When I returned to pet blogging on August 1, it was with the idea that I would be sharing information on dealing with an aging pet — in particular, one with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. I didn’t know how long I would blog here again, or how involved I could be in the pet blogger’s community, but I wanted to help.
Turns out, I was the one who needed the help, although I didn’t realize it. There must have been a part of me that knew that this chapter of my life would be ending sooner rather than later, and that I didn’t want to go through it on my own — or undocumented.
You Don’t Keep a Journal??
Writing is a very individual experience. Some people dash through a first draft and then go back to polish their prose (or poetry). Others write more slowly, editing a little along the way.
And then there’s me.
Most of the time, I can barely get two sentences down without going back and rereading what I wrote. Sure, there’s the occasional white heat writing, when I’m angry and opinionated — okay, I’m always opinionated, but not always angry — and the words come quickly. Usually, however, I work hard to make my writing look easy.
Writers often try to tell you that their method is the right one because it works for them. It’s taken me many years, but I finally have enough confidence to stop listening to advice like that. Can the writing itself be improved? Of course — sometimes I am so much in my own head, so immersed in a situation, that I don’t convey what I intended. That’s what good editors do: They clarify and ask the right questions, telling you what they don’t understand, making sure you’re getting your ideas across (not theirs).
But I digress.
My point is — and some will find this shocking — I don’t keep a journal. This, in the opinion of many writers, is a cardinal sin. I know, though, that I would pore over every word, and spend more time editing myself than putting my thoughts down.
And if you tell me that if only I got into the habit of journal writing this would change, I am going to bite you.
Blogging to the Rescue
I recommitted to blogging here because Frankie was on my mind, even while I was writing about my family history on Freud’s Butcher. The family members I am researching there will stay dead and people will come back to that blog — or not — when I resume writing about them. Meanwhile, I have a real dog whose life and whose passing I would like to think about. And the best way for me to do it is to write for a pet-loving audience, people who won’t consider my close attention to one small dog insane.
I don’t know how others work but, in addition to having a general pet-loving audience in mind, I also aim my writing towards a few specific people, smart ones with good hearts. I know some of them in real life, even if we’ve met only briefly; some I may never meet, especially if I stop dog blogging. Nevertheless, I write to them because I know they will understand — or set me straight.
Which brings me back to my last post, the one about my guilt over not doing enough to take care of Frankie.
Good Caretaking, Ineffective Writing
Yes, I can be a paranoid nutcase at times; just ask any of my friends. And yes, grief brings out the irrational in me, as it does in most people. But most of the time, I know that I have taken excellent care of Frankie. One of his gifts to me was making me aware that even a plant-killing relationship-phobe from New York can find the inner resources to create a good life for another living creature, and to love that creature with a depth of feeling that would have been impossible to anticipate.
So when I wrote about feeling guilty that I hadn’t done enough for Frankie because I didn’t have the superpowers to keep him alive, I was being rhetorical, taking my fleeting emotions to their (il)logical extreme. I thought it would be obvious that second guessing my vet and keeping Frankie from jumping off stuff were as impossible as being able to change the course of time.
Apparently it wasn’t clear. And this is what I mean about writing that doesn’t convey what it is intended to convey.
So I am sorry you worried about me, but I am also very touched. Thank you.
Support — and a Report
Here’s the other thing. Your comments have been wonderful, often bringing me to tears with their displays of kindness and concern. If I haven’t answered many of them lately, it’s because I would spend my day sobbing — and I have to earn a living, not to mention devise ways to spoil Frankie. But I want you to know that I read and appreciate them all. I especially appreciate knowing — from comments on Facebook and Google+ as well as here — that I haven’t just depressed the hell out of everyone, that others have found it helpful to hear about this process.
Frankie and I are doing okay. I’m glad I’m spending these last few weeks with him. He’s still capable of annoying me — out or in, buddy? Make up your mind! — which means life is fairly normal, in its fashion. Frankie seems to be thriving on his semi-junk food diet — cheap cat food, sausages, potato chips… new treats every day — and at first his new found energy freaked me out, making me wonder whether letting go was the right decision, the advice of Dr. Sheila Kirt, the hospice vet, notwithstanding. Maybe there’s still time, I wondered….
But nothing has changed Frankie’s prognosis, and why wait until he can no longer find joy in being spoiled?
I too am capable of pleasure: I gave Dr. Kirt a copy of Am I Boring My Dog. A few days later, I got a lovely thank you card from her with this note:
Your book is a pleasure to read. Your humorous approach makes it extremely enjoyable and entertaining. More importantly, the information you provide is well researched, accurate and complete. Thank you for writing this book and for sharing it with me.
Now all I have to do is remember to ask her to write the same thing on Amazon….