Monday, February 4, 2019

Poems of the Week ~ When It's Time to Say Goodbye

I have to issue a Kleenex alert with this feature, as we are sharing poems that say goodbye to some beloved dogs. Margaret Bednar  recently lost her wonderful dog, Mackinaw. The beautiful poem of farewell she wrote to him brought tears. Myrna Rosa, Jennifer Wagner and I lost our dear ones, Daisy, Druke and Jasmine, two years back. As we are a community of dog lovers, I thought to share our poems of love and grief with you.  I have written at least a hundred poems about Pup. I chose one at random to join in the remembering of those paws that padded beside us so faithfully, and those doggy grins that made us laugh, for all those wonderful years. 






Daisy


A SIMPLE POEM FOR DAISY

Not everyone understands, I know
How alone I feel
Her absence
My radiant shadow is gone
No longer close
Attached like glue
Walking behind me, eating, sleeping
While I wrote, cooked or simply lived my day
She absorbed my thoughts, my moods
Reflected back a constant, soothing tranquility
A conduit to my own serenity

Not everyone understands, I know
How now only imagination remains
When I think I hear the silent presence
Of the wise companion
Who enriched my spirit
By teaching me about my own animalism

Not everyone understands, I know
My grief, which connects to all
My other losses, each unique, but woven
From the common thread
Of suffering.

My tears suddenly flow
As my memory flashes
To sweet scenes of our love
I intensely feel
How much I miss my Daisy
Some would say, "She was just a dog."
I know, not everyone understands

          ***     ***       ***


Sherry: Well, we understand, Myrna. Only too well. Tell us about Daisy. And tell us about the new girl in your life, Leroy's new sister.



Leroy and Lula

Myrna: It's been over two years since Daisy died. Yet, her leash and collar are in a drawer as if I could still take her for a walk; her favorite toys remain in the dog cupboard. Sometimes, I still expect to see her lying patiently by my desk, content just to be near me. 



Each night, before bed, Daisy had to take her medicine. I wrapped her pills in a little piece of cheese. Leroy, my other dog, would get a little piece of cheese too to prevent rivalry. Now each night before bed my dogs ritualistically get their "Daisy Medicine", though there's no need for pills and there's no Daisy.

I've never stopped mourning her. Her pictures often provoke tears. But more often my grief is colored by gratitude for the years we were together. Though I cling to some of her material things, it is her essence, like a whiff of sweet perfume, that I feel whenever I think of her.

Leroy missed her too. I don't know how dogs think but clearly he felt a void. He seemed lonely, needy, and he began to dig the yard. My husband wanted to adopt another dog but my heart wasn't ready until recently.



Lula


Lula is the newest addition to our family. I fell in love with her the minute I saw her at the shelter. I didn't, at the time, notice that her coat was dull and dry or that her ribs protruded or that her energy was so low. She was sick. She also came with a bad reputation - she's a pit bull terrier. But somehow she called to me. Leroy seemed to like her too when they met. She went straight to my husband's lap when she saw him and she inhabited my heart instantly.




Sherry: I love that when you think of Daisy, it is her sweet essence you remember. And bless you, Myrna, for adopting Lula from the shelter. She might otherwise have had a hard time finding a home, and now she has a wonderful one. This makes me very happy for Lula. One dog who had a hard life, now rescued and loved and happy. Safe. You honor Daisy by paying that love forward by rescuing another dog.

Myrna: No other dog will ever replace Daisy. No other dog will ever replace Leroy or Lula. Each of my canine companions has been special, unique. Each has expanded my spirit by giving me love and lessons. Each one has taught me something about the risk of love and loss, which I believe is an inescapable experience of life, inherent perhaps in all relationships. Daisy is my most recent loss. Though she remains with me in many ways, I miss her terribly.


Sherry: I know, my friend. I suspect we will miss  them forever. 

When Margaret wrote a recent farewell to her dear companion, I read it through a river of  tears. Let's meet the wonderful Mackinaw.






Margaret and Mack



I swear I've seen you
from the corner of my eye,
slip by on your way to the water bowl
or toward open front door to gaze
down curving, mountain road.

Seen you in clouds, fluffy ears flapping,
in the stars, jumping the gorge,
staring through the window to come inside -


for it’s hard to let you go.

* * *

I watched as you gazed
into the children's eyes, head resting
upon their knees.  You were happy,
day filled with love, bacon,
a very slow, wobbly walk, lakeside.

Last look at all of us,
eyes still alert, but body too weak
for your big heart.

* * *

In those few seconds
when you looked at me, I could only try
and convey how much you meant
to my Mother's heart,  thanked you
for loving my children all these years,

a gentle presence when I scolded,
a nudge when they needed a friend,
a tail that always said "Let's play!"

* * *

A blessing to be surrounded
by all those you love,
who love you, to have our smiles,
our voices, our hands over you
as we stayed and said

"Thank you, Dearest Friend",
as your spirit rose above us
and surely said the same.



RIP Mackinaw - our friend of almost 15 years. Joined the angels on 12-27-2018



Mackinaw and his kids


Sherry: Oh, my goodness, Margaret, how you have captured this wonderful dog! "Thank you for loving my children all these years." Please pass the Kleenex.

Margaret: Well. Mackinaw, for almost fifteen years, was my kids' constant companion. He taught them kindness, loyalty and joy. He was a big "fuzzy monkey" who has taken a piece of all of our hearts with him. Never underestimate the importance of a dog in a child's life. Perhaps my favorite photo is the snowy one above. His spirit is so visible here.

The group photo with "his" kids is the last image we have. He was put down about an hour later. He couldn't walk without stopping and he couldn't support a sit for long. He had to lay down. He had also stopped eating (except for bacon and salmon - which I fed him generously. ;) 

Sherry: The last loving thing we can do for our dear furry friends is to release them when they reach this point. What a wonderful dog he was! Thank you, Margaret, for sharing his beautiful heart with us.

I came across Jennifer's farewell to her beloved Druke, and asked if we might add her voice to this feature. Let's meet another wonderful, loving dog.







Druke, ready for command (fetch!)



EVERLOVE (Softly To Be Let In)


This poem is about a dog,

you know the one,
the one who danced in the kitchen
with the kids after dinner;

the one who nibbled gently
on your shirtsleeve
when you played and scratched and loved him;

the one who howled happy,
and barked deep if asked to speak,
but softly to be let in;

the one who taught you more
than you taught him.

This poem is about a dog
who, with his final breaths,
looked you, each, in the face
one long, loving, last time.

© 2016 Jennifer Wagner

In Memory of Druke Wagner 2000-2016


[ “Druke” is how we spell his name, pronounced “drug/droogk” meaning “friend” in Russian.     до свидания, друг ]


Sherry:  Sweet Druke, with his loud bark for speaking, and his soft voice, to be let in. Oh my goodness, so hard to say goodbye to such a friend.

Jennifer: He was the sweetest, most gentle boy, and I wanted the poem to reflect that as well as capture a few special moments we shared with him. We got him when he was about two years old from friends who could no longer care for him. He was just what we needed to make our family complete. The boys fell in love with him instantly, of course. Every dog needs a boy, as they say, so I think he was pretty happy having several boys to love.



Druke the day we got him

True to his nature, as a Labrador Retriever, he loved to swim and fetch in the water. Even as he got older and didn't get around as well as he used to, he still loved the water and became almost like a puppy again when we'd take him to it. But he was never a hunting dog. The sound of a gun shot, even the sight of a gun, scared him. He was definitely a lover, not a fighter.



Sweet boy Druke

He was truly mellow and obedient. He did have a few little wild streaks, but even then, it just made us all laugh. I refer to some of those times in "Friend". Like when he stole a ham from someone! Our boys would often play in the cul-de-sac with him, and on a few occasions he snuck away. One one such occasion, he came prancing back, proud as can be, with a ham in a bag. We have no idea who lost their holiday ham, but we were laughing so hard imagining someone unloading their groceries only to find their ham missing!

He was so fun and so good and a wonderful friend. He often slept at the foot of my bed, especially on nights my husband worked. In his last days he was quite ill and could not make it up the stairs so we made a nice bed for him downstairs. On the night before we had to let him go, he came up the stairs after all the kids had gone to bed and came to our room. I was so surprised to see him sneaking down the hallway! It was like he was smiling at surprising me and being his old self for just a few moments. I told my husband and we both just cried knowing it was so special.

I had to wipe my eyes and blow my nose writing this! We are glad for the time we had with Druke, and our new dog Cooper is surely fun, but we still do miss our loyal, gentle giant.



Cooper 

New Year

Your collar, green,
his, blue.

You, so polite,
of course, he bites
(as new things do).

But how much he looks like you—
the curl of his tongue in Snoopy yawn,
stretched out
on the rug

where you lay, it feels,
only moments ago.

© 2017 Jennifer Wagner




Cooper 2017

Sherry:  Perhaps the way we most show how much happiness our dogs bring us is by opening our hearts and homes to new dogs, and passing that love along. Thanks, Jennifer, for sharing Druke and Cooper with us. They are both so beautiful. Druke was very special.

I have written a book of poems about Pup, and the grief of missing him. It was eight years this January, and I still have tears at the thought of him. I expect I always will. 




collage created by The Unknown Gnome


COYOTES AT LAST MOUNTAIN LAKE

I heard the coyotes howling
as evening fell
at Last Mountain Lake,
and I thought of you,
my old wolf-pal,
and how you would tip
your nose up to the moon
and howl mournfully
for all the wild places you loved
that we had lost.

Then you'd come to me and rest
your forehead against my knee,
wearily, for comfort.
We loved and lost so much together,
old pal of mine.
But, always, we had each other.

And now I am alone.
My nose tilted up
towards the moon,
an inner howl
expressed in secret tears.
Still missing our wild beaches.

And you.

     ***     ***     ***

Sherry: When I wrote the above poem, I was still living inland, missing Pup and the beach together. I hope his wild spirit gallops along with me on my beach walks, now that I am back to the shores we loved so much.

Gah! They give us so much love.  How we miss them when they leave us. 

Thank you, friends, for sharing your loving poems and your wonderful dogs with us. 





Do come back and see who we talk to next. Hint: next week's feature is all about cats!

30 comments:

  1. I read each entry though tears. So wonderful to share your life with a "fur person." Each wonderful! Thank you so much Sherry, Mynr, and Jennifer. I am so sorry for your loss, and yet, it is the love that makes it all worth it. They enrich our lives!!

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  2. All pictures and poems reminded me of my lovely dog Jasper, who we lost over seven years ago. It's not easy when you lose a pet. Thank you all for sharing them with us.

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  3. I cry each time I read them, too, even though I put this together. Smiles. I think the pain is because they stretch our hearts so much - there is no snapping back to its former size when they have gone. That part of our hearts go with them.

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  4. Oh Sherry, you were right about needing a tissue....these all really got to me. What a blessing a dog can be in a family. A true family member, friend, and counselor. I loved each story, and like Myrna so beautifully wrote, they do enrich our spirit. So glad I saw this post on FB today. Thank you Sherry for sharing this and your lovely poem with us, and thank you Myrna, Margaret, and Jennifer for sharing your beautiful poems as well. This has both saddened my heart and enriched it at the same time.

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  5. Yes, I have been reading through tears, too – but good tears, when the result of so much love and such beautiful memories of beautiful souls. I think each of these poems is wonderful, as the dogs who inspired them clearly were too. Although I am a 'cat person', I have also loved a number of very special dogs. My sons grew up with Lassie (yes, a Scotch Collie – whom the previous owner had named). Margaret's poem about Mack reminded me that if I had occasion to scold my little boys, Lassie would stand in front of them and softly growl at me! Even though the rest of the time I was her favourite person.

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  6. Oh I can just see Lassie, protecting her boys! I am just back from visiting two homes with dogs in them. Apparently, for a few days after I leave my sister's each time, their dog Zoey keeps looking for me in the guest bedroom. I got in lots of doggy snuggles!!

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  7. I needed a moment to finish my crying. Jennifer, Margaret, Sherry and all you dog and animal lovers know how a sweet four legged creature can touch our lives.
    I was just with some friends who don't appreciate or understand this. I felt their negative judgment when they learned I have another dog. I feel love is never badly spent and my dogs have taught me so much about love and about myself. I wish everyone could experience this joy.
    Thank you Sherry for giving us a time and place to grieve and rejoice at having known our furry friends

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    1. Bless you, Myrna, for caring enough to rescue Lula, who otherwise might have met a very sad fate. I wish more people would open their hearts and homes, there are so many creatures who desperatey need homes.

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  8. Each poem such a beautiful heartfelt tribute to these wonderful animals. Such a loss is so hard to recover from and how I started writing poetry when I wrote a poem of grief to my puppy who sadly passed soon after he came into my life. Thank you for sharing your lovely works and your beautiful furry friends.

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    1. Oh I'm sorry, Donna. How heartbreaking. I must read that poem! I will look for it.

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  9. What a beautiful share. It gave me pause to cast my mind back over all the precious dogs that have blessed my life. The Kleenex alert was well-advised, Sherry. Years go by, and yet, our furry friends can still tug at our heart strings, almost as much as in the early days of loss.

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  10. Smiles........our hearts are so full of joy and pain at this point, it is no wonder tears leak out at odd moments. Dogs always hit my heart the most - the one sure source of unconditional love on the planet.

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  11. Oh my goodness, Sherry! What a wonderful feature, though sad. Any of us who have loved dogs can feel the pain of losing one. I have lost two (in my adulthood) so far, and I have three now, the oldest being about 14 now. I know...well we all know...what eventually happens. I have found that the loss of my two previous dogs has been as hard as losing humans. Harder in some ways as one cannot communicate with them. I feel all of your losses deeply and your poems are all treasures.

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    1. I have grieved lostdogs far more deeply, and far longer, than I have grieved humans. I think it is because we dont need to erect any defences against dogs, we know they wont hurt us as humans do, and they love us unconditionally, which humans also find difficult. I loved putting this feature together - each dog is just so wonderful and incomparable. Even having one for fourteen years, which is such a great blessing, it is never long enough. Happy you resonated with this feature, my friend.

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  12. Dammit! There are tears in my eyes and I have to go out down town and everyone will notice! This subject of loved dogs gone to "Wolf Hall" or wherever dog's heaven is one of the most moving posts I have ever read. Thank you everyone for sharing your loved dogs with us.

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    1. Robin, thank you for your kind words. I'm happy you liked it.........I imagine you loved some beautiful dogs in your life, too, my friend......I'd love to hear your stories....maybe we can chat!

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  13. Goodness that was a heartbreaking read- so much love there.. so beautifully rendered into poems. Thanks for sharing your poems with us.

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  14. What I saw through each beautiful poem, every single of them, is a longing heart for the loved one. "Not everyone understands, I know"...How true the sentence is. Thank you for the wonderful share everyone. Thanks Sherry.

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  15. I still hold my childhood dogs close to my heart, Mitzi the collie and Cheri the German shepherd. Reading these, I felt them eat out of my hand again. Thank you, everyone.

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  16. Such a moving post! Thanks to you Myrna, Margaret, Jennifer and Sherry for sharing these beautiful and affecting poems of your lovely furry members of your families. <3

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  17. meeting and living with love and pleasure , parting with tears and pain - beautiful emotional touching poems...saying goodbye is extremely difficult, but poetry helps to heal .Thank you talented poets and PU Best Wishes to All

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  18. Lovely farewells all. There were dogs in my growing up My father took care of them. The one I remember fondest is Shane who would follow me around and wait for me after school greeting me with enthusiasm. So many years after I penned a poem in his memory [not a farewell] it is in my book Pink Crush on page 29 'Two Pals Wait'

    Myrna Rosa, Margaret Bednar, Sherry thanks for a heartfelt post

    much love...

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  19. These wonderful dogs deserve every word in their honour. I am so pleased that you all have been moved by the loving words from our hearts. The thing about love is, it continues even when the loved one is gone. This is so evident here. Thank you, Myrna, Margaret and Jennifer, for sharing those beautiful creatures with us. And hats off to Pup, who lives on online. Smiles. How I miss him!

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  20. Thank you, Sherry. And thank you, Myrna and Margaret. Reading this brought fresh tears as I identified with each of your poems and thoughts. It feels so good to remember our special pets. Grateful for you, Sherry, for crafting this feature, and so well. It made me cry, but smile, too! Thank you also to each of you who shared your thoughts as well. It seems may of us have had similar experiences with our beloved pets!

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  21. Thank you for taking part, Jennifer. I knew it would be an emotional one, but one with which so many can identify. If people had hearts like dogs, what a world this would be!

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  22. This was a beautiful and emotional read. Each poem a testament of love and friendship in the journey between dogs and humans. Animals love unconditional and when you return their love the bond is stronger.

    Thank you for this heartfelt share!

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  23. This pierces my heart....very lovely and moving share!

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