This weekend will find me in gorge-ous Hood River, Oregon. We head there annually for My Fine Husband to attend an industry event.
We stay on the shores of the Columbia River, in a canine friendly hotel and soak it all in. He gets education and connects with others in his industry (he’s a pro brewer) and I get to see people I know and wander the shoreline with the Kids or work or whatever I feel moves me.
This year is particularly poignant because last year, on this exact trip, our 15+ year old beloved dog died. It was dramatic and fitting all at the same time. Her breed, Labrador Retriever, can’t get enough of water. We had arrived and were stretching legs having made the 6-hour car trip. She slipped over the bank quicker than we realized and paddled weakly in the Columbia. My husband shouted to me in that EMERGENCY tone – I ran to him, saw her in the water and immediately jumped in. I fished her out of the river, having gotten to her after her head began nodding under the surface, no longer paddling….I can understand how humans lift cars off their loved ones in a panic. Her 65 pounds of limp wet weight was nothing to me in that moment.
Your heart stops at the same time instinct kicks in. I didn’t hesitate for a moment in jumping in this massive river to save her. Thankfully I could touch bottom and we brought her up the bank, settled her head downhill to try to get rid of some of the water she had taken in.
I quickly and strangely enough realized that it was her time to go.
Even typing this now my emotions well up and I miss her something fierce, caught in the memory of what happened. And how unexpected yet perfectly fitting of an end she had to a wonderfully full and giving life. The vet who answered the late night call was compassionate and professional, which obviously helped ease the pain everyone – Belle included – was feeling.
Why the hell am I sharing this with you?
Because Belle is on my mind and heart. Because there is meaningful poignancy in everyday living. Sometimes we see it, live it viscerally, sometimes we don’t realize what’s happening until we’re in the middle of it and sometimes we don’t see it at all.
How does this relate to Beer?
In my world, everything is related to everything else. Belle, my beloved canine, saw me through the entire launch of my businesses – all of them, beginning in 2002. I knew her longer than I knew My Fine Husband. And she knew me better than anyone else. My Fine Husband fell in love with and got to know dogs because of her. He feels the pain acutely as well, his first death of our beloved immediate family member.
Life without dogs ain’t worth it to me. Life without beer goes on.
When life goes wonky, we need to keep it all in perspective. A family member dying is difficult at best; when it’s a member we truly and deeply love it’s brutal. The celebration of her life this weekend will help us keep moving through it, though the feelings never completely dissipate. Memories of our beloveds, like my friend Walt says, they live in our hearts forever – and isn’t that a great place to be.
Yes. If we can’t be together in life, then we’ll always be connected in our hearts. But damn, I miss her.
Take it all in stride, don’t stress out about things that ultimately don’t matter – like being a beer snob or not being able to get the beer you want at any one time. Life moves. It’s up to us to act with grace and take it all with gratitude, not for granted.
There is poignancy in the everyday. Enjoy it all.
We’ll celebrate her with a memorial picnic, with Hops – the other four legged family member who lived it with us – and our newest family member, Züc. Our humblest effort to cheers a fortunate life well-lived and appreciated.