"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Miracles Big and Small

This morning, I lay in bed before the sun came up, thinking of Jezebel.

She’d have been nine years old, today. I miss her, so much.

 She was so loving, sweet, bossy, earnest and perfect – for us. She would crawl up in bed with us, head on my pillow, nose snuggled under my neck, kisses. When she would get too hot, she'd flip herself four paws up and wiggle back over to wedge herself practically under me.

She loved her mom.

And she loved to chase squirrels. She’d spring from the deck as soon as I opened the door, flying down the deck stairs to the yard, scarcely touching them on the way down. 

Her strategy, clearly, was to be able to catch them unawares. She’d spot a squirrel halfway through the yard while racing towards the trees and adjust her direction. Of course, with a yard full of trees, it never worked. She’d then hop under the trees, eyes glued on a sassy squirrel and speed along with her eyes on it as it jumped tree to tree. With her head up, she’d kind of bob and hop and I always worried she run into something or trip. As near as I could tell, she never did. Jezebel was an incredible athlete. Evelyn would tear after her, clearly with no earthly notion what Jezebel was doing but happy to troop along with big sister.

Jezebel liked to eat. When we would call them for dinner, she’d race into the kitchen, slam her butt down on the smooth floor and skid about five feet, neatly in front of Evelyn, first in line. She ate like an anteater or a vacuum cleaner. We had to make sure she didn’t turn around and steal Evelyn’s food.

When Husband worked at home and I worked upstairs in my office, Jezebel would doze at the front door, which was the best place to keep an eye on her dad and be able to spot me if I emerged from my office (Evelyn, in contrast, will stay up in the sewing room with me).

(Evelyn comforting Jezebel who was recovering from surgery and radiation to her nose)

Jezebel loved it when we took a shower. She would follow whoever was up there and throw herself against the glass to press up as close as she could get. She liked it when the water splashed on her. If Jezebel was in the house and I was taking a shower, she was always right there.

Sometimes, Jezebel would crawl in my lap to snuggle. It didn’t happen that often but I loved it when she did. But if she ever saw her parents hug, she would stop whatever she was doing to race over to join us by rearing up for kisses. If we watched TV, I’d lean on Husband with my legs on the sofa and she’d crawl up as close as she could get with her head on my thigh, snoozing blissfully.

Jezebel died the week after her 8th birthday and that knocked her family to its knees. She was our heart.  The morning of her unexpected and sudden death, I sat at the foot of my bed and tormented myself that all those little moments of joy and delight were forever gone. It was if a light in my life was brutally extinguished. The magnitude of the loss was more than I thought I could bear. There was simply no dog like Jezebel. She had a seemingly inexhaustible supply of love. A born therapy dog, she tenderly cared for my mother when she was dying, comforted my husband when we lost Sapphire, would stay right with me if I had a migraine or a bad day, or the Twin Towers fell and we were home, alone, and scared.

Evelyn, with her gentle ways was, and is, so different.  Sapphire, with her droll humor and self confidence wasn’t as physically affectionate or remotely as earnest. To understand them, consider:  If she could, Jezebel would tenderly set out your socks and underwear to help you get ready for work. Sapphire would hide your socks/underwear and sit back to watch you rush around looking for them while Jezebel looked aghast and perplexed.  Evelyn would help you look for them if you asked her to although she'd never give Sapphire away if she was in on the joke (As she is growing up, Evelyn is working on her own version of Sapphirey humor).

I miss Jezebel.

This morning, as I was lying in bed in the dark, missing Jezebel, Pearl leaped on the bed, full of enthusiastic kisses.

She pressed up to me as close as she could get and sighed in utter bliss. She got down to get a toy, then returned and shoved so close to me that she practically knocked me out of bed. She gave me so many kisses I had to beg for mercy.

She loves her mom.

When I took a shower, I looked down and she was in her usual place, pressed right up against the glass, looking up and smiling at me. The water splashed her and she clamped her eyes shut.

When we got downstairs, she leaped in my lap, her usual spot, and snuggled close. Husband came in to say good morning and laughed at my “milk baby” who was settled in for the duration. Until, that is, Husband called them for breakfast. At that point, she raced into the kitchen, slammed her butt on the smooth kitchen floor and skidded neatly in front of sister Evelyn, first in line.

After she inhaled her breakfast, we had to redirect her so she wouldn’t steal Evelyn’s. I let them out the back door and Pearl flew out down the steps, nary touching a one, racing as fast as she could go towards the trees. She changed direction, mid yard, and made a bee-line towards the fence where there was a squirrel scrambling up a tree.

As always, Pearl was too late but she hopped around under the trees trying to keep up with them as they sassed her and jumped from tree to tree. She never trips. Pearl is a fabulous athlete.

Sister Evelyn chased after Pearl but it was clear she had no earthly idea what her sister was doing.

My family has heard all this but I will repeat myself:  I expected similarities. I realize that both Pearl and Jezebel are dogs and, more importantly, both are Samoyeds. I didn’t expect the universe to practically allow us to reboot. I didn’t expect to have my heart continue to lift in the same sorts of things that gave me such delight, before. I didn’t expect a continuation of the pure pleasure I took at Jezebel’s little ways. I don’t know why this happened. But I believe that for some reason, whatever is out there had mercy on our hearts.

Including Evelyn.

And now I will change directions to what has also been on my mind as I write this. We lost our good dog and like a miracle, the universe sent us the exact puppy we needed to heal. But my heart is heavy because - prepare for a sharp turn - the family of an old school mate in Oklahoma City is going through the torments of hell regarding the senseless, violent death of a little boy in a manner straight out of a horror story. No puppy miracle can bind up their hearts, minds and souls. For that family, there will be no new child to bring them love and joy and even if another child arrived, the memories and wounds could never, ever be healed absent a bigger miracle than we experienced.

I don’t know why innocent people have to suffer. And I don’t know why the universe has mercy on some and not others. There a little miracles and big ones.  It would take a big miracle for this family to even be able to function in the foreseeable future. I am praying for that kind of miracle for them.

I worked on a Sylvia block, this morning with the help of my good quilting buddies.

Here they are, to date:

The name of the block is Handy Andy.  I kind of wrecked it with a fast, thoughtless measuring job but it hides it pretty well.

As usual, back to packing!

Happy Quilting,

Penny, Evelyn and Pearl


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing.

Shogun said...

Another great posting. I always feel like I've had an "experience" after reading one of your postings. It's the social worker slash english lit major slash animal lover in me. I gotta go hug my pets
Thanks for sharing this.

Phyllis said...

I am in tears of sympathy. When I lost Maggie many years ago, I was depressed for four months. I thought I'd never get over it. I still miss her, and my Harley who quickly left me nine months ago.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting how Pearl found her place in the house, too - she had big pawprints to fill.

It's been two years since we lost our Lucy, and we're finally looking at adopting a new cat. Lucy spent a great deal of time teaching us that she was a cat, not our kid, so I wonder what lesson the new cat will have for us.


Penny said...

Thanks, all.

Janet, I suspect the new cat will teach you that she is a kid, not a cat.

South Jersey Quilter said...

We make plans, and the gods laugh. Seems like they were laughing with you, not at you, this time. I followed the Jezebel saga, and cried right along with you, and I share your joy in Pearl. If you get tired of being a lawyer, consider taking up writing- maybe a kid's book about your dogs?


Stephanie D. said...

Ah, Penny. I'm grateful you finally got your Pearl, but I have no words adequate to the situation your friends are in.

Sometimes there are no answers.

Penny said...

"We make plans, and the gods laugh. Seems like they were laughing with you, not at you, this time."

Nice words, SJQ!

ranette said...

Penny...I can hardly type because I'm blubbering. Wow you have a way with thoughts and words girl!

My heart goes out to your friends in OKC...

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing so much. I feel the same way about my cat who passed away 1 year ago.