Sweeping Up the Pieces of Our Heart

I lifted her into the truck, for cancer had taken too much from her and her leap had long ago forsaken her. She gave it little matter, content to simply be within my call. If she were near enough my scent, then she would lay patiently fixing her eyes in my direction. We drove into the backwoods, a shovel, a gun and conversation which I had readied for our last hours together.

Her eyes peered out from the total black of fur like little moons piercing the black of night and she kept them, even from blink, whenever I would speak, alert to my every word. Her trust of me was irrevocable. The old truck and I had long ago assured her that we were partners in every journey, great or small. She was content to be in our company once again. So many walks together, so many days fishing, so many conversations, so many errands. All those past moments kept suspicion of anything different from the day before us.

To say that she was my friend is to diminish her full meaning upon my life. She was closer than shadow and would manage my want for company without intrusion. She knew instinctively when my need of her was more. She was first upon my waking and always there to guard my sleep. First to meet me at any return and at my side in every work. She was the follow in my step, a warm rest cradled in my lap, the patient wait which attended my very life, whether standing or at sit. She was as much in my coming and my going as the shoes which kept my feet.

We found an old logging road and I followed it until my conversation begged far too much from a heart that knew the day. Arriving at no particular destination, I left the truck and marched stoically to a spot beneath a large Ponderosa Pine and began to dig her final place. There I would lay yesterdays and the tomorrows that would soon be forever, incomplete. I lifted her from the truck and set her down. She followed instinctively to the place which I had marked. I had dressed the hole with covering that would come to keep her and spread her blanket there with playthings that had become daily reminders of the bond between us. Perhaps, a subtle intent to believe that she would wake with them in another place and find comfort in familiarity.

Shakespeare said that "Parting is such sweet sorrow" but that was never meant for a parting such as we confronted on this day. That could not have been meant for final parting. I beckoned her to her blanket and in unwavering faithfulness she laid herself in trust upon the place. I spoke to her in words I can't remember, but, I remember that they were not words which come from places where I go to think; they came from feeling places, places deeper than I have gone before. They were words which after measure serve a truth, that there are moments when words fail the only task they have. She looked up from those moon eyes breathing in the words which fell in desperate insufficiency. I did not see the end through the tears that blurred both eye and heart from all that I had come to do. The silence was shattered in a final plea to take the lingering pain forever from her and then, it fell like rain upon my broken heart.

There are places in our deep which never heal completely. Places that claim forever, a part of us for themselves. Places where love refuses to leave alone that portion of our heart that stays forever in the place we leave behind. Life reserves such places for us all.

That I could no longer look upon her pain and chose to take it from her does not heal my want of her today. Although I grow accustomed to her absence, I look for her in still familiar places. Still I reach down to stroke the head that isn't there. I know that the love that did not want to let her go, was even more, the love that could not let her stay. In that final moment her eyes looked up to me, they held me tight and took a part of me that shall never be recovered.

Life promises us some measure of both pleasure and of pain. Of endings. It is a promise that comes with living. Like some porcelain doll fallen to the floor we gather the pieces and glue them together only to discover that there are tiny slivers unrecovered, gone forever. The heart does not break unscathed. There are pieces unrecovered, pieces inherited by the moment, by the scattering of brokenness across the floor that keeps our lives. We sweep up the pieces of our heart and put them back together the best we can but we know, we always know; there are pieces unrecovered.

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Comments 44 comments

alastar packer 5 years ago

Oh arb you have welled my eyes up for the empathy is so strong. this is so beautiful.you did the loving thing my friend God bless you i can barely type this is thew first hub that has made me cry.Love surely rules Creation.

arb profile image

arb 5 years ago from oregon Author

Thanks alastar, i had to pause repeatedly just to get it done. Thanks my friend. Be well.

Edlira profile image

Edlira 5 years ago

You are amazing arb! I also cried after reading your hub and believe me few writers have managed to do that... What a touching story...I felt your pain.

arb profile image

arb 5 years ago from oregon Author

Good morning edlira, crying was the release that allowed me to finish and take it from where I left it buried. I hope that memory will now take a gentler course. Thank you for your words and be well.

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

I also am crying. Real love and compassion does that to me. Only true love sacrifices self for another. Thank you for sharing this with us all.

b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 5 years ago

Oh Arb, what a Beautiful tribute in story form to your faithful pet and friend...You did what was right for this wonderful little companion...I am truly sorry for your loss. But she is at peace and out of pain, and in a better place...and you will always have the memories of her and the happier times in life that you shared.

Rhonda Waits profile image

Rhonda Waits 5 years ago from The Emerald Coast

This was touching story. Be well always.

Sweet wishes Rhonda

arb profile image

arb 5 years ago from oregon Author

Hyphenbird, I just noticed your picture. You probably should not read-peck,peck,pecking!If you do I am sorry! Thank you once again for your comment. I cried even more trying to write it. be well.

arb profile image

arb 5 years ago from oregon Author

Hi b. Thank you so much for your comment. I do appreciate your words. be well as always.

arb profile image

arb 5 years ago from oregon Author

Hi Rhonda, thank you so much for reading and for the lovely comment, I am delighted that you were touched. be well my friend.

BenWritings profile image

BenWritings 5 years ago from Save me from, Tennessee

Ugh, this was beautiful, and sad...it makes me really want to go get a dog.

Dogs are wonderful creatures, capable of bringing such happiness and joy.

I live alone, and have been wanting one for a while now, but I'm not allowed to have pets where I live :[

is that picture your dog?

Sorry for your loss, and wonderful hub, arb

arb profile image

arb 5 years ago from oregon Author

Hey Ben, yes, had her for 12 years. Story I finally found the guts to write. Took place a year ago but just couldn't deal with it till now. Have a new one now, a boxer in my profile pic. I am getting attached. Hey Ben, thanks for reading. Be well my young friend.

gogol-lives-among profile image

gogol-lives-among 5 years ago from Philadelphia


If I said I wasn't a blubbering mess right now I would be lying. The loss of a pet, especially a dog, is almost like losing a child in that there is a true incomprehensible innocence that resonates about them. Congrats on a fine piece!


Genna East profile image

Genna East 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

"They were words which after measure, only serve a truth, that there are moments when words fail the only task they have."

Oh Arb; this was so poignant and beautiful, and brought me to tears. She was indeed blessed to have known your love, life and care. Thank you for sharing this with us. Peace and love...dear Arb.

arb profile image

arb 5 years ago from oregon Author

Hellow Brian and welcome to hub pages. Thank you for reading and for the gracious comment. I look forward to reading your work. Be well.

arb profile image

arb 5 years ago from oregon Author

Welcome home Genna, I have missed you. As always, thank you for your thoughtful comments. It was a wonderful and long relationship which I am trying to find in my new dog. Each one is so different and I will cling to what made her so special. Be well Genna, I hope things have unfolded to bring peace and joy!

chander mehra profile image

chander mehra 5 years ago from Delhi

How touching!

arb profile image

arb 5 years ago from oregon Author

chander, Thank you for reading.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

I can hardly see to write for real tears in my eyes and rolling down my nose. A trusting pet who loves one and is loved in kind is perhaps the dearest of all loves. Your actions expressed your love in sparing her more pain; and your feelings and now your words express how difficult and painful for you to have to. But being the one to do it and being with her, together in almost a normal togetherness - and for her, totally normal - till the moment was such great loving. My empathy, my friend.

arb 5 years ago

Hello Nllieanna. Thank you so much for your kind words. She was indeed very special. I am in california (90 today)house sitting 2 mastiffs and two dachsuns for my son and his wife. They went to Hawaii for a week. Rather than relaxing my son gave me two projects to do and I am worn out at the end of every day. My back has not seen such labor in a while. I have missed you though, I think you had guest. Needless to say, I've not spent much time here since leaving Oregon. I drove down (10 hours)through a 3 hour blizzard. I had gripped the wheel so hard for so long, my hands were cramped the rest of the way. Anyway, it was a delight to visit. Be well my friend.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

That 10 hour drive with the blizzard does NOT sound fun. I can fully imagine the hands gripping the wheel for the duration of it. White knuckles?

Between dogs and projects, it sounds like you have full-time work now that you're there,too. I'm sure your being there is fully appreciated and having plenty to do is surely better for you than being idle and bored!

We are also having balmy weather in the 80s here in Dallas, though the week my company were here was a bit nippy, and the weekend trip we all took to northern Oklahoma was really nippy. My guests have returned to Gilroy where they live, not far from San Francisco.

This weather here now is lovely; though, of course, it means that soon the HOT, HOT summer will arrive. Fortunately, it stays rather pleasant through May and some of June, but summer lasts well through September and into early October. It will be A/C time for quite awhile, though I try to be conservative with it. This month is still likely to bounce back and forth, but not more really cold stuff is likely.

I won't be online as much as normal, either. I must get busy and do taxes - my own return and George's estate's. The returns (with Turbo-Tax) are not all that difficult, once I get down to them. I keep iinformation organized all year, so it's not bad. It's just waiting for me to start posting it on the forms. I've been doing our taxes for quite a few years, actually. We used to do them together till he just couldn't focus well enough. I had to learn his part quickly, since he realized his limitation the day the taxes were due (already on the extension) so I had to muddle through somewhat. I always had done my ranch stuff and general household stuff, but he had other things which I was barely into. Thank goodness for Turbo Tax and the little I'd paid attention before! So far, so good. No backlashes so far. :-)

Thanks for the reply. I fully understand you are quite involved elsewhere. It's a pleasure to exchange a few words whenever time permits!

Hope there are no more blizzards for you return trip!

arb profile image

arb 5 years ago from oregon Author

hi Nellieanna! Had quiet the accident yesterday. After putting down concrete stripper to remove sealant I inadvertently walk across it and slipped, hit my head on the concrete and ended up with a mild concussion. I was very disoriented for about 15 minutes and still have quiet the head ache. my sister drove over from Santa Cruz and stayed the night, just in case, but I seem to be doing all right. I worked out there all day today. Monday My sister is coming back over with my Mom for the day. Praying for nice weather and an outside lunch.

I will being doing turbo when I get home, a two day adventure. The 4 dogs are keeping me busy and my old body aches from 10 hour days, but it feels good to work outside after a long winter in Oregon. I will probably spend a few days here relaxing and playing golf with my son before heading home Friday for my daughter's 30th Birthday Saturday. I am a busy beaver, Will keep you posted of my mishaps. HA Ha. Be well, Nellieanna.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

Oh, no, Alan! I'm shuddering. And somehow "mild concussion" sounds like an oxymoron. That, indeed, was quite an accident. Hitting your head on concrete, of all things, does NOT sound mild. And "seem to be" doing all right sounds, at best, a bit tentative. So I'm relieved that your sister and Mom are there to be sure you ARE doing OK before you set out on a 10 hour trip through who-knows-what kind of weather! Please don't underestimate an injury of that magnitude! OK, OK, - I've been Mom-like enough.

Surely you wouldn't be working out there all day soon after the accident if you weren't all right, right? And who am I to wonder if you're really OK, - I, who always insist I'm OK and always am OK. But I haven't had a concussion, mild or severe. My Dad was pitched off a horse in a canyon miles from the compound and walked back to the house with a concussion, thus proving that guys are macho - er -rugged, brave and courageous.

I'm sure that you will have plenty of chance to be sure you're OK while playing golf and relaxing with your son before undertaking the drive back home. So I feel better about it all. You see, I'm not done with you yet! :-)

Enjoy the rest of your visit, dear friend! And definitely, be well!

Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 5 years ago

Losing a pet is so much. It's hard. Thank you arb. I feel for you bud.

arb 5 years ago

Hey Mickey, thanks my friend. In Ca. this week house sitting for my son. Laying low and doing a project for him. Be weel.

QudsiaP1 profile image

QudsiaP1 5 years ago

Heart wrenching, truly heart wrenching.

These words are not of your alone but of every fiber of your being.

4elements profile image

4elements 5 years ago

This was a very sad but loving story. I can understand about a loss of a pet. I had a dog and he was so faithful to all of us in the family and very much loved, he got some kind os sickness that ate his stomach, he knew he was sick, I remember we could let him out no chain he would do his business and then come right back never did he run, and then one day he didn't return. My dad told me that sometimes when a pet knows its dying it will go off to a place instead of putting hurt on their master. i believed thats what happened although it did not stop the tears, he was faithful t othe end and still loved to this day. blessings

arb profile image

arb 5 years ago from oregon Author

4 elements, thanks for reading and for leaving a comment. Pet relationashipes run deeper than we think and their company is so missed when they leave us. Thanks againg and be well.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

Hi, Alan. Funny little story: One of my cats, (now long-gone), - Toulouse, quite the expert on EVERYTHING, of course (TRUE LEO), always made a horrible noise objecting when I sang. He didn't object when I merely spoke, but - singing, - no o o .

Well, I've been working on taxes and listening to my original iPod Nano with all the audios it picked up off an old computer, many of them, true treasures, mostly unavailable any other way. So I haven't had the heart to make any changes to it, since some of these are irretrievable and iTunes has tried to erase and start over when I've tried to add to these treasures.

Well, I went through a phase of both recording narratives of my (and other's) poetry and also of singing favorite songs and recording them on my computer, so sure enough, these were picked up when I first connected the iPod, so the "good" music is interrupted with my a cappella and none-too-great renditions! Today one's turn rolled around and played ("Nevertheless"), and at the end of the recording - - there was Toulouse, squawking like a real critic! I almost burst into laughter & tears simultaneously! He had the most awful voice anyway, and when he turned musical critic, it was unbearable. But it was so sweet to hear him, Alan. He's been gone now, along with his sister, Camille (who was also Leo, but much too polite to object!) for about 9 years and I still miss them.

Guess I'm just a bit sentimental. . .

arb profile image

arb 5 years ago from oregon Author

Hi Nellieanna! Thanks for sharing. Brought a needed laugh my way. I have taken a little break from hub. A combination of, I am all of a sudden busier than I would like and I have lost a little interest. Not to be alarmed for I have been there before. So many things occupying my mind lately that I find myself withdrawing from everything to find rest and peace. Finally put my taxes to bed and have caught up on chores that needed my attention after returning from Ca. I think I am catching a needed breath and escaping anything that wants my attention. I do miss the interaction, but, I was getting to a point where it took 2 hours a day just to read work and respond.Another hour to respond to comments left and I hadn't taken time to write anything yet. Anyway, there are actually a dozen people I really want to read and comment and follow, but, it seems to have taken on a life of its own. Reciprocation is taking over my life and being somewhat new, I have not yet learned to manage hub and time. Being one of those that I actually look forward to reading and commenting and just talking too, I do miss our discourse. My most dreaded e mail is "new work by your favorite authors" because then my morning becomes preoccupied with obligatory responses because they do the same when I publish something. Sounds like a marriage where we do because we are obliged. I am either looking for something to do or looking for a way to have nothing to do. "What a wretched soul I am." I just need a break. Thanks for listening my dear friend, but then, do you have a choice?

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

I know.

But it is too presumptuous to claim in what way i know, but I still do.

And, yes, I have a choice. I like to listen to honesty, for one thing; and for another, I value you highly.

Give yourself permission for any break you need. It will improve the overall conditions.


ChristineVianello profile image

ChristineVianello 5 years ago from Philadelphia

A tear came upon me as I read this. I know how hard it must have been you you and my sympathy goes out. We become so attached to our animal in our life, as they become close to us. Thank you for sharing your last moments with your dog with us.

David Warren profile image

David Warren 5 years ago from Nevada

That was the first and only hub that brought tears to my eyes. Thank you and I hope that writing and sharing it somehow brought you comfort.

cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 5 years ago from Los Angeles

Oh!Arb,this one really choked me up and brought back some very emotional moments with my own furry babies. You have so beautifully described the special bond between you both. I believe that our pets have an intuitive sense that we often overlook. They are attuned to our feelings. On your last day together, you showed great selflessness and love in saving her from suffering, and Moon Eyes loved you unconditionally- trusting in your love and devotion by showing no fear. Thank you for sharing your heart-wrenching story and bless you for the care you give to our four-legged friends. :>)

CMCastro profile image

CMCastro 5 years ago from Baltimore,MD USA


writinginalaska profile image

writinginalaska 5 years ago from southeast Alaska

brought me to tears.. have helped 4 pets pass on to a place of no pain. It never gets any easier. Beautiful write.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

I just had to drop by and remind you that you're still missed here! Hugs.

Genna East profile image

Genna East 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

I second Nellianna's thoughtful comment. You are missed. :-)

arb 5 years ago

I miss being here and hope to return soon. Currently enjoying an amtrac trip across the US with my wife. 10 days in NY'S Hudson valley and now in beautiful downtown Chicago visiting our daughter and new grandaughter for a couple of weeks. Miss reading hub pubs and my friends. As always wishing you all well. Thank you Nelleanna and Geena for keeping me around in your thoughts. What a wonderful place to be held!

Chuck Banks 4 years ago

My Friend....You always amaze me with your ability to touch hearts! You not only have a grift but are one!! Great tribute to a faithful friend!!! They have such ability to love unconditionally....

My Best to You...Chuck

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Stopped by your profile to see if you'd written anything lately and wanted to let you know that I was here. Hope all is well with you.

arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Been cleaning up past hubs. Feeling a need to write again. All is well. Thanks so much for asking!

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

Your story made me cry, release some of the pent-up pain I'm feeling for my poor ole cat Prince Albert. Maybe it's therapeutic. One of the hardest things is seeing our furry friends in pain, not like their former selves in all their glory. Images of my poor ole cat struggling to breathe still haunt me. Time will help, I know, but for now, it's hard not to simply hurt.

Isn't it true about dogs how they are right with you like your shoes--your comings and goings. My little dog is like that, too.

Sorry for the loss you endured. I love the moon eyes. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and memories.

arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Victoria - Probably the last thing you needed to read right now. We all are taking the same journey, just a different hour at each mile post! Be well Dear Victoria.

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