acceptance and then what? What am I doing? Nothing. Absolutely nothing only fortunate that I can write because this is my only remedy. Always has been. As another joke I tell myself at times that I should be a drunk maybe! I don’t really know what that is but sometimes it sounds good to me. I do know however that alcohol is a depressant so forget that route. Maybe a drug addict? Nooooo…. I was at one time a volunteer counselor at a drug rehab facility, many moons ago, and I know there is no future in that either. Lets not forget the money it also takes to be one! No… There is only acceptance and the now as it is while remedies do not materialize.

Classic Spirit


Our film, our movie which lasted 14 years never stops as being on a continuous loop. I control the pause and the details suddenly emerge. So many of them! Spirit often needed to be on a leash depending where we were and with two full frame cameras dangling from my neck and his leash attached to my belt he knew what they were. As soon as I would stop to take a photo or two, the instant I touched one camera to raise it, and I don’t know how he felt it as his back was always turned to me, he would lay down! A funny thing I must say and so helpful. He knew cameras for sure especially when in his sidecar and when people approached him to take his photo. That was the only time he would not shake his head to remove his goggles which otherwise he would saving me to do it myself. He would pose proudly but looking straight forward, not to the photographer. At times, and it happened often, the photographer would exclaim “look here doggie… look here…” and that would irritate [no cursing!] out of me while I would say loudly “he is a dog, not a doggie!”. I never use the strong word “hate” because of its strength in its meaning but I will use it on this occasion “I hated to hear that…”. I always thought that every home in this country and others had a photo of him. They must have… I would more often than not look for spaces where no one was there to stop and take a break. Even gas stations which would be empty of cars! Yes, we had created a Circus for sure and by late afternoon if in an urban environment I would be so tired of it…

Mr Spirit-2

There is so much more which will never fit on this page!!! Maybe another day… The film will never stop.

Spirit and the Log

Stay well,
               Ara and Spirit [R.I.P. 04~04~2018]         

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17 Responses to “Was it really us?… NM”

  1. Rebecca Stamos Says:

    I’m sorry you have the blues. I understand the feelings you are having, I call it “homesick”. I’m homesick for things that have passed, old dogs, young kids, my own youth, time keeps moving forward. Maybe you need to put on some music and have a good cry. Take care,

  2. Ara & Spirit Says:

    Yes… The music is on… Thank You.

  3. Randy Reynolds Says:

    I understand, baby sitting my grand-dog but she is not our Natasha. Rebecca is right.

  4. Steve Says:

    I totally understand how those memories never go away. I also know, memories like that never will disappear, never to return. There is no such thing as “move on” when it comes to a dog, a son or a loved mother. All you can do is fight through the pain when those memories show up again, whether they be about your mother, Lance or Spirit. Hang in there Ara. Music is a good suggestion by Rebecca.

  5. CHUCK PRYOR Says:

    I have to admit I’ve never had that kind of relationship with a dog but as I read your words I kept hearing the old saying in my mind… “’tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” Such a gift those 14+ years.

  6. Carolyn Tester Says:

    Ara, I”m hurting for you, hurting along with you. Each time I see Spirit’s picture, my eyes well up again, for his being no more, for his being being gone, for you and for myself. For my life consists of much loss through the years of my beloved animals. Knowing the time is soon to come to lose my oldest one, I also suffer grief daily, knowing of the future pain I will continue to have. Believe me, I feel your pain, deeply. There just has to be a solution, an ease for you. Grief takes us down and out too soon. I hope you in time find that solution for the devastation of your great sadness. No! a dog IS not “just” a dog. Each IS a spirit as much as we human beings are spirit, that appear in our life to lift us up in an ecstasy of love. That’s how God works matters, you know. I too, had much joy knowing your Spirit and otherwise from your writings. Thank you for this from the bottom of my heart. It will be joyous if I could know you will once again know happiness. It’s needed for one to strive onward!

  7. Ara & Spirit Says:

    Thank You for your kind words and support. It means a lot to me. Thank You my Friend…

  8. Ara & Spirit Says:

    That is a great quote my Friend. It indeed has been a Gift I will always cherish as I cherish my Friendships such as with you. Have a wonderful day. Ara

  9. Ara & Spirit Says:

    Thanks for writing Carolyn. It is the eternal question. Are you Happy? Not much else matters in our lives I feel and my answer is always “I am as happy as I am going to be”. The losses accumulate, it is indeed part of Life when “we” live and others “do not”. Somehow we were never quite prepared for that. Were we? So we battle throughout our inner and we must come up victorious so our own Life retains its meaning. The constant balance. Have a great day…. Ara

  10. Judith Says:

    The photo of Spirit running through the water is truly wonderful. Easy to see how he has that name…..still.

  11. Fred H. Says:

    I know exactly what you’re going through Ara. I was blessed with my little brown Pug Kybee for 14 years. He was “my little buddy”. I had to have him put down 2 years ago, and still today, even as I write this to you, the tears swell up in my eyes of the memories. Then the smile comes of the fond memories. When will it end? I hope never! As I never want to lose those fond memories of him.
    I’m sure you feel the same with Spirit. I wish only the very best for you Ara, that when a memory of Spirit comes to you, a smile will also appear.

  12. Ara & Spirit Says:

    Thank You Fred… Yes, I do smile often while staring ahead and replaying our images! Such incredible times we had. Once in a Lifetime experience. Hang in there also… please. Isn’t amazing? Ara

  13. Ara & Spirit Says:

    That is one of my favorite photos from The Oasis! My crazy dog!!! So fortunate that I can smile and be happy from the most incredible memories I have in Life… Thank You for writing. Ara

  14. Nicky Says:

    Wearing a warm coat, and prescription glasses that allow me to clearly see every patch of ice on the ground ahead, I can safely walk a familiar path, enjoying the spectacular winter’s scene that stretches before me. So enthralled by sunlight shimmering on snow drifts that I cannot wait to see what lies beyond the next turn, I let excitement hasten my pace.

    Take away my coat and glasses, though…I cannot see the ice or a branch to hold onto, I slip and fall. I’m left hurt, bruised, cold and without assurance that what is ahead will feel any better.

    Spirit’s love, understanding and companionship was the warm coat you wore from Georgia to where you are now. Seeing the world from both his and your own points of view were the glasses you wore as everything became familiar. A sudden wave of missing him overtakes you again…you fall-into deep grief, and at that moment, cannot foresee a place or time ahead where you will feel whole and happy again.

    Because everything is now seen with only your own eyes, this world has become a strange and unfamiliar place for you, Ara. Without Spirit’s warmth and shared vision the landscape can seem a bleak place with new roads that do not promise a brighter future vista. If someone thinks “he was only a dog”, they simply have not yet fathomed what he really was with you… a being so joined to you that now, living here without him, you have entered an entirely different realm…
    Should they ever find themselves within the state you now inhabit,may Grace be with them, may they feel a caring arm around their shoulder, may they hear an experienced voice saying ” I understand, you will be alright again someday, for now, know you are not alone.”

    Remember, Ara, that by rescuing Spirit you were saved. Focusing on taking care of him kept you from feeling completely helpless or weak as you let go of your son, traded your home with all it’s comforts for living on the road, and the security all that once held. Pour your heart into writing, be mindful of another in need of what you have to share. Your wisdom, experience, strength and kind nature will be a lifeline to rescue someone you may never meet. People are taught early on in life to pretend they are doing great, to smile as though life is a stroll through a garden of delights for them. We know better than to accept their surface only demeanor. We need to keep telling them the truth, because they may need it-and because the telling is an exercise that increases our own strength.

    Would that my wishing could remove your sorrow. I felt it coming off this page in your journal the day you published it. Before responding I needed to revisit my own loss that changed my world from one with bright shining dreams coming true into a long dark night where all the starlight had disappeared. I needed to remember how daily writing about momentary beauty was my respite from feeling shattered. I needed to look at all the connections I have with others because I gained empathy and understanding with every pain I felt, and offered that to them.

    Life is eternal, beyond all the painful moments in the valleys are hilltops with views of incomparable joy, love and beauty ahead. These months you have spent alone have not held enough time to offer your heart, soul and body much healing.You will be more than alright, Ara, you will be seen smiling and brimming with enthusiasm again. Look fondly at Spirit’s photos while that comforts you, just not for too long at a time. Walk away and look around you, at the beautiful skies, places and creatures… Look forward to wonderful times ahead, Life, and I, promise you- they will come.

  15. Ara & Spirit Says:

    It is so beautiful and so uplifting to read your wonderful prose. I feel as I cannot add a single word to yours being indeed a present reality, only to “Thank You” for them as they will never be lost or forgotten and realize the worth of this Journal. Do you realize that this Journal was not supposed to be public! A Friend of mine who set it up at the time as I had no clue what a computer was, or Internet for that matter, right before we left said “by the way, what you write will be public”. “That is okay” I replied as I only had a couple Friends and figured that it would actually be nice for them to know were we are as “they were” [trust me on that!] really concerned about us. It is refreshing to stumble on others like you who don’t just live on the surface only skimming Life but instead hike the rocky and muddy roads. Too many cliffs at times but, as you say, as you know, we do surmount them and continue doing so. These are the chapters of Life they forgot to finish writing in the “Book of Life”! Schools, parents, friends from our youth, acquaintances, no one prepared us for these chapters. So we can only help each other and again “Thank You” for helping me hoping that I also “pass it on forward”.

  16. Nicky Says:

    How for fun are, for you and for all that have read your journal, that your friend established it to be public. Had that not been the case you may well have only written for yourself. It is wondrous to see how we are given what is needed to fulfill our purpose on this journey …

    A note on Stay Well
    On a previous page you mentioned cholesterol concerns. While helping in a restaurant’s kitchen I too often had bacon and eggs, and my cholesterol level became high. I incorporated oat bran into my daily meals. Within six weeks I was back to a normal level.

  17. Ara & Spirit Says:

    The reality Nicky is that “I do” write for myself. At the same time I am aware others read it yet I am navigating on my own path. That was the original intent and still is.
    And yes on the oats!!! From 190 down to 173 a couple days ago with a goal of 160. 165 actually, that extra 5lbs is to play with such as having a PIZZA!!!or… 1/4 cup measured uncooked every morning with a cup of fruit… Sure, being a Pastry Chef the difficulty is very present but my Health is in the balance and that is worth every compromises. No bread, pasta, rice, good carbs only, very low fat… you name it! Will see what the next blood test will show. Have a great day and yes, “Stay Well”… More often than not it is a choice. Ara

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