Modern

I keep two collections of random thoughts. First, I have my handwritten journal pages: on mornings when I’m not teaching, I try to write four longhand pages in a Moleskine notebook over my morning cup of tea, and on teaching days, I try to use time between classes to write four pages in one of the slim, softback notebooks I keep in my teaching bag.

Terry Winters

In addition, I have an assortment of typewritten documents I write and store on my Google Drive: each of them dated, and some of them titled. The entries with titles usually end up on my blog, but the entries without titles usually get abandoned or forgotten: pages where I’m basically talking to myself, rehearsing the usual complaints and quibbles.

On an excellent day, I’ll write in both places: I’ll spend a half hour or so on my handwritten pages, then I’ll spend another half hour transcribing any ideas or insights that emerged there. On a good day, I have time to write only in my journal, and on bad days, I don’t write anywhere at all. But even though I don’t manage to write every single day, I still produce a lot of odds and ends. I post some of this random writing on my blog, but much of it lives a quiet, forgotten existence in closed notebooks and forgotten Google Drive folders.

Terry Winters

Sometimes when I have time to write but little to say, I’ll open a random notebook or Google Doc, just to see what was on my mind weeks, months, or even years ago. It’s as if my life were a book, and I open to a random page.

Recently, for example, I re-read a Google Doc titled “No timeline” that I wrote in September, 2015:

Last week, I was at Angell for Groucho’s oncology check-up, a ritual we’ve reenacted every month since he was diagnosed with small cell lymphoma over two years ago. As I was leaving our appointment and walking toward the reception desk to check out, I heard a sound from the dog waiting area that stopped me cold: a high pitched squealing whine that sounded so much like Reggie, I had to stop and collect myself.

It’s been over three years since Reggie died, but that doesn’t matter: when I heard a dog that whined like him, the intervening years evaporated and I had to stop myself from rushing into the dog waiting are just to make sure Reggie hadn’t come back to find me. This is, of course, a crazy thought, but a grieving heart knows no logic.

Terry Winters

Groucho died in November, 2015, so the monthly oncology appointment I describe in these paragraphs would have been one of his last. But I had no way of knowing that at the time, of course. In September, 2015, Groucho was alive but reaching the end of even the most positive prognosis: chemotherapy for cats with lymphoma works really well until it doesn’t.

In September, 2015, Groucho was alive and it was Reggie I was mourning, even though he’d been dead more than three years. Rereading that entry brings it all back: the still-raw sting of lingering loss, and the too-familiar ache of anticipatory grieving.

Terry Winters

Last year, Bunny the cat died; this year, we’re worried about Rocco. This week, J took Rocco for his first oncology appointment after his recent diagnosis with the same kind of cancer that claimed Groucho: deja vu all over again.

There is no timeline for grief: that’s what I never got around to saying back in 2015. They say time heals all wounds, but that assumes time moves in a straight line rather than circling like a dog before sleep. Just when you think you’ve grown past expecting your dead dog to be underfoot at every step–a phenomenon J calls “phantom dog”–you hear a stranger’s pet at the vet who sounds so eerily familiar, you wonder if grief is the only thing on earth that doesn’t die. Just when you’ve almost forgotten one cat dead to cancer, another gets diagnosed with the same disease, history echoing and repeating, this year not much different from then.

Looming large

I’m not surprised the groundhog saw his shadow yesterday given how long and looming Reggie’s and my shadow-selves have been this past month.

This is my contribution to today’s Photo Friday theme, Tall.

Snowflake snuggles...

Another frigid morning. The dog and I briskly circle the block while the cats map the warmest radiators and sunniest windows.

This is my day sixteen contribution to this month’s River of Stones.

Winged pedestrian

A morning so cold, the dog’s pee steams, puddles, then freezes on the pavement, leaving a slick yellow smear.

This is my belated day fifteen contribution to this month’s River of Stones.

Reggie after snowy dog-walk

The secret of walking down semi-plowed streets in a snowstorm? The dog walks one tire-track, and I walk the other.

This is my Day Twenty-One submission to a river of stones, a month-long challenge to notice (and record) one thing every day. I’ll be posting my “stones” both here and on Twitter, where submissions are tagged as #aros. Enjoy!

Intrepid snow-dog

I walk the dog through a misty veil of sleet, his fur gradually whitening like a time-lapse of age.

This is my Day Eighteen submission to a river of stones, a month-long challenge to notice (and record) just one thing every day. I’ll be posting my “stones” both here and on Twitter, where submissions are tagged as #aros. Enjoy!

Variegated

Today has been one of those grading-days where I’ve had my head down, working, from sunup to sundown: not the stuff, certainly, of an attention-grabbing blog-post. But moments ago, Reggie began gently pestering to go outside, and knowing that a senior dog’s request to go “out” really means “now,” not later, I immediately put aside what I was doing to lead Reggie downstairs and outside into the backyard dog-pen.

How, I wonder, could Reggie’s bladder have known that “now, not later” was the precise moment when the sun was setting, streaking our backyard sky with a striated pattern of red and gray, a spectacular spot of color I would have missed had I kept my head down, working?