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Barry Crimmins

words to live near


Lloyd The Dog

Thousands of years of moments Friday, December 7, 2007

Thousands of years of moments
I had an unusually difficult time writing the Year in Review. It never would have come together without the patience, generosity and genius of Clif Garboden, senior everything at the Boston Phoenix. All praise to him.

Reviewing a year requires, at least to some extent, reliving it. 2007 did not leave many trails I felt like retracing but off I went.

Many of my records for the year were lost when, in the fog of grief over Lloyd the Dog's fatal illness, I deleted a huge chunk of stuff. When I went back and tried to piece things together, I  kept finding pictures of Lloyd. This led to many smiles and a lot of melancholy. It also made me realize how much I refused to notice his illness. A few months later and it's clear to me that near the end, he was definitely looking like he wasn't well.

As I rifled through the past year's current events I found a large supply of horror. This made last year no different from the others I've known except this year I am that much more worn down. The stories I reexamined involved tremendous pain and suffering for so many people. More often than not this detail was lucky to receive even passing mention in news accounts. The reports read: 'the war is going better' or 'the economy is threatened by mortgage problems.' But the stories didn't articulate that there is still a war that is  still replete with killing and maiming and broken hearts or that our streets are filling with the dispossessed.

I felt all of it. In the process, my contempt for people and institutions that make this world so fertile for agony went through its largest growth spurt in decades. I felt impatience for anyone who needed to be taken, issue by issue, through events in hopes of winning them over to concepts that anyone brave enough to remain in touch with his or her own heart knows without any instruction. It takes only a nanosecond to allow decent instincts to lead us to obvious and righteous conclusions. Failing to note to the deterioration of a loved one is one thing but turning a willfully blind eye to our crumbling world is quite another.

I am sick of macho pukes, xenophobic he-men, jingoistic bullshit artists, media know-nothings, religious assholes and bullies of any sort. I just want some peace and beauty. The world is full of people who want the same thing. Unfortunately many of those people refuse to understand that their peace and beauty is interdependent with everyone else's. We can't steal it or outbid others for it. It only comes when we are thoughtful and kind and conscientious. And even then, we are still going to face enormous pain and sorrow because those feelings are original equipment in the human condition.
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For Karen and for me, the worst pain came when our great and faithful family member died only nine years after joining us. He gave us so much. He was so happy and loving and funny. Since we lost Lloyd, we've been reminded that shock is nature's painkiller. When you get bad, it zones you out until you can handle some more -- and more is always waiting. That's why the healing process takes so long.

It was a magnificent August morning when I had to pick up Lloyd to carry him to the car for the last time. I kissed his head and held him close as we left the house. Karen was carrying all she'd found to make his last ride as comfortable as possible. These items were to become sacred artifacts to me. Lloyd rallied a bit as the scents of his world filled his nostrils a final time. I walked slowly around the yard, rotating him this way and that so he could take in all that had been his and would always remain his to us. He looked at the gardens, the lawn, the trees, the forest beyond and of course, our house. He even followed the flight of a bird as it zoomed past. I soothed him, speaking all the endearing names he'd collected in nine years. They came wrapped in every happy phrase of praise he knew. I kept telling him how much we loved him and how we would never be here without thinking of him. Ever. Then it was up the hill and into the car, where Karen soothed him in the back seat as I drove some of the toughest road I've ever negotiated. I still cannot tell the rest of the story.

Last Thursday, thinking about Holly Corey and her family while walking Lettie and Lu on Lloyd's land, I found myself standing exactly where I had stopped and rotated the last time to give him his ultimate glimpse of home. I thought of how empty things seem without him. How had he been there, I'd have hardly noticed that the gardens and lawn were hidden under snow or that the trees, rustling with gorgeous leaves in a gentle breeze that late summer morning, were now barren. I began to weep. It was 15 degrees but emotion knows no season.

I thought of how many thousands years of these moments have come unnecessarily early to people because of the kind of shit I had been reviewing and writing about. I have been a mess over a dog since August. In a way we got off easy-- Lloyd had cancer and we had a chance to say farewell. How long does it take someone who loses a child or parent or sibling or spouse to senseless violence to get to this point? And how many points like this must one reach before breaking through to a life no longer overwhelmed by grief?

There's no saying. So I won't.
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