July 10, 2017

On (Im)permanence

As promised, I'm back to share my Ruby tattoo, and to start writing more regularly. This has been the most amazing summer of a most amazing year, and I've been doing a great deal of reflecting on luck, love, loss and gratitude. For perhaps the first time in my life, all that I've experienced seems strung together on the same thread - seemingly unrelated things echo back to each other and sadness and joy nestle inextricably together.

Four years ago in July, I lost both of my fourteen-year-old dogs within ten days of each other. That same year was defined by other losses, but July's hit the hardest and/or compounded all that came before because I had also lost my mother - the person I loved most in the world - in July of 2010. Summer seemed especially cruel for so many years. I believe my reaction to all this loss was delayed, with the year following being particularly dark. At times it seemed that the best parts of my life were in the past. How to allow brightness to glimmer at the edges of absence again? How to love deeply knowing that all you love will eventually leave?

What I've come to know is that is exactly how and why to love deeply. I have always had a close relationship with mortality - I grew up with so many animals that it was unavoidable. Losing was the price of loving. I have never over-sentimentalized this reality when it comes to animals, but more recently it has taken on new characteristics. A preciousness. I have had a few people assume, when they see my Ruby tattoo, that it is a memorial. Ruby will be five this winter and I hope we have at least a decade more together, but I already recognize what she means to me and how she's changed my life. I already know that she is my forever - or my little piece of forever, since forever doesn't really exist for any of us.

Sometimes looking at Ruby's amber grey eyes, or at my ancient little cat Nina's bedraggled frame, or at the beautiful faces of any of the people I hold dearest in my life, I feel my heart could burst. How lucky, to share this space in time with them. There are so many metaphors about loss and heartbreak, about the capacity or strength of that organ being diminished by trauma. The opposite can be true. The heart's chambers can be sprung wider, like the windows thrown open on a perfect summer day. Gratitude has infinite square footage.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that everything will always change. We can count on that. We will experience devastating loss. We will wonder how happiness will ever appear on the horizon again. And then it will. In the form of a brilliant and complicated red and white dog who gazes into your very soul. In the form of a new relationship that takes you on incredible adventures and brings back forgotten wonders. In the form of peace and wisdom that can only come from time and experience, and recognizing that, in the words of Mary Oliver, this is what we get...this one wild and precious life.


  1. Your tattoo is gorgeous, and I'm so glad to see you writing personally again <3

  2. I saw this quote the other day and it's so true, "There is suffering in grieving the loss of a furry best friend. But I would rather have this sea of sadness now than the tiny drops of emptiness every day if I’d chosen not to have a dog in my life."

    I love your tattoo and while I could never go that elaborate, I've thought about getting a little paw print on my wrist. July has been a tragic month for me as well, on the same date in July in 2013 and 2015 I lost 2 very special cats, and in the year between them my mom had a nearly fatal heart attack. It's become a part of the year that I dread but I really need to learn to get past it.

    1. Thank you for your sweet words and that perfect quote. I would never trade having pets, despite its sorrows. Those dates really leave an impact and I hope July can be redefined for you this year.

  3. Beautifully put. Totally agree that loss (and grief) is the price of love. And it's worth it. Gorgeous ink!

  4. I love every word of this blog. Thank you.

  5. Absolutely fantastic. Mom needs to find someone to do one for her
    Lily & Edward

  6. Welcome back. I love your Ruby tattoo. I'm planning my Mia tattoo, and hope to get it before it's becomes a memorial.

  7. I love your tattoo, and I love this post. Grief is a horrible beast, and there's no easy or correct way to navigate through it. But learning that we can love again, and that we can once again experience joy has gotten me through some tough times.

  8. <3

    Thank you for sharing this, Bee. As always, beautifully, perfectly said.

    (Greedy Katie says "More more more!") ;)

  9. It's great to hear your voice again!

  10. You write so beautifully, so profoundly. This post was deeply touching. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, love your tattoo!! DakotasDen

  11. A friend sent your post so timely for me. Our little family will likely be relocating to CO soon from Maryland. I am scared at the change but seeking clean air. We lost a 14 year old standard poodle almost a year ago now and finally have a 4 month old in the family now. Please contact me about CO and dogs... we'd be living near Parker not Boulder as we thought.
    LeeAnna at not afraid of color email is
    leeannaquilts at gmail dot com

  12. Welcome back, Lara! Reading this reminds me all over again of exactly why I love your writing so much. And your tattoo of Ruby is gorgeous!!

  13. "Losing was the price of loving."

    So true. And as hard as the loss is, love is worth the price.

  14. Oooh, as a tatted Colorado girl myself, can I just say...very N.I.C.E. Well done and what a beautifully written post.


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