The Road Without a Map

Today is a snow day, one of respite and rest.

I hope. Please, Great Mystery, let it be both.

Last week felt like swimming though a tsunami of grief. Since the beginning of February,  social media friends and one who lives locally had to take the sad and sacred walk to the Rainbow Bridge with their companions. I wept, sent (((hugs))), hugged in real life. Along with the tidal wave of grief came ripples of anger–anger at the diseases that claimed some of them, at the aging process, at untenable circumstances.

Orion made his passage from lymphoma at 13 1/2. Nothing, between his age and his heart condition, could be done, and even if he were eligible, was I willing to put him through hell for six months of questionable quality of life. He wound down, still insisting on two walks a day at his favorite park until he lost the ability to walk. I stayed on the floor next to him until the very end. That was the weekend before Memorial Day.

I spent that summer trying to keep walking, breathing, doing yoga, anything to stumble into the new normal through the fog of shock and grief. Labor Day brought the light that dissipated the mist. I went to the Fox Valley Folk Festival. As I sat beneath a tree enjoying a hummus wrap for lunch, I realized that I was still here, that I still felt the old maple’s support behind my back, and that the sky was still blue. I sighed, and just sat for a while. 

Later that week, I dreamed that I heard Orion at the back door. When he wanted to come in, he would let us know with a deep “wooooooof.” As I approached the door I saw the most exquisite chestnut and white puppy between his front paws.

When Oakley and I adopted each other, I found out that he’d been born that week. He was scrawny and semi-feral and had a lot of un-adorable moments, but what teenager doesn’t? With the grace of a good trainer, we moved through the challenges. 

Oaks walked me as I finally surfaced on Sunday. The clear sky hinted at spring.

I still occasionally find my nocturnal wakings smeared with the last vestiges of guilt and grief over Orion. …switched vets sooner…recognized grain allergies earlier….titered sooner or not done as many vaccs…I should have hosed him off more often to get rid of the runoff from the neighboring farm…and then Oakley’s snoring jolts me back to the present. The questions about grain based food and doubts about vaccines had only recently started to surface in the collective questioning. 

Perhaps the objective of the grief process is not so much one of getting everything sewn up into a tidy bundle. Perhaps, instead, it is a question of acknowledging the holes, accepting that they will shrink and settle over time, but still be there. 

Oakley snuffled the old snow edging the trail at the crossroads. He tilted his head upwards, and sniffed the air. We walked off to the right, into the wooded portion, not sure of trail conditions, but knowing that we would get to its end in t