Thursday, January 12, 2012

two things I learned from heartbreak

Losing Jasper last year, may he rest in tremendous doggy peace, was the biggest heartbreak I have ever known. Even now writing about it, almost a year later, I can barely see the damn laptop screen through my own tears.  I have never ceased missing him, even as the charming and ridiculously cute Mr Burns has come along to fill the enormous void left by Jasper's passing.  And oh how Mr Burns does fill the void!  He is so wonderful.

In the shattering cataclysm of Jasper's death, I learned two things, two things that have changed me for the rest of my life.

The first is that I need somebody to love and care for, preferably a dog, or else I'm only part-living.  I probably should have had a dog always and can't believe I had that long break from age 12 to age 34 without a canine companion.  Of course I can understand all the reasons why that was best under all of the many circumstances, but it won't happen again.  Everything is better with a dog.  Everything.

But the bigger lesson is really the lesson that Jasper was teaching me every day, that I didn't really fathom until I kept waking up in a house empty of his sounds.  That if there's something you really want to do, then you should do it. Don't over-think -- such a silly human habit. Do. 

There were so many things I wanted to do to celebrate the great blessing of Jasper in my life, silly things really, things like having his portrait done or his photo with Santa or a fancy tag or a sweater, things that were truly ridiculous but also cute and sweet and fun.  I didn't do any of them.  Instead, two weeks after he left us so quickly, the fancy custom tag I'd finally ordered for him in what I didn't realize was his last week of incarnation, showed up in my mailbox but no collar to put it on. I wore it around my neck for months, rueing that I hadn't done even that simplest little thing.

Of course, Jasper didn't give a shit about what tag he wore.  He could care less, although he loved that collar of his, lovingly carrying around when we took it off him, "cleaning it" with his gooey tongue, but never biting through it although he could have, in the 10 years he had that thing, destroyed it in under a minute.  But it would have mattered to me, to make the goofy public expression of how struck dumb I was by my love for him, by his huge presence in my life, my life that became such a parched little desert after he left.

Into all of that, why resist the impulse to buy him a sweater or put a pair of antlers on him at Christmas or have his portrait done at least once?

Sure, I'm perfectly aware of the absurdity of it all, but who cares? Life is short, sometimes people you love, including dogs, are snatched from you with no notice at all. Every moment is a moment to celebrate, even when other people think it's silly, maybe even MORE SO when other people think it's silly.

The delightful Mr Burns is the beneficiary of this learning. So far he has only one little jacket -- adorable, reversible -- but there will be more. He has two costumes, neither of which he tolerates for long, but both of which make me laugh and laugh. He has my heart completely and I have his, and now I also have this gorgeous portrait of him.

So worth it. That Jasper was so right. The key to a life of happiness is following the happy impulses that come along, not thinking them right out of existence. Just following them, doing the little things that make me happy. Not overthinking. Doing.  Thanks, Jassie.  Love and miss you always.

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