Loretta turns into a little lady when I dress up! How cute! Of course, she is probably just reacting to the change in me: I am no longer the animated party girl but turn into something different. It's just fun to think that she knows. Perhaps I should dress up more often. I do have to admit that it was fun to come flowing down the stairs with my little lady and hear an instructor say, "You look BEAUTIFUL!" and sound truly impressed. It's something i haven't ever really heard before--reactions like that in the Midwest are reserved for the truly stunning. I really needed that experience this week. I am a middle-aged single woman in a group where the other women my age have all achieved things that I'm not very confident I will achieve: each of them has had a career as well as a family. So for me, struggling along later in my life to do the thing that I am passionate about and trying to do it for the sake of the thing and not for the status it brings or the glamor associated with it, it is very hard to maintain a sense of who I am in a setting where people are comparing notes, laughing at each other's children's antics, etc. When I answer negatively the question of whether I have kids, discussion moves on to someone else regardless of what I try to share positively about myself. Unfortunately, it happens over and over wherever I go. Even my stories about C are not funny to people who don't know me--she is someone else's child, and the moments that we treasured together are ours alone.
These experiences tend to leave me feeling very melancholy; and the experience at lunch yesterday was a real boost to my mood. And we wonder why the rules about dressing up existed for so long... I'm certain that most people would think that it would be better if it was a suggestion and not a requirement. i have mixed feelings about this. If it was a suggestion, I probably would not have done it, even though I do enjoy it. With the schedule being so busy, i would simply forego it because it's a hassle. It would be a good experience, but it's not mandatory and I'm tired after a brisk walk...
Last night, a support froup was held for people who had had previous dogs from here or from other schools. I almost did not go--I thought that I had done a reasonable job of working through my emotions about Meg's retirement and making room in my heart for Loretta, as evidenced by my intense love at first site and recognition of her excellent work and ability to bond with me. I was wrong about my success in working through my emotions about Meg, and I'm glad that I went. Michele Drolet led the group, and she began by reading a poem written by a graduate who had come here from another school about the transition from one dog to another. When she got to the part about it hurting the dog to work, I started to sob--and I am crying as I write this. It brought back all the feelings I had over the months of wondering if Meg could make it, not knowing how much pain she was in, and finally seeing her react so confusedly when she needed to go around a person after starting Phenobarbitol. I really felt that her last few precious weeks were stolen from me and from her, and it was not fair to either of us. Sitting in that group, I was overwhelmed with the urge to get on the floor, hug her, and bury my face in her side and tell her I'm sorry, tell me I'm sorry. I don't know that I will ever lose that urge. I don't know that I will ever lose the idea that she should have graduated seminary with me. There are people here who worked dogs until they were eleven. Meg woill have just turned ten in 2010, when I will be looking at graduation. Why did it have to be like this?
i love Loretta, and in time everything will be all right. I don't understand how grief and love can go hand in hand. There is no way to describe i tto someone who has not experienced it. It's not like grieving a death or a divorce, putting a child up for adoption, etc. I am losing a companion who has been a part of me; and as I learn to accept a new one with open arms, I must somehow cope with the feelings of loss and related emotions. I often feel a tremendous sense of guilt when I am purely accepting of the new companion, as if I am betraying the previous one. I remember Meg becoming upset the first time I left without her... She climbed on my air hockey table, and Alexis had to take her in another room for the next few times. Was she angry at me? Or is that too much humanization? Perhaps she was just disoriented by the change. Who am I to assume anything about what Meg feels? If I lavish praise on Loretta, when does Meg get such praise?
I called Mom and asked her to put me on speaker phone so that I could talk to Meg. She did, and I said a bunch of things to Meg. Meg wagged and sniffed and snuffled in the phone, and Mom said she sat up like she was listening. It felt good to say, "You're a good girl, Meg," even though I couldn't touch her.