At its worst; losing a family member can be seem like a bottomless pit of sorrow, at it best it is a empty hollow place- either way it is an unavoidable ‘adjustment.’  Our own recent transition has been… as smooth as a thing that painful can be.  We had the benefit of knowing that it was the right time.  We had limited her suffering AND got to (more or less) plan her passing.

Still.

Most days, I utilized my 3 hour commute to work and back to cry and mourn.  This was an improvement from the last couple months.  In weeks leading up to the decision my commute was still as tearful.  Worry, guilt and fear at what I would come home to, filled the car.

Now that it is done and I have had time to reflect, I am just so grateful for the time we had.  My tears are shed in relief and raw gratitude.  Her life is now a legend there is no more need to worry about her pain or possible future pain.

I am more aware of the other two ladies who are going through a transition of their own.  Each in their own way.  After all, they never left each-others side.  Pele wants nothing more than to be close and cuddled.  Isis (who had taken to hiding under the table for the past few months) has reemerged.  A bit of her preciousness has stayed under the table, I think for good.  Like most youths’ first experience of a close death it has matured her.  We had been a true pack and the survivors are also adapting to the new reality.

All of us in our own way.

Ten days after that day my husband sent me this picture while I was talking with coworkers in my office.

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I had drastically underestimated how much this meant to me.  To have her close again.  Now, like my father before we were able to begin letting her go.

It just so happened that we were about to take a trip to Northern Maine to camp at Baxter State Park at the foot of Mount Katahdin.  There are no dogs allowed in the park.  However, there was no mention about the cremated remains of dogs, and we didn’t ask.

She made the 7 hour trek north in the passenger’s seat of Ry’s car.  Right where she should be.   She was first out on the picnic table.

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We made camp.

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For some reason if you have a ‘lean to’ site you cannot pitch a tent on the ground.  Even though our neighbors did.  It was as good thing we brought the hammocks!

Maybe this was because our site was literally ON a creek.  It was magical!

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The water was clear and clean and wonderful.  We didn’t dry off completely for 3 days.  In the hot muggy New England summers this was a true relief.  This summer has been a wet one and the forests had the mushrooms to prove it.

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We had brought along our well used/loved Autobahn Field Guides for mushrooms, insects and trees and spent our time walking around trying to figure out what things were.  Any aggressive insects who landed on us were promptly killed then identified.  There were 3 different types of horsefly, two variations of deerfly and countless unnamed biting fly-like creatures.

We woke up on the second day and went on across the creek and up to Abol Falls.

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Everyone washed their hair and the boys braved the water to get credit for a “full immersion.”  It is kind of like a Team Squeam merit badge.

After that, we decided to get the lay of the land and ended up driving almost the whole way around the park.  We unanimously decided that next time, we would get a site further in.  There is a lot of activity near the front of the park at the trail heads.   After about 20 min we passed an amazing spot in the river.

Evocative of Step Falls we all vowed THAT would be the plan for the next day, first thing!  That night saw an epic poker show down over gummy bears and marshmallow that went well into the night.

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At one point there was a Maori war dance bluff that was as impressive as it was random.  The next morning we rose early determined to get there before anyone else.

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It turned out to be one of the best river spots I have ever been on!  That is saying something if you consider where I grew up.   Beautiful clean water, running fast over smooth rocks into a big whirlpool that would take you quickly to its farthest point and bring you back around to the base of the slide.  If it wasn’t for the plethora of biting flies we never would have left.

We knew from passing this place yesterday that soon it would be filled with other people and so we got to work quickly.   I have been carrying a tin full of my dad in my bag for a while now.  Mostly, because I keep forgetting to take it out or scatter it but it was a good thing to have with us and we decided to mix him (already mixed with our dog Jake) with Honey.

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Two dogs and a guy 🙂

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We took turns going down the falls with them in our hand, letting them out as we slid.  After a while the boys wanted to try something else so before we had too much of an audience to observe our shenanigans we sent them flying.

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Pepper’s attempt made it look like he was controlling the wind too.

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It was one of those summer days that make all the time spent inside not matter.  For a few hours we had everything we needed, snacks, family, cool water and the time to do nothing more than be as we are.  Remembering the members of our clan who are no longer with us.  One more day together on a sunny river.

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The Yuba panning for gold.

I know Honey would have approved.  It was satisfactory.  The beginning of the end.  The flowing water a poignant reminder that everything passes through and moves on and this is the way it should be.  Holding on causes stagnation and costs the opportunity to see what is further down our path.

There are a few traditions that assert when you die- the entrance into the afterlife will be guarded by all the animals you ever had dealings with in your life.  That it will be their judgement of your character and actions that will determine the fate of your soul.  I hope it’s true.  Not because I think I would be judged worthy but just so I can see my friends again.

I miss you Honey, with all I am but I more glad you are free of your pain and I know we will be together again.

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