You've had days, maybe even weeks, where you've put off taking care of yourself.
Someone in your family needed you. The extra vet appointments and the trips to the compounding pharmacy. The special store for the special food. The clever ways of disguising medication. The softest, warmest places to rest. The help getting up and getting around.
You have been due to see your dentist and get a haircut. Take a vacation. Exercise. Eat well.
You skimp on those things because you reason someone else needs you more. That if you can just get through this next rough patch, then you can relax a bit and care for yourself.
We both know it doesn't work that way.
If I were sitting beside you right now, I'd tell you that it is a good thing for you to schedule that haircut, and visiting the dentist is definitely essential. You can make the time to prepare food for yourself that is nourishing rather than scarfing down what is easiest, making yourself available to serve others.
I could be sitting down with myself having this same conversation. I am this person, too. I started seeing it show up in my art, of all places, and realized that one of the things I could do was to create things because I felt like creating them. Because they were interesting to me.
Like this elephant.
I am fascinated by these creatures. Their social structure and families. Their wisdom. Their memories for landscapes and seasons that help them navigate. Their care for one another.
I felt like I needed a reminder that someone, somewhere sees me and gets me. Someone knows when to call me on my stuff and when I need gentle encouragement. Someone who tells me that it's okay to make time for the things I want to do, even if that means I have less time available to give to others.
I've been working on her for weeks in little bits at a time, and now that she's ready, I definitely see that the effort was worth it.
So this is your reminder to take care of yourself and that someone, somewhere sees you. <3
I miss you most in the spring.
Watching the world awaken and stretch. The cherry trees bud, bloom, and shower their petals. Feeling the sun on my face and seeing it move across the hardwood floor in the afternoon for the first time in months. The ground softens with rain and comes alive with shoots and starts.
It's all the possibilities of life unfolding before me. Like the day I met you. You found a way to bring spring into every day - there was always something new and an unexplored possibility in your eyes.
I miss you most in the summer.
Baking in the concentrated heat from the sun, streaming into our forest. The perfect balance between sun and shade. Wading in creeks. Running for no reason other than joy. Hearing your paws thunder over dry ground. Seeing your paw prints in damp sand, just beyond the reach of the ocean. Collapsing at the end of the day from adventure-induced exhaustion, and being ready to go again at a moment's notice.
It's the fullness that reminds me of you. The colors, the scents, the warmth, the intensity. Summer is everything at full blast.
I miss you most in autumn.
Snuggling up on the sofa, under piles of blankets. The scuffle-scuffle-crunch sound of your steps over fallen leaves. How the greying of the sky and the brilliance of the maple tree were perfectly matched. Watching you turn over leaves and needles with your massive snout, snarfling what must have been the very best scents in the entire world, then crouching into a momentary play bow and freezing before tearing off on a fit of zooms. The scent of your wet coat, the one that is still hanging, and the scent of your wet coat, that has been reduced to a wooden box on our dresser.
It's the hygge. The closeness. The contemplation. The looking inward while reaching outward.
I miss you most in winter.
Bundling up to go outside. Feeling the chill of the wind on my face. Did you feel that, too? Listening to how quiet Nature becomes as she rests. Your arthritis is so much worse when it's cold. Seeing the steam rise from the stockpot on the stove, full of your meals for the week, and appreciating your company in the kitchen. Holding your paw between my hands and applying salve to your pads to keep them from splitting. Listening to the rainwater drip from your coat onto the shower pan; it needs to dry before we can go outside again.
It's the slowness, I think. The focus on resting and recovering in preparation for the eagerness of spring. The accumulated wisdom of the other seasons. The richness in stillness.
I miss you most when you aren't here. Every day.
I'm Shannon, and I love and am loved by four Great Danes, four cats, and one horse (four Danes, one cat, and one horse are no longer walking this earth). Here I'll share stories of my adventures in grief photography for companion animals, my own grief journey, and thoughts on caregiving.