This past winter was not an easy one.  Not because the weather was that bad, but because so much of it was involved in caring for Lola.  I can’t say that I didn’t love every moment with her, even at the end, when I knew it was her time – and I can say that life is a bit easier now, not having that responsibility. But I still miss her and I still wish that she would bark when I walked in the door, or make me laugh when she did something silly.

Last night I saw the film “Rabbit Hole” and it was about the loss of a child.  How you deal with loss is such an interesting subject to me now, after having spent so much time learning about it, experiencing it.  The film depicted two characters I didn’t find particularly likable, but I did feel for them both, and understand their different ways of grieving.  I guess that’s what I’ve learned – everyone grieves differently, and at their own pace.  

So I’m ready for spring, a new beginning.  I’m more than ready. 

I don’t really have much to say about losing my beloved dog, Lola.  It hurts and I miss her AND it was a peaceful passing.  I was so lucky to be able to hold her and she didn’t seem afraid, she seemed ready.  

I couldn’t have asked for a more devoted or sweeter dog.  She was the light of our lives, the happiest, least neurotic being in our family.  I brought her home with Zoe and neglected to ask Steve if it was okay that we have a second dog.  Well, actually, I did ask many times and each time he said no.  So it was a bad breach in our marriage and it’s something I would never do again in any relationship.  But it was also the best worst mistake I ever made.  Steve fell deeply in love with Lola and she enriched all our lives in ways we can’t even begin to understand.  I doubt I could have made it through the past two years without her spirit, her joie de vivre.  No matter what physical impediments she had to deal with, she never stopped wagging her tail, enjoying every walk, meeting new people, barking at dogs, and happily picking up crap off the sidewalk.  

She was courageous and funny and I don’t think anyone could resist her charms.  She lightened my life, got me out of bed in the morning, and made every walk an adventure. Even when I had to carry her outside, I felt it was a gift, like she had become my baby and I wanted only to care for her and give her the best life I could.  When it came to the time that I could no longer provide that, we (Abigail, my loftmate and I) knew we had to let go.

It was one of the most painful decisions of my life, but once I made it, I knew it was the right one.  Holding her at the end was a gift.  Comforting her as she took her last breath was the least I could do for the nine years of pleasure she gave me.  She wasn’t an easy dog to train – she was sometimes loud and embarrassing when she barked at dogs five times her size. But she was my Lola, my sweet little girl and I will miss her every day and I am so thankful that she came into our lives and brought us so much light and happiness.  And now I have time to focus on Lucy again and try to give her the best life she can have without her little buddy.  Only she knows how much she misses Lola, how sad she is about the missing member of our little family. 

Last week, it looked like Lola (lot of L’s there) wasn’t going to survive the weekend and she is still here.  She perked up all week and though she’s sleeping a lot, she’s got a great appetite and she still loves affection.  Right now, she’s sleeping on a little bed in my room and doesn’t seem to want to move.  My heart hurts when I look at her and I am also so grateful for each day we have together.  

This was a good week.  My friends Karen, Abigail and I had a lovely meeting with a Mama Gena friend who is a Broadway producer. She couldn’t have been more generous with her time and gave us great information.  And then yesterday, I helped a client find the most perfect apartment in a gorgeous building in Greenwich Village.  It’s one of those celebrity buildings, or as my client’s daughter calls them “The Famouses.”  We went out to lunch at Otto afterward to celebrate.  She’s a widow who has no interest in dating and I’m starting to enjoy dating.  She was married to a truly great man, a brilliant author and a very kind person.  I’m grateful to be working in fields that enable me to meet such fantastically interesting people just about every day!

My beloved dog, Lola, (the beagle on the right) isn’t doing too well these days.  We’re getting close to the end.  I haven’t been writing much because I’ve been dealing with so many ups and downs, but Lola is, by far, the hardest part of these cold winter days.  The lump on the side of her head, which started out like a small golf ball, is now like an orange.  She isn’t eating her food, but will eat chicken, ham and liverwurst.  She can hardly walk, but she still wags her tail and she is still there.  Inside.  Lola is still Lola.  But with a brain tumor, it’s only a matter of time before she’s not and I have to make this decision before she is suffering.

One of my best friends, Julie, has made that decision about her beloved Arlo.  Today is the day.  We spoke on the phone yesterday and had a good cry. Arlo is truly one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever known, a big hound/mutt. 

These creatures have been there for us through every life event for the past 13 (Arlo) and 9 (Lola) years.  They have given us unconditional love.  We have been their mommies and they have been our “kids.”  

I can feel the grief beginning to come to the surface, but one of the greatest blessings in all of this sadness, is how much support and love we have around us.  Once again, my deepest gratitude is to my friends and neighbors, especially Abigail.  Lola has had a very good life and so has Arlo.  I’m lucky I still have my older dog, Lucy, but her time will have to come soon, too.  

I’m reminded of the phrase from Friends In Deed, the Sally Fisher quote: “The quality of our lives is not determined by the circumstances.” The divorce goes on, my little dog is dying, my friend Julie is losing her beloved dog, it’s one of the coldest Januaries I can recall, I’m filled with sadness, and yet, I appreciate so much in life, too.  The sun is shining.  We had friends over last night for delicious homemade Mexican food.  I’m living in my city, the one I love and I live in my wonderful neighborhood, surrounded by people I’ve known for over twenty years.  I work for an incredibly lovely person, in an office filled with great people.  My play is having a reading this spring.  And for today, Lola is curled up on the rug nearby and I can go over and rub her neck and her belly.  And tell her how much I love her.  

I just heard from Julie that Arlo is gone.  She said it was painless and swift. They raised a glass to Arlo afterward and I do too.  Rest in peace, Arlo.  

Lola, my little beagle, is fine!  Her lump turned out to have no sign of cancer cells and is probably hyperplastic proliferation – excessive growth of muscle or tissue.

So, I guess Lola is a bit like my mother, she’s one tough cookie.  She probably has a benign tumor in her cerebral cortex which has affected her gross motor skills, making it difficult for her to walk.  She has an adorable prancing movement, which she seems to have perfected, her front legs move separately from the hind legs.  She has lost most of her vision, has arthritis, bladder issues, and frequently lies down on walks.  But her tail wags often and she seems to attract everyone who sees her.  She’s the sweetest dog, except when she decides to bark at another dog, which she does for no obvious reason, just because she wants to.  

I couldn’t imagine losing her yet and I’m so relieved that she will be with us for awhile longer, at least.

I read this quote on a subway yesterday, by Stephen W. Hawking, which I particularly liked:

“The whole history of science has been the gradual realization that events do not happen in an arbitrary manner, but that they reflect a certain underlying order, which may or may not be divinely inspired.”

Last night I had a nightmare about running from a tsunami.  This has been a recurrent nightmare over the years, but when I woke up I felt like I literally was underwater and filled with dread.  
I did my meditation, sitting with the feelings, trying just to breathe and not thinking about ways to alleviate the uncomfortable feelings.  It didn’t feel good at all and my mind kept wandering to yesterday, when I did feel very good, or to my time with Zoe, and my friend Mona, who visited this past week from Los Angeles.  Thursday we went to opening night of a show called “Red” with Alfred Molina, which was excellent and it’s always thrilling to go to an opening night.  We also walked all over the city earlier in the day, including the High Line and Central Park. The weather is gorgeous now (unlike when Zoe was here and it rained every day.)  
I thought about making my coffee stronger and putting on some dance music, but I didn’t, I just sat with the feelings.  And then I tried to think about some spiritual message I could find, quickly, and I remember The Daily Word, which I heard about through Maya Angelou, who sent it to Oprah, and they both read it every morning.  It’s a small magazine published by Unity and it’s also on-line.  It’s read by hundreds of millions of people all over the world every day.  Here is today’s message:

New Creation
The power of God transforms my life.
I may associate darkness with fear or sadness. Yet darkness may also mark a new beginning, a time of transformation. Out of what was, something new emerges. The chick emerges from the egg; the butterfly emerges from the cocoon. Time in the darkness is an important and essential part of the process of life.
Jesus knew that the darkness of the tomb held the promise of eternal life. In faith I move through times of challenge, even of sorrow, expecting good to be revealed through the activity of Spirit. In the midst of what may appear to be darkness, I open myself to new wisdom. With each experience, I emerge a new creation of Spirit.
Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy.–John 16:20
Now I am Jewish, but I’ve come to think of Jesus as a teacher and I love when a message seems to speak directly to me on a particular day.  I finally got out of bed and took the dogs out for a walk.  It’s another absolutely gorgeous spring day and I’m going to take a walk with  a new man I met on a dating site.  He is a novelist and had a career in theater.  He’s coming in from upstate, which was lovely of him to do on such a gorgeous day when he could be puttering around in his garden.  We are meeting later this afternoon at the arch at Washington Square Park. 
There’s a movie crew setting up on my block and when I walked Lola by them, everyone smiled and pointed –  her “prance” seems to delight every person who sees her.  People are in conversations and stop and look or take out their Iphones and film her.  They stop eating when they notice her out the window of a restaurant, or stop us and ask me about her.  She is mostly blind and has arthritis and probably had some kind of brain injury, a stroke or something – the doctor says there is nothing we can do to fix her, she’s happy, she eats, she can get around quite easily on the sidewalk, less easily on hardwood floors, but in any case, she is truly one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever known and I’m crazy about her.  

At the end of the walk, I asked one of the crew about the show and he said that Bradley Cooper was in it and that also cheered me up.  
When I came home I went back to read one of my posts from a few days ago: “Suffering is Optional” and read one of the quotes Pema Chodron said about trying to make life smooth and easy and how that equates with death.  
So at least I know I’m very much alive!  There may be tsunamis and darkness, but there are also beautiful spring mornings. 

One final thought: I just went to check my email and found my daily message from Mama Gena:

“Don’t be impatient. Allow yourself some space to change.”

Impatience should also be on my subject title.  

Every day I try to pack for at least an hour to prepare for this move out of a loft I lived I’ve lived in for two years with my husband, my daughter and our two dogs.   I should be pretty good at this by now, we moved three times in the past six years.  We moved out of a loft we owned in Soho that we had to sell because we needed the money.  We moved to a lovely rental, an upper duplex in a beautiful brownstone in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, and then again, after a year, to the lower duplex in the same house.  You would think that just moving downstairs would be easy, but it required about the same amount of work – boxes, movers, disruption.  And the only thing different about this move is that I am not keeping much, and rather than just throwing everything into boxes (as one of my friends suggested and dealing with it another time, when I’m not so emotionally raw) –  I am trying to discard many of the things I’ve carried with me over the years, that I no longer need. 

And that is not an easy task.  I find that I am dealing with more emotions in the last six months than I probably have in most of my life.  And as painful as that is, it’s also healthy, to feel so much and to let it just move through me. 

Yesterday, my little dog Lola was sick and she could hardly move, she was vomiting most of the day.  Also it was Yom Kippur, so I fasted from sundown to sundown and lit candles for both my parents.  By the end of the day I was so worried about Lola (I did call the vet and listened to their advice – watch her, give her Pepcid – she vomited that – no more food.)  This morning she seems a little better, at least so far.  I missed talking to Steve about her, since he adores Lola, but I know calling him wouldn’t have helped anything.  So I called a few friends and got through a difficult day that was filled with anxiety and hunger. 

And I continue packing and grieving.  Occasionally, I do have good memories of the past and I’m proud of all the work I’ve done to get ready for the move.  I’m also excited about my new life.  But change is always difficult and it’s the first time in my life that I haven’t had a mom to talk about it with.  And also the first time in twenty-five years that I haven’t had a partner to help. 

But I’m pretty strong and the phrase “this too shall pass” reminds me to just keep packing and doing the work, and the rest of it will all sort itself out. 

And I do have to say that I’ve had two wonderful gifts this week.  I got to see “Wishful Drinking” with Carrie Fisher on Sunday, which I enjoyed.  My friend had to go out of town and she gave me her ticket. And tomorrow night, I have a free ticket to “God of Carnage” with James Gandolfini, Hope Davis, Jeff Daniels and Marcia Gay Harden.  Thank you Karen and Barbara.  I love you both.  And Barbara, I hope you feel better soon.

I woke up, drank my cup of coffee, realized that my back is still killing me from my dancing experience this past weekend (where I tried to show that a fifty something woman could have starred in “Flashdance”) – and then I took my dogs out for their walk.

And that’s when I watched my cute little Lola fall down a long flight of stairs. Lola has arthritis and she has been having a slightly difficult time for the past few weeks going down the stairs. Any smart person would always have her on the leash so if she did start to fall, she wouldn’t go too far. But I am not a smart person, especially at 8 am. I was a sleepy person who wasn’t really functioning.

Lola looked completely shaken up, her right paw was obviously hurting her, so I carried her most of the walk and then waited until the vet’s office opened. They said to bring her in. (Naturally.) An hour and a half later, two x-rays, a thorough examination to the tune of $350 and some medication, she thankfully has no internal injuries or broken bones, just a sore leg.

My back is worse. I’ve never really had a bad back before, this is new to me. I’m getting on a plane in two days to go to Spain, leaving my very old, incontinent Lucy and my slightly injured Lola with Zoe, my newly turned 21 year-old. Pray for us.

Lola, 6 years old and Lucy, 12. They are going to New Jersey to stay at Josephine’s. They’ll have a big backyard to play in, and I’m sure she feeds them steak. They love her.