Archives for posts with tag: death

Today….March 30,2021

“ I have to be honest with you, I don’t think anything is going to help, I was just throwing stuff out there as a kind of hail mary… she’s been ill for a long time, and I think what is going on with her walking is from her disease, and I think her weakening state is exacerbating her disease and her disease is making her weaken and she’s been going on because you’ve been keeping her alive, with care that is probably intensive, and that’s great….”

Or something like that

Ego stroked feeling better,  if I did okay than it’s kind of okay, right? Not my fault?…not sure…Did I do wrong? Did I do right? Medications, no medications, which medications… harm by waiting, harm by doing….I may have done everything wrong or nothing wrong.

“ I would do what I’ve said all along. Give her the antibiotics first, and if that doesn’t work, give her the pred”

I want to get it all down. I talk to so many vets and the calls always come when I happen to be focused on something else, like now taking the wolf spider out of the bathtub and into the yard and registering it on i-naturalist, and using the bathroom myself and wondering if I am also sick and trying to put titles to the 7,000 year old “vessel in the form of a resting hare” into a key note for a class I will lead on zoom next week.

He also said,

“I have to be honest with you…… blah blah blah… she’s dying.” Charlie Brown’s writer, schultz knew what he was doing when he wrote his blah blah blahs….how did he say it? Wahwahwah…” I hear the words but it’s only certain phrases that stick, like “ I have to be honest with you” and “she’s dying” and now as I write that, finally crying. Dry lips dry tears, like there’s no moisture left in me to mourn what is a long process. How can we really mourn a long process when It’s not done? How can we not.

But,,, Jay… says the Jay…. I always have hope… hope that baytril or goldenseal will wipe out infection if she has it and she will be better than before… hope the prednisolone will not just enable her to walk but make her better than before, able to close her eyes, able to walk further….able to regain her weight and be strong and healthy until she dies peacefully in her sleep….

What he said was, “ I have to be honest with you, I don’t think any of it’s going to work” or maybe he said, “ I have to be honest with you, it might not work” all I really know is that he said “ I  have to be honest with you” and “Your care” and “ she’s dying”

I thanked him for his honesty, and told him that it could be helpful to know that nothing might work, because then I could relax, and just be my best self with her… But, I’m not quite there. I haven’t quiet given up. And up to now, neither has she. As long as she doesn’t give up, I won’t either.

And outside, in the yard on warmer days, it sometimes seems okay, or tolerable, and there are moments when I can relax.

“her body is weak and she’s affected by a lot of stuff…” or something like that.

It’s all just words in a pandemic world where at best we see folks on a screen or hear them on a phone or maybe at best we breathe with the trees. 

And grandpa died today 13 years ago.

And then… in the afternoon after writing all of that, grandpa, or a mourning cloak butterfly, came to visit.  I was talking on the phone with a friend who was recommending euthanasia. The butterfly suddenly appeared on the fallen oak leaves in front of me.

They told me, just before Grandpa died that he looked up from his bed  and reached upward. Or at least that’s how I remember what they told me.

And then the butterfly flew up. I thought that it was gone, but then looked at my shadow on the grass and saw that it  was perched on my hat. 

I thought, I can’t feel it, or see it, but it’s there. With me.  Maybe grandpa’s letting me know he’s with me. Or that she will always be with me.

I got another phone call, and I tried to take pictures of the butterfly and do others stuff that is so much less important than being with the butterfly, and my busyness  made it fly away, but it kept coming back to me, to my hat, to my head. I stretched my arms above my head and photographed it with my cel phone.

 Lila seemed to need something so I left the butterfly to take care of her. Later when I carried her to a place to possibly pee,  I almost stepped on it, the butterfly suddenly flew up in front of us.

Maybe grandpa, or the mourning cloak, is letting me know, with wings outstretched, death might be a liberation. For us all. 

It’s a seed. Planted today… and maybe over and over again, starting many years ago, with each peaceful death of a loved one.

And to make it even more symbolic, the butterfly then perched on an old toy of hers that had lost its outer layer just like she’s lost so much of her muscle and fat and even some fur. It’s a moose I think but it looks like a dog. In that moment I forgot it had once looked like a moose, I saw a fallen dog with legs crossed unnaturally, and a mourning cloak butterfly, wings a bit tattered along the edge from the winter, but still showing deep, rich, warm splendor in the sunlight.

This has been a difficult Winter in New England. More for wildlife than for us. Snow storms kept coming, taking away heat, food sources, shelter, water. I ran into some of those that didn’t make it along the muddy river… a Black Duck and a Mallard.IMG_1538IMG_1152  One day after passing those past, I entered the museum and saw Kathe Kollwitz’s sculpture of a young girl in death’s grip.  Later I walked outside, by the river, and saw a female Mallard, looking very weak, with a male staying close and seeming to support her along.IMG_1308IMG_1309. Winter is a time of loss. Those that don’t die may hibernate or remain dormant. After loss, sometimes there is a pause before new life emerges. This pause, between Winter and Spring, is for some the most challenging time. It is when we feel the loss, but the new life seems still abstract and elusive. I think this is the time that we need to let our dreams burn bright… let ourselves be completely immersed in what is clear, deep and ready to flower inside us. Barbara Kingsolver writes,” The sky was too bright and the ground so unreliable, she couldn’t look up for very long. Instead her eyes held steady on the fire bursts of wings reflected across water….” Here’s to the hopes and dreams…  we can let them grow strong inside us.  Spring and its fertile ground will soon be ready to welcome animals, plants and our truest dreams to live and flourish.


I lay under the Maple tree in a  yoga stretch my breath keeping rhythm. Suddenly a titmouse landed on the privet bush beside me. It began squawking loudly. I lay still, but watched and listened as the bird continued to squawk agitatedly. Another titmouse came over to check out the scene. Then three chickadees came in. Then a  White Breasted Nuthatch,flew to the Maple, walked down it toward me, came in close…they all called, seeming to support the riled up squawker. S/he came over to the Maple, just above my head. We looked at each other; I looked into eyes big, dark, beady. Are you telling me something? Or telling your companions about me? It seemed like  the birds were actually going to perch on me. I moved and they flew off … I wondered, what this bird’s message could be. Did it think I was dead? ;a potential source of insects to eat? Did it think I was in trouble and altruistically trying to notify others to help me? The message I took was this- this old Norway Maple, a tree we have considered cutting down , is old, considered a “weed tree” and could fall on our house. Yet it is full of life and possibility, especially for insect-eating birds like the chickadee, Nuthatch and Titmouse. I took the visit as a plea to leave the tree standing- let it die slowly- let life continue on inside and around it as long as possible… perhaps even after its death, (as dead trees actually have more biomass than live trees and provide great habitat for cavity nesters). And look at yards as habitat. They are home for urban and suburban dwelling wildlife. May we preserve green space in the city. Maybe this was not what the titmouse was saying, but it’s the message I took. Tufter TitmouseNatural history note: Titmice and Nuthatches live mostly off Acorns in Fall and Winter ( there is an oak in the yard) Titmice form long-term pair bonds ( so it could have been a couple). Titmice, nuthatches and chickadees  form mixed species flocks outside of breeding season for enhanced feeding purposes…


Today Revere beach was covered with surf clam shells. Hundreds of thousands of surf clam shells up on the beach, and by the water, hundreds of gulls of all ages enjoying the meal. Many of the animals we love to hate, the ones that thrive in our cities and suburbs are opportunists. Ecologically speaking, at least as I see it, what wonderful creatures opportunists are. They thrive in environments others aren't able to survive in, and use up what ever surplus comes along. If it wasn't for the gulls, Revere beach would be full of decaying mollusk bodies. Instead, it's full of empty shells, and walking, flying, swimming, and most of all, eating gulls. Death to life. Can I learn to do the same? Create new life from the discards, surplus, unneeded? I'm trying, but I have a lot to learn from the gulls..

Ringed-billed, Herring, and a few Black-backed gulls eating up the surf clams at Revere Beach.

Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Chanukah! In appreciation and memory of all of the turkeys that have become a part of a celebration, and of the people who celebrate.

“Turkey Tail” fungi growing on a fallen tree.

Are we really on our own in this world? Do we really die alone? Maybe however separate we feel, however thick our shell, however internal we go, there are always kindred spirits surrounding us.