I cannot thank you enough for the outpouring of good wishes, prayer, sympathetic thoughts, and love for me and mine as we try to shoulder on without our pal. After sending him onward yesterday morning, I was home alone for quite a few hours and could not accustom myself to how ‘empty’ the house felt. And quiet. No snoring. No tick-tick-tick of pawpads on the floor. No jingleshake of tags. It was incredibly unsettling, and I imagine it will take me quite a bit of time to get used to it.
The kids are understandably grieving. But there are already signs of moving-on-ness. Eileen is right by my side, and theirs. Her grief -- she never wanted a dog in the first place, so seeing Wes worm his way into her heart was particularly touching -- is the hardest for me to witness.
We'll keep on, though.
So thank you again.
My life, probably like yours, is a series of compartments: Husband. Dad. Editor. Musician. Dog-guy. And funny enough, there is very little crossover among those roles. It’s not like I’ll be putting away music from church and have someone come up to me and ask about the proper use of a pinch collar. Or I’ll be helping to teach heeling and be asked about split infinitives.
But this occurred to me on the drive into work today, on a gray, cold, rainy morning when I’m imagining that the heavens themselves are marking the loss of a great dog. If I mashup a background in dogs with a background in music, I arrive here:
Wesley’s life was a symphony.
A symphony in four movements.
Movement one: Molto Prestissimo. We open the score and holy Hannah! What a mess on the page! More black notes than white spaces. THIS is music?!?!? Not a single rest. Wild key changes and time signature changes and almost not a single cohesive melodic pattern. The strings flailed furiously. The brass clashed stridently. Percussive explosions everywhere: BANG! BARK! AAH! NOOO! The audience almost threatened to walk out! How on earth could I conduct this mess?
Gradually, however, things began to calm. Consult with a master musician brings not only advise on how to proceed sanely but also a lifelong friend. Net-net win on that front. We continue to turn pages.
Movement two: Vivace. This was more like it. The pace is a little less breakneck, and except for an occasional flight of fancy, the musicians are much better able to handle what’s on the page. The strings are no longer churning; in fact, their music gains some heft and balance, with more voicing from the cellos and basses rather than the screeching violins. The time signatures become more predictable. An allegretto passage in the mornings. Another in the evenings. We even manage adagio during the overnights. I can conduct this.
Movement three: Andante. We’re comfortable here. The brass no longer assaults the ear but, rather, adds warmth and texture. The percussion now adds character. There are pizzicato sections that make us smile and laugh. The xylophone adds a comedic touch. The audience smiles. This is, thankfully, the longest movement, and the music soars with delight.
I am in my glory conducting here.
Movement four: Adagio to Largo. To my shock, I realize that we are in movement four. I’m unsure how many pages are left until the final measure, but I realize that we’ve been through a lot and that this symphony will not last forever. Is that possible? Is the piece really going to be that short? No. There’s time. There’s a coda. And then another. The tempo slows, but it’s still comfortable. Some passages go slower still, and turn… darker. What’s going on here? Extended solos for oboes and English horns? Long, somber tones coming from those cellos. Where are the cymbals? Where’s the piccolo? That happy glockenspiel? There are bright passages here and there, but this is unsettling.
A page turn.
And – how is this possible? The piece ends with long whole notes that rumble on until they end. And I sweep my arms into a cut. And the sound drifts off into the concert hall. What the hell? What was the composer here THINKING?!?! That’s it? No blaze of musical glory to finish out. No trumpet fanfare to mark the end. Just a quiet dénouement?
And then I realize: I am not the composer. I’m only the conductor. These notes were written by someone other than me. And although I can question what is on the page, I cannot change it. That is not my role.
And I wistfully lay down the baton.
And close the score.
And the audience applauds.
Kelrobin Cleveland Street Denizen, CGC, RN [Parker]
"Dear George: Remember, no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings. Love, Clarence" -- IAWL Screenplay (1946)
I can't read this, my eyes are already swollen from yesterday. Just know that you are all in my prayers and thoughts constantly since yesterday. I'll read it later when I get home.
"Each is a creature of Earth and is entitled to reside on it with dignity"
This is why you and Wes ARE one of the welll loved ones!!
Ah, Dan. This brings tears to my eyes yet again. I just have no words.
My prayer for you and your family, that God will grant you serenity and peace.
“If I know every single phone call you’ve made, I’m able to determine every single person you’ve talked to; I can get a pattern about your life that is very, very intrusive. And the real question here, is what do they do with this information that they collect – that does not have anything to do with al-Qaeda? And we’re gonna trust the president and the vice president that they’re doing the right thing? Don’t count me in on that.”
Joe Biden, 2006
My heart breaks for you Dan. I am glad I have an office where I can shut the door and shed some tears for Wes and his family. Hugs to you all.
Beautiful Dan. Just beautiful. As always you somehow know just the way to word it. The loss of Wes is felt here deeply and you know that we are all beside you in your grief.
Melissa, Remy & Brooklyn
Aw Dan, that was beautiful, and has me shedding tears into my coffee. A wonderful and fitting tribute.
Wow, just Wow!
Dan, you brought The Symphony of Wesley absolutely alive to my mind - as if I were one of those sitting in that audience actually listening to it.... thank you.
(((Hugs))) to you and yours in this time of loss.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." author Will Rogers
Auggie 12/29/95 ~ 01/15/09
I thought of you and your family quite a lot last night. It must have been a shock for them all to come home from school and find out what happened and that broke my heart.
All my best to you. It's just so damn hard.
Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end. -- Unknown
dweck, I know it is tough. Lost my beloved golden retriever last year. Like you, the empty house was hard to adjust to. And I failed at adjusting. Two weeks later I adopted the big guy in my signature and he has been a life safer. I didn't adopt him to forget about my old buddy, but I knew I was going to get one eventually so why not now. Everyone is different, you may need more time. But I hope you get back on the horse soon.
Again, sorry for your loss.