Sometimes when it's quiet here it's because we're out living life to its fullest and I can't make time to write.
Other times it's because it's hard to find the words for the thoughts that are filling my head. And sometimes the words I do find are less about inspiration and more about grief. And those are even harder to share.
2014 has been heavy with goodbyes. There were the lambs we lost last winter, the llama, two cats, a guinea pig, a goat, and a goat kid.
So many tears. So many goodbyes. More than my tender heart can bear. Many more than I've had the courage to share here.
And as it all unfolded I have watched this dog of my heart growing older.
Jasper. My forever dog.
Sixteen years ago when I wandered into the dog pound with an hour to lose before an appointment I wasn't looking for a puppy.
I'm not sure what brought me there, unless it was the soul of the sweetest dog I've ever know calling me to him so we could spend a lifetime together. His lifetime.
Sixteen years ago, at twenty-five, I wasn't wondering what our life would look as we grew up and grew older together. I didn't wonder at how this guy would fit seamlessly into my world as my family grew to include two kids and countless other animals.
Nor was I thinking of the heart-full of worry you tend to pick up along with a heart-full of love.
All I knew that day was puppy love.
And when I brought him home from the shelter, curled in my lap in the front seat of the car, the last thing on my mind was that someday we would have to say goodbye.
But every loved one comes with a first hello and a final goodbye, I suppose.
But that's best not to think about most days.
Jasper. My shadow. My biggest fan. My first baby.
This dog has shown me unconditional love, endless patience, and a boundless adoration that it's hard to feel worthy of.
He has been by my side - literally and figuratively since I brought him home.
And as I look into his ancient eyes today I ponder how our children spend a small fraction of their lives in our home, but our pets give us their everything.
Their babyhood, their adolescence, and their old age.
Their birth and their death. We are their center for all of their days.
And today we're nearing the end of those days.
Jasper and I are standing on the cusp of goodbye.
Well, I stand anyway. He's laying down. It's all he can muster.
During the past few months his aging has accelerated, and in the past few days he's nearing the end so fast it's hard to catch my breath.
We're doing our best to make him comfortable and show him more love than he'll know what to do with until he takes his leave.
But, oh my this is hard. My heart is in my throat.
Because in the end more loving means more pain. And yet it's beyond worth that exchange.
This is what it means to give your heart away. I think it's the point of being alive.
But it's damn painful.
And so here we stand. Near the end of our path together.
Sixteen years of love culminating with my heart breaking in my chest? That's about right.
And as I type this he lifts his head just a bit, watching me from his pillow in the corner.
Oh, Jasper. I love you, buddy. And I will miss you so. More than any animal I've ever known.
Yes, it's time for him to go alone on his next journey. I think he's ready.
Me? Not so much.
Safe travels old man. It's time to romp and run once more.