Sail Around

I like the old folk songs. Singing them, playing them. The good ones keep changing, don’t sound the same as yesterday. Or they make you wonder, the way the words go. It’s comforting, but you can’t say why exactly.

Like this: “The cold cow died/sail around.” Sail where? With whom? Around what?

It stayed in my head today – laying on the floor whispering, walking in the dark, driving on the highway. The word “sail” rendering nicely with Freud’s “oceanic feeling,” which for some reason was on the brain.

Anyway, Jake, the old dog, died today. It was gentle as those things go, a couple hours of hard breathing, then a darkening, then a letting go. There was time to say goodbye. And I was there at the end, sitting a little off from him. Mostly I felt grateful. I was ready. I wasn’t a few months ago. Maybe I wasn’t a week ago.

Tara Singh says, Pay attention. Notice your feelings, what you do. Don’t judge your thoughts, just see them. You don’t understand them anyway. If you can really see them, that is something. That is a beginning.

I noticed how I lean toward prayer, reflexively. How I hate weakness. How I savor grief in exquisite sips, like a moth drinking tears.

And I noticed all my brothers and sisters, both the ones who know I’m their brother and the ones who don’t. It doesn’t matter. I was grateful that I could be kind out in the world, could remember the importance of that, of making it be about someone else. I was grateful for the many kindnesses shown to me all day, going here and there, doing things.

And then later, in the familiar winter dark, walking in the field behind the old home, watching planes fly back and forth below the shimmering Milky Way, cold and shivering in the dark, I listened for him. Footsteps in the frosty grass, jangle of tags coming up behind me. How many years that Love helped me clarify!

But he was gone, he didn’t come back. The old dog died, sail around.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Paul January 8, 2011, 5:09 pm

    Sean, love your writing.. thank you for sharing your thoughts with those of us who cannot express them with your skill… I feel closer to Worthington reading your work, it is appreciated.. time marches on… : )

  • Bet Carbery June 6, 2013, 7:32 am

    Sean – what a lovely way to say goodbye to Jake. I wondered if I had done the right thing with my Jake (a border collie) – giving him medication, etc, etc. Why not just let nature take its course? The medication didn’t do much good anyway. You just wonder how much you should interfere with animals or human beings. Saying goodbye to an old faithful friend is so difficult that we try to keep them with us as long as possible. Difficult decisions.

    Bet

    • Sean Reagan June 8, 2013, 10:17 am

      Hi Bet,

      Yes, it is so hard to know what’s right in those cases. And it’s such a personal question anyway. The end came relatively quickly for Jake; but it still hurt to say goodbye. And I wondered if there was more to do. But mostly it felt as if I needed to just let him go. I could see it in his eyes actually: he was done and it was time to move on. I had always had a fantasy of holding him when he died, but it turned out that I had to give him space and just sit at a distance. He was so good to me. Even now from time to time I sense him on the trail beside me.

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