Many years ago I threw away several pairs of shoes that had been the objects of a gleefully unsupervised chewing session. I came home to an open closet and a footwear massacre – my beloved puppy had his way with my beloved shoes. At that time I was attached to my possessions and notably upset. I acted as though I valued the shoes more than the relationship I had with Vaughn, the puppy.
As the years have passed I have often wished that I kept at least one of those mangled shoes. I would look at it much differently today than I did 15 years ago. I realize that is still an attachment to an object and I have the memory, but there is something about touch that resonates.
While I was tidying recently, I noticed that a small section of the dining room table was pitted and collecting more damage by the day. It happens to be where my son, The Boy, used to sit and bang anything he could grab during meals. The table is a Duncan Phyfe and would be worth a good amount if fully restored. It is more valuable to me with the beautiful damage that comes with our lives. Our home is far from a showroom and I wouldn’t want it to be. The adventures we have usually translate into some tangible memory that someone else would dismiss as gross or unsightly. As much as I enjoy seeing those things on a daily basis, I admit that there is a point at which moving on is most productive.
I recently painted the living room, including the window trim and sills. In the process I cleaned and gently sanded the wood before priming it. The sill of the largest window has hosted two drops of dried blood since 2007 from the last nosebleed Vaughn had. Until now I haven’t been ready to remove them. I am pleased to report that the blood drops were scrubbed away. I shed a few tears in the process, but for my love of Vaughn rather than the loss of the dirty window sill. I don’t need crusty blood to remind me of how incredibly wonderful he was and how much I miss him every day.
It's on days like this I am most thankful we have our family's art on display. I know when I need, I can look up on the wall and see Vaughn patiently waiting for our next conversation. I feel more connected to him.
Thank you, Vaughn, for so many things. In this case, thank you for providing me the opportunity to learn the value of relationships and memories is far greater than the value of stuff.
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.