Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Life that Normal People Live

Today the emptiness hits full bore. For two and a half years I have been awakened at 5:00 AM by the demanding bark of a princessly dog and the jangle of tags as her nails click-click-click their way across the floor to the back door. Attempts to return to sleep were futile due to the repetitive sharp little “feed me” bark from the kitchen when The Princess returned from her morning ablutions. The day’s schedule was dictated by her squire, Oliver, whose waking moments required constant vigilance. Between the two of them, my life was predictable and orderly.

This morning, a silent house left me sleeping until well after seven-thirty. Sadie and Charley would happily sleep until noon – they have the bladders of camels and while Sadie loves her food, she doesn’t get out of bed until she hears the ting-ting of kibble falling from the measuring cup to the stainless steel bowl.

I miss my shadows, my sheltie shadows who woke me early, followed me from room to room, impatiently demanded to be fed whether I was ready or not, and generally created the structure for my day and the chaos in my life. I love Charley, Sadie and Allie but my two little shelties took up more space and demanded more from me than the three of them combined. I am not used to this emptiness.

It is hard to believe that just over a year ago I was caregiver to eighteen animals – four dogs, a cat, 12 foster piggies and an abandoned alpaca. Now there are just three. And it occurs to me, as I sit in the silence at 9:00 AM drinking my second cup of coffee and thinking “I guess I should feed the dogs” ------ is THIS how normal retired folks live?

It is such a strange feeling – this solitude, this lack of structure in my life. I can go out whenever I want for pretty much however long I want. I could drive to Victoria for the day, or even Long Beach, or go to a concert in the evening – there is no one here who needs my constant care. It is, in some ways, very liberating. But it is not a liberation I find pleasing.

And so I shall take Charley and Sadie for a walk, brush them, talk with them, take them for another walk, brush them some more, talk with them some more, until I hear them say “Mom! Enough already! Let us SLEEP!”

It will take some getting used to, this freedom, this solitude, this quietness, this lack of structure, this slow pace of life. And, no doubt, about the time I begin to enjoy it, another critter will find me and change the routine again.

But, for now, I shall flounder around in my near-empty house, lavish attention on my couch-potato dogs, putter in the garden, sip cups of tea on my patio as I immerse myself in a novel, and live the life that normal retired folks live.


EvenSong said...

"Normal" can be so very lonely and boring, without ALL of those we cherish. How is Charley handling Belle's absence--you had said earlier that she seemed to miss the Princess, when Belle was at the vet's. Did Charley have a chance to "say good-bye" and understand as much as possible what happened?

Somewhere recently someone blogged about how animals live very much in the present, and when things change they quickly adapt and move on. I don't know if that's necessarily so, but sometimes it might seem like a blessing to not linger in the empty places of our hearts that love often creates.

Take care, friend.

Anonymous said...

Ah Jean if I know you, your quiet life will soon be busy again.
In the meantime I could always bring Tess ( the Pest) down to stay to liven up your life.LOL


Jean said...

EvenSong, Charley settled down as soon as I brought Belle back home on Monday. But it was Sadie who ended up lying near her, watching her, in those final hours.

I believe dogs and cats clearly understand death. It has always been my practice with all my animals to let the others be present when one passes. That's part of the reason I favor home euthanization when euth is necessary - that, and because being home is less stressful for the dying animal.

Neither Charley nor Sadie are searching now - they just know.

Else, Tess the Pest is always welcome visitor here but NO, I don't think she needs to come stay!!! Thanks for the laugh!

Janice Gillett said...

Jean, i was wondering if you could baby sit for a ...a ...month... giggle

Jean said...

BWHAHAHAHAHA! Janice, you wouldn't know what to do with yourself if I came and piggy-sat for a month! (Though I bet Charley would love herding piggies again!).
I somehow can't see you sitting on a beach in some warm dry climate drinking margueritas while someone else tends to the sanctuary......what an image!

dp said...


Erika said...

I am so sorry to hear that you lost Belle.
What a terrible week for you Jean, I am thinking of you tonight.

Janice Gillett said...

i guess your right Jean and i wonder how many animals i would be trying to bring home from that beach...rescue is needed everywhere... sigh Okay so mean there is NO getting away from it ..ever???

Three weeks??? LOL