Vietnam Veterans Day

Reblogged to friendwise.wordpress.com

Just Cruisin 2

vvd

Today is a day to show respect for and reflect on
the sacrifices of our Vietnam veterans. These brave
men and women returned home to protests and ridicule
instead of accolades and parades.

58,286 lost their lives, 153,303 were WIA, and
1,643 are MIA. During the war 30% of those wounded
died.

“If you are able, save for them a place inside
of you and save one backward glance when you are
leaving for the places they can no longer go.

Be not ashamed to say you loved them, though
you may or may not have always. Take what they
have taught you with their dying and keep it with
your own.

And in that time when men decide and feel safe
to call the war insane, take one moment to embrace
those gentle heroes you left behind.”

Major Michael Davis O’Donnell
1 January 1970
Dak To, Vietnam
Listed…

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Healing

Finally, amid the swirl of grieving, sadness, pain, and emptiness comes the peace and calm of healing. The beginnings of which we recognize, with renewed hope that we have not really lost, just changed the relationship. The pain is honoring in its way, of the one we miss and pine for. The healing comes as a cleansing wash of warmth and grace over the iciness of loss, the sharp finality of death.

People recommended and even sent me many books to read after Murphy died a few of which I have read, some I have not, and one, Saying Goodbye by Linda and Allen Anderson (authors and owners of http://www.angelanimals.com) which helped the most by assisting me in examining my relationship to Murphy. Not in a calculating or analytic way, just gently encouraging me to ask myself questions about our first encounter, things about him that made him who he was in his quirks, needs, personality, what he taught me, and how I felt when he passed. How did he appear in the moments before. When I think of this, I see and feel him in my arms and as the anesthesia took effect he did not appear to alter in any way, his breathing imperceptably stopped and as I placed him for the vet’s nurse to take him away could feel the limpness of his little body, lifeless but I still somehow felt his presence with me. That is how I knew he is still part of me, not something like a light that had merely been turned off.

I won’t miss the difficulty he had at taking his medicine or even refusing to eat his hand-fed meals those last days, or  the way he looked at me when he was too tired to move. I know because of the nature of grief I will still have moments maybe longer periods where I am sad and miss him, miss his little dance before we went for a walk, miss how he’d prance for a stranger or friend, hoping for a little attention or a pat, miss his play bow where he’d pound his paws onto the floor challenging me to a chase, or bounce after a bouncy ball to bring it back to me, drop it and wait expectantly for me to throw it and applaud him as he raced it back to me.

Who he was in health and joy, remains.

Laundry

This is not one of my least favorite chores but something I do routinely, like most people. I live alone so the washing machine is my laundry basket, thereby eliminating middle-steps to the hamper and expediting the whole process I guess.

Anyway, yesterday was such a beautiful day I decided to do a bit of advance spring cleaning and wash bath mats and dog blankets. Picking up my late beloved Murphy’s 3 ultra-soft blankets I paused and held them to my nose, inhaling deeply. I could no longer detect his smell. This made me incredibly sad, but also posed a dilemma: ought I to go ahead and wash the blankets? They were his after all, and besides me were pretty much the last things he touched. I had already been able to put away his numerous water bowls I had placed for him, conveniently so he wouldn’t have to walk too far to get a drink. I decided in tribute to him I would wash the blankets and dry them outside so they would have the springy-bright sunshine smell after they had dried.

I know that there are some people who remove everything of a deceased pet’s immediately after the pet passes. This may be simpler I suppose, no lingering reminders creating echoes of sounds and sights of the pet. It’s not as though I thought Murphy was actually going to return, nor that some sepulchral self of him would come back to visit the dog beds or water bowls. It was just something final about removing these things that I could not make myself do. I sharply remembered once when I tripped over a water bowl, spilling water everywhere and became so angry I kicked it outside, breaking it into too many pieces to glue back together. I put the pieces in the trash and for days after Murphy wandered over to the trash can, sniffing at the top as though he knew it was in there and wanted it back. No, I needed to see these things, knowing the pain of his not returning to them. Their emptiness and uselessness somehow amplified his absence. Not that I enjoy being maudlin or grieving, but somehow I felt it would dishonor him to simply whisk away his things, as though I had just broken a precious vase and were sweeping it away.

Miss Woofie

Lily became part of our pack after Murphy’s buddy Savannah died. She was a border collie and Murphy adored her. I thought he would enjoy another friend but I guess no one could be like Savannah. Anyway, I adopted Lily from the pound, nobody seemed to know what kind of dog(s) she was but she looked a lot like a combination of husky and golden retriever to me. She was about a year, or so the pound people thought, and very high energy.

We walked. And walked. I lived in New Mexico at the time and there were some bluffs near where I lived and I could let her off leash and run to her heart’s content. She never ran far and if I started to go, she quickly caught up to me. I guess somebody tried to dump her because she never lets me get too far away.

But her eyes… almond-shaped, they are thickly rimmed in black, and when she tilts her head a certain way the soft brown glows a deep golden color, just like a wolf. So, clearly living close to what this city girl considers wilderness — I could drive 15 minutes from my house in any direction and not even see a fence post — I decided to do some research because really, nobody knew exactly where this dog came from. She was a stray.

Wolves have black-rimmed, slanted, almond-shaped golden eyes. They have a narrow girth between their front legs. Lily has a wide barrel-chest. Wolves have webbed feet. Lily has webbed feet. Wolves’ paw-span can be 4 inches or more. Lily has lovely, dainty paws, no more than 2-3 inches across. Wolves have a dark caudal spot 3-4 inches down their tail, but not a white-tipped tail. Lily has a white-tipped tail, and a patch of black hair mid-way down her golden-haired tail. But Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs have this spot also.

The teeth, however…   wolves’ canine teeth are at least an inch long. Lily’s, though impressive, are no more than 1/2 inch (yes, I really measured). And wolves howl. Lily does not howl, not even for the most incessant siren.

So I guess I can have a DNA test done, people do, but why bother? Lily and I have been friends now for almost 7 years. What difference would a test make? I love her now and I do not see how knowing whatever her genetic make-up is would make a shred of difference.

Moving On

There are some things though at first you might be afraid of leaving behind, as you move forward you find go right along with you. In dreams, thoughts, and even though there is no physical presence they really are with you. Sure, sadness hits every so often when you realize it’s not a fantasy or just imaginings and that they are tangibly no longer there. But In dreams, in your habits, routines of everyday life there is still a presence. That dimension the friend created in you stays, even if the friend is no longer there, which means the friend is still very much a part of your life.

What a relief.

Love

This is something we feel, yet it is completely intangible. It is a bond that once established remains forever. When that with which we share the bond is gone it’s almost as though an appendage has been severed, or a critical food source has stopped. We feel the hunger for the sustenance, yet we feel no real pain. What we feel is the absence of what once was. We don’t like this emptiness. We cry over it, we bemoan its end. We bargain, pray for and hope against all we have or know to have it again but we know we will not. Somehow when that reality eventually settles in our minds the cruelty of the loss becomes even sharper and we have to fill the void with memories. It helps to write or talk about that which we have lost. It helps to remember specific things we did or said or that happened. We have to remember the value of what was through what we shared or else we’ll fall into an abyss of loss. We have to be tossed a bit on the waves of grief, crying our hearts out for sadness over what we loved. Is it that we continue on, leaving the beloved behind, or is the beloved moving on, leaving us behind? Doesn’t matter. The simple fact is that love which existed only in and of and for itself, specifically between ourselves is no longer living and breathing in our dimensional world.

We have to remember. Before and after we say good-bye. And be grateful for that which we did have, for however short a time.