Something that I can't Let Go

This year I have been cleaning up.

I've gone from room to room decluttering, rearranging, organizing, adding a few things, repairing. I've made bold choices that I haven't been able or willing to make for years. I've ripped up floors, replaced countertops, painted walls, given away lots and lots of things, and added pieces that fit where our family is today.

It felt like it was time to let go of the way things had been and make room to move around and welcome new ways.

There are things that will always have a place with me. Things that pull on my heart with a golden rope that goes directly to someone who is pulling right back at me.

Angus' last paw print. His posthumous paw print.

Angus is our second Dane, by the way. He died in 2012 a few weeks after his tenth birthday.

I found this in an open bubble mailer a few days ago and collapsed. I pulled it out, gasped for air like there was no oxygen in the room, and sank to the floor with this piece in my hand.

I have so many mixed emotions about this paw print.

I mean, isn't it weird that I cherish this thing when it was made after death? I think about that and feel frustrated, because what I really want to cherish is the living version of Angus. The larger-than-life, in-your-face version of Angus who knew no pain and had no fear.

In Angus' case, his death was terrible. It wasn't a "good" death. I have so many regrets about his last week of life, which was spent at the hospital, and I feel okay owning those. It's okay for me to wish I would have done something different for him while acknowledging that I did the best I could at the time.

How appropriate that somewhere along the way, this imprint of his paw broke apart and what I have is a bag with pieces. Even so, I hold this in my hand . . . I put my fingers in the places where his lifeless, massive front paw was . . . and I feel him. I feel what it was like to be with someone enormous in all ways. I remember that his foot was the size of my hand. I remember how he'd come to me while I was standing, rest his chin on my clavicle (yes, that far up - although I am a small person), and hope that I'd scratch the back of his neck. I remember how he'd use those massive paws to run like he was being chased by a cheetah, and how he'd stomp through the house dragging a blanket to curl up in.

If you've ever had a favorite blanket, you know how vital it is to have it with you just in case you want to rest.

I appreciate this broken piece. In this clay is an invitation for me to feel those last brutal days of Angus' life as well as 3,650 days I shared with him that were really, really amazing.

I checked the math on this, and 3,650 is indeed greater than six. By a factor of 608. So I am coming out way ahead. Even though sometimes what I feel is the six.

That's okay. It's very human.