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Steph

All I can say is "Hugs" ...

fay

Dearest Nina
What a beautiful post today. I have been wondering about you all week, if you were ok. Dogs rock. I just love them all so. They do not care what you look like when you get out of bed in the morning, if your hair is standing on end, if you have morning breath, they just love you. When our little ben dog died, he was 18. For about the last year of his life we used to have to grab his butt to push him upstairs at bedtime, he refused to sleep anywhere except where he had slept every night of his life with us. He became very short sighted and had a bit of memory loss and got a bit deaf and grey but he was still that 6 week old little puppy I brought home with me that time so long ago, at least that is how I saw him. On the day he died my husband and I were heart broken. We went to bed and for the first time in a long time we were able to switch the landing light off and close the bedroom door. If we did not have the light on he would stumble around the bedroom and usually end up in the wardrobe LOL. Anyway, about 2am our bedroom door burst open and we felt him on the bed. He had come back to say goodbye. I have his ashes here at home. I miss him so.
Peace to you dear Nina and by the way the photos are wonderful. Screw the awful relatives, don't we all have some of them. bet they do not have a dog, if they did they would not be so miserable. I get my dog fixes these days by volunteering at the local dog shelter. I come home covered in hair and slobber, but I love it.
Peace to Aspen
Fay

Cindy Ericsson

I wondered, but hated to ask, if you'd had to choose to let Aspen go or if he passed on his own. I'm so sorry he's gone, but also glad he shared your life for so long. Everyone deserves the love of a good friend like that.

I love these photos of your family. You look beautiful, even more than usual, and your young men look so strong and ready to take on the world. Life is so complex, isn't it, how the joy and pain mingle? All through the day my daddy was dying, my niece's other aunt was laboring to give birth to her long-awaited child. It hardly seems fair that life never slows so that you can take the moments one at a time.
xxxxx

Shelley Noble

A beautiful life. A beautiful tribute. Bless you.

Jane

Oh, I am so sorry for your loss. It is terrible losing a pet. It was a lovely post. Yes, there is some comfort in being spared the "decision". I'm glad you had him for sixteen years, though. I will hope to have my beloved "Mocha" that long, he is ten.

Take care
--Jane

LeAnn

Beautiful. And look at all of that love and joy on your face. Only mothers ever truly look that way, I think. It's as if your face shines with the light when you first looked on your babies freshly born.

beth

thank you for sharing YOU with us and filling in the blanks where we had questions...

once again your post brought tears to my eyes, but this time, in a different way...a softer, more angelic way...

and by the way....you looked beautiful at the graduation, but what everyone saw the most...the pride, that only a momma can own, in the depth of your eyes !!

hhb

Hallo Dear One,
Such sorrow and joy in your life right now. As usual your words speak volumes. I think that another hound will 'find you'.

The day before my parents flew out to stay with me for 6 wks, my Dad had to hve his German Shepherd 'put down' ( as they say in the UK). It broke his heart, but it had to be done ( the gorgeous Sabre had a brain tumour).

I will send a link of this post of yours to him......

LindaSonia

As they often do, your heartfelt words leave me speechless yet feeling a myriad of emotions. Your feelings for Aspen made me weep. The joy you feel for your sons also made me weep. You are a gifted, special person. Thank you for blessing us with you.

LindaSonia

Gloria Martin

Dearest Nina,
I know your pain only too well. I have also suffered such a loss. My darling Chyna, who will live forever in my soul.
I cry deeply and sorrowfully for your desperately aching heart. May it heal quickly.


Angie Platten

Nina,
I already have written you with my deep sympathy for your loss but now, as I read your heart, I had to close my bedroom door so I could sit and just cry. I feel your pain and reading your words refreshed my pain of losing my 19 year old Abyssinian cat last year. She was my Aspen. I knew I couldn't go through my life cat-less... but I was so afraid to get another because of expectations for what I deeply wanted in another cat... I wanted Minya back. But in December, I did get another Aby. Kenzy is just a joy. He's very much like Minya but is much more social and puts up with anything my two young boys dish out. I love him dearly. Yet, he will never be a replacement for my Minya. He just has a different place in my heart, though just as deep and full of love. I pray that as your heart heals a bit, you can get another dog. Well, because we just need our fur children. There is nothing that can take their place. Know that for sure, you are not alone in your pain. I hurt for you as do many others.

Sue K.

I lost my Como dog this morning - half Springer Spaniel. I finally felt up to reading the blogs I follow just now and find this. More tears... No words...

Liza

You are an example of "Love conquers all". The love you have for Aspen is greater than the grief. The love of your sons greater than the slights of others. The love of Nature greater than loneliness. Love is the strongest and the most enduring. (Like those heart shaped rocks you collect.)

Karen Cannon

Thank you Nina for sharing Aspen's story. I do believe your sweet Aspen chose the best time to go...we lost our Halie last September and see so much of her in our new puppy, Jackson. I believe that she is still here with us today just as I'm sure Aspen is and will be with you should you bring another Spaniel home.

kim

loving you through tear stained eyes and paw prints on my heart...xo

minnie

nina, i share your sadness, we lost our beloved golden of 17 years "Sampson", he lived an unheard of age of 17, and was a legend at our beach swimming the waves of california, and trying to save surfers whenever he could. he was a king to the end, as aspen knew when to leave you with the least possible grief, amazing story nina..... see my blog www.herminnie.blogspot.com they left this earth about the same time, and i hope they meet in dog heaven. much love to you and your wounded heart.....your story made me cry all over again...

gigi

I have been so touched by your eloquent words about Aspen and your beautiful photos of him throughout your blog.

heather

through joy and sorrow,
through loss and hope,
through self-doubt and pride,
through solitude and companionship,
the only way is through
in this one wild life.
my love to you. xOxOxO

Susan

Dear Nina,

Your post brought tears to my eyes today. I know the grief of losing a beloved dog who was such a part of my family. We had the painful decision to have to have him "put to sleep", but both my mom and I were there with him. The vet was very kind. I am actually tearing up right now just typing this and remembering that terrible day, even when it has been pver seven years ago. He brought such joy to our life for those seven years and I wouldn't have traded it for anything. He belonged to my grandmother and we took him when she passed. It does get easier. Take care and know that I have been thinking about you a lot these last few days and wondering how you are doing.

I am so glad you had a nice time at Robin's graduation. Thank you for sharing such wonderful photos. It looks like it was a fabulous and memorable day, even though your heart was heavy at the time.

Take care and my thoughts are with you. You are special and I know that when the time is right, another precious English Springer Spaniel puppy will come into your life and it will be wonderful.

Lisa

Oh my God!!! Such a sweet photo of you and Aspen!!! And such sweet photos of you in your lovely peacock blue blouse and necklace to commemorate the occasion of your son's graduation. Your sons are gorgeous! And you are BEAUTIFUL!!! And that proud look on your face.... It must have been a wonderful day!!!!!

I've only known Aspen from his photos and what you have passed on to us with your words... And I LOVED him for all the love you shared with us! I am so sorry Nina.

From elation to desparation.... Miss Nina, I love you so!!!!

Jennifer White

Dear Nina... We've never met. I only know you through my dear friends Misty and Kathy/Bill Malkasian. I am so deeply sorry for the loss of Aspen. I am crying as I type this since it brings back memories of two loves of my life, Bailey and Chelsea....two cats that lived longer then I could possibly have imagined, 18 and 21. I could never imagine my life without them but now have Mischa who is only 4 years old. Our pets are an extension of us..I've always felt that since the very first dog I had as a child. I often wonder why I continue to put myself through the pain of having another and ultimately losing another, but the joy that these friends bring me throughout their lives is just too much.

Aspen is beautiful and will still be with you...I hope you find peace in your memories and dreams of your lives together.


lee w.

What a wonderful post- eloquent, flowing like cool water. Love for and from our animals is such an amazing thing. I love that you snapped so many pictures latlery- I've been doing the same thing with my old girl. She's 15, and saw me through a divorce, moving home, going to nursing school, moving out, re-marriage, and 2 kids. I shudder at the thought of losing her... so I kiss her a lot! Hugs to you.

rusted wings

you did the right thing mama...
all of our times (incl.aspen's) are in His hands...and there's a perfect time and season for everything under heaven.
may this month ahead bring you fresh, deep breaths and newness of life, and perspective, and deep joy and peace
in believing....
beloved blessings,
abigail

Erin Gergen Halls

today is the 3 month mark of my dad's passing.
it has been an eternity...
and like yesterday.
exactly 2 weeks before he died we had to make the decision to put our 12yr. old dog to sleep.
i taste the saddness it is so thick in me.

but because you wrote me in a recent email,
"i think you of all people know how to wrap your arms around the pain and work through it, growing in the process"
i do not worry about you.

but i am thinking of you,
and wishing i was there to smooth your hair,
and fix you tea.
i wish we could sit on your deck and talk about aspen, and fritz, and my dad...
or not talk at all.

i think aspen made the wise decision.
he was dapper with his new cut,
and ready.
he spared you, as his final act of loyalty and love.
but i know, i know, i know...
and i am so sorry.

Denise S

Nina I have been checking back here so often to see if you had felt up to a new post.
The pictures of you and the boys were so good and you looked like I had pictured,wonderful.

The inlaws are thoughtless creatures. You knew this many,many years ago.

Aspen will come to you in your dreams and he will be fine,just be ready my friend.
Time it will take time to not see him everywhere and get up to let him outside.It does get easier trust me.

luanne

dear nina,
thank you for telling this story, painful as it must be for you to recall. yet when we lose a loved one, it seems we must repeatedly re-examine that experience, minute by minute, second by second, just trying to comprehend and absorb it. all the while, wishing we could make it turn out differently.

some years ago when we cared for my dear mother-in-law as she faced her death, we learned from hospice writers that often our loved ones take that unattended moment to make their exit; is it easier for them, or kinder for us? no one knows.

but undoubtedly aspen sees you now from the magical place that comes next after this world, and he watches over you with enormous love and gratitude for his rich and happy life. he will be with you always, even as he opens your heart to the possibility of a new friend, someday...

it's good that you have the memories of a lovely weekend with your beautiful boys to help console you. with more tears & best wishes, luanne

Jeannie

You have experienced the unconditional love that is so dear and special. Know that you and Aspen have been in my heart and mind this week. Wishing you safe travels and the healing sound of the tides and friends.

Tina in McLeansville

"the only way is through"...indeed. like the firing of a beautiful vessel. difficult, yes, but necessary in order to see the beauty on the other side. you do know you'll have to repeat those words to me one day soon, don't you? breathe deeply you say..i do try so. i wonder every day how it is possible to be so sad and weep one moment, and be smiling the next. i know how hard it is to be strong....and you, dear friend, are doing a fine job....travel safely....

wendy

this pain, i know too well. more tears tonight for your loss...i feel your sorrow. i really do.

oh my heart.
xo

diane cook

Nina, your story this evening brings a sorrow deep inside my chest. And, at the same time a great joy for the love you pour out for your dear sons. God bless you & know you are loved by us all so very much.
xoxo

Teresa aka Tess

Dear, Dear Nina, How can I express to you with words the roller coaster of emotions I feel each and everytime I read your blog. You have become a friend, a mentor of sorts, a sister through this wonderful thing called the internet. Aspen, sweet aspen, the unconditional love you say you felt from him I fear is available only from the animals chosen by us (or by them) to be with us. We woke one morning to find Pinky, inherited after my mother-in-laws passing, sleeping deeply in the middle of the living room floor. I so feared this would be the case with you. I know this is hard but I am so glad Aspen knew you were coming home, you were safe and it was time to go. I hear Pinky's little cough now and then. And then there is the day hubby came to my work to tell me he had held our cat, Circle, while she was injected. We had raised her from a kitten for 16 years. She was suffering, kidney failure. He did this alone without me... to protect me. I cried, I was angry. I am glad you will be busy now, too busy to sit and hurt alone. You will have plenty of that time but for now... now Aspen leaves you to the wonderful adventures lying ahead of you this next month. And Aspen, he's running in the fields, chasing the birds, watching for your return. He's always with you, in your heart. But then, you already knew that.

sabrina

dearest,as i said before,i am so sorry for your loss. aspen was much loved by you and your friends and readers.
enjoy your time on the coast,i'm sure it will be very healing. i am a bit sad to think that you will be just a couple of hours away from where i live,but someday in the future i will see you again and japanese food will be eaten!

roZanne

dear nina~i've been away from home a couple days and just learned that beloved aspen is gone from you..i've had many pets and it is always devastating to lose one..especially one that has been so dear to your heart for so long, my sincere sympathies are with you, i know the loss of a "beloved doggie family member"..you and your sons look wonderfully happy together~~may blessings, tender healing and peace come to your heart, zanne xxxxxoooooo

susan greene

Oh once again I am weeping. I will never forget many years ago my parents left me their beloved Missy. A wonderful black carin terrier that I loved to take care when they traveled. At that time I had 2 white west highland terriers. I called the 3 dogs my reverse oreo. Missy did have cancer. Mom and Dad had been gone 24 hours when I had to call them to ask permission to put Missy to sleep ( she had taken a turn for the worst and was in a great deal of pain). I swear in the wee hours the night before when I went searching for Missy that I saw the shadow of an angel on our front porch....I stopped and stared. I knew she was ready and Missy chose to leave this earth once my Mom and Dad were gone. I will save my remarks for your heartless ex in-laws for another time.

Jennifer Valentine

Dearest Nina,

I am so, so sorry to hear about Aspen. I fear that my card will not get to you before you leave...I wanted to send something more personal than just typed words, but I guess these typed words will have to do. I am holding you in light and in love and I pray that time will heal your broken heart.
...and might I say you look absolutely lovely in blue, with the light of a mother's pride in your eyes.
xo

Laurie Giberson (flickr "morningk")

Hi Nina. My mom had a Siberian Husky ("Aragorn the Strider," aka "Strider") whom she loved dearly. She had more pics of Strider in her wallet than of us 3 kids, I kid you not! After Strider passed on, which was several years after we 3 kids had left the nest, her friend sent her this poem. Have you seen it? I hope you and your readers will enjoy it. I believe my mom has even prepared instructions that when some day she passes, we are to take her ashes and Strider's and sprinkle them into the canyon together. She loved him so.
With love, --Laurie G.

The following poem, The Rainbow Bridge, is inspired by Norse Legend:

By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,
Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
Where the friends of man and woman do run,
When their time on earth is over and done.

For here, between this world and the next,
Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.
On this golden land, they wait and they play,
Till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.

No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,
For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.
Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,
Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.

They romp through the grass, without even a care,
Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.
All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,
Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.

For just at that instant, their eyes have met;
Together again, both person and pet.
So they run to each other, these friends from long past,
The time of their parting is over at last.

The sadness they felt while they were apart,
Has turned into joy once more in each heart.
They embrace with a love that will last forever,
And then, side-by-side, they cross over. together.

Katie

Can I say, I love you? Your soul is just...I understand, Nina, I truly do. It isn't a small thing when a dog loves us. It is perhaps the truest form of love...without ANY condition...And how wonderful that you have that other kind of love, for your boys. The kind that springs fourth out of your heart like a well.
What a wise old dog you have. Yes, he lingers with you still, until you are ready to really let him go.

Seth

I know exactly what you mean about the love from a dog being so different. And clearly Aspen loved (and continues to love) you! As you say...the only way is through.

Cindy O'Leary

Oh Nina, that first photo of you and Aspen just made me gasp--so so precious. And then the tears started, as I also know the love of that one special dog--and the love and pride that a mother feels for her sons. Oh, aren't we blessed to have known such love in our lives? And I'm blessed to have you in my life, dear one. Safe travels. hugs and love, cindy

Alice

Wow! I just ran across your blog ~ and first of all, your tribute to Aspen was quite moving ~ as many have, I, too, have lost my 4-legged pal ~ you have my heartfelt sympathy. And then I continued reading about the graduation and the choosing of the dress, etc. I've so been there! It made me laugh because we all think the same way ~ and who really cares what we wear but us!! You write beautifully and I definitely will stop by again ~ I see by reading your letters along the side and your comments from readers that you are an inspiration to many ~ it's been a pleasure!
Alice

wanda miller

...all the things and more that everyone has written. except...i printed this beautiful piece out for my friend janet, who has been driving home during lunch, from work,to check on her "abby" gold lab..to feed, give pain meds and talk to her as she fades indefinitely. janet knows how much we all care and words can't truly express that, but your post will speak volumes to her heart of hearts as it has to all the rest of us. xo wanda

Renate

I'm weeping again ... it is true, the love of an animal is true and unconditional. Anyone that thinks otherwise has never seen that eloquent look in their eyes.
I am feeling with you, and I am so glad the celebration with your son was full of happiness. Cherish the good memories.
Hugs.

Farmlady

Dear Nina,
I lost my Moke boy in March and the pain in my heart is still so overwhelming I can hardly talk about him.
I know that Moke and Aspen will be waiting for us until we get wherever we're going. They will be there; healthy and wagging their tails. I have to believe this.
I hear him by my bed at night,I cry when I think about him and I can still smell his fur...

I'm so sorry.

Suzanne Popalardo

Dear Nina,
Your beautiful words and creations bring me much joy when I visit your blog. My heart goes out to you now, knowing exactly how you're feeling. I have been there too many times. Keep the good memories close to your heart, as I know you will. Aspen will always be with you.

Suzanne

Deb Coburn

Dear Nina, thank you for so unselfishly sharing Aspen with us through the years. Your love for him is so obvious from the loving photos and the stories of the adventures y'all had. Through those stories and photos, I felt like I actually knew him, too. I experienced the same kind of anguish last October when I lost my little companion, Indigo. I took a ton of photos of him throughout his life, but when his health started to fail, I started taking even more and I will be forever grateful that I have those precious remembrances of the sweetest, most attentive little fellow I have ever known. My heart is with you now; I wish I could do something, anything to take away your sadness and sorrow. Just know that you have a friend in Alabama who's thinking about you.

sue

Nina, thank you for sharing in your beautiful post....I don't know what to say that hasn't already been said in the other comments, but I hope you take comfort that so many people care for you dearly. You are in our thoughts sweet lady. xo

Hol


At the thought of Aspen's passing, I still can't stop my tears. I plunged deeply in your loss. Aspen,OX! Nina, OX! Aspen, sweet life, blessings.....
Is there a shelter in your area that we could make a donation in Aspen's name? I would be so happy to do so, perhaps others also.
For such a fine Man, Companion, and Perfect Partner,I would love to help his Sprit Live On!
My Love to You, OXOX, Hol

Mike

My daughter, HHnB emailed me a link to your blog.
Oh my dear, I am so much with you, having experienced such loss recently (see: http://little-corner-of-the-earth.blogspot.com/2009/05/only-dog.html )

I am so sorry that you were unable to be with Aspen when he died.

The grief will, of course, pass. But the empty spaces around the house and "seeing" him out of the corner of your eye will endure for a long time.

I hold your hand across the blogsphere.

Katie

oh nina you really make me cry.

peggy mcdevitt

Thank you for sharing your pain and your happiness. Life sure kicks us in the butt a lot but thankfully there are good things that happen too so we can rebalance ourselves. Try to enjoy your teaching trips and time with your friends, new and old. Your in my thoughts and prayers. Peggy

Barbara

I haven't known what to say because the depth of these last two posts is heartbreaking. Several years ago our beloved Boxer, Oscar, developed cancer so suddenly and so devastatingly, while my husband was out of town, and I had ... I felt I couldn't make any other choice than to have him put down. He had been so sweet and kind and loyal and loving, and he was trying so hard to take care of us as he always had, but he just couldn't. I wanted it to spare him whatever pain I could. Maybe Aspen and Oscar will meet up up there and hang out:) ... Congratulations on your beautiful sons! Best of luck as you teach, spreading your art as you spread your words on the wind.

Olga

My dearest Nina, Even thou I am so far from you, my heart is right next to yours.
I love you! xoxo Olga, MIA

Julie Q

Nina,
I am a lurkey turkey, but your post today was touching in the great joys of the graduation and the loss of such a special friend. I am sure that Aspen chose his time to go, and that he wanted somewhere safe and knew that you would reach him soon after. What a great life you gave him, full of love and wonderful kindness.

Good luck on your trips, and I look forward to continue reading your blog.

Julie and poppy Q
New Zealand

Sandra L.

Dear Nina, We have not met, but I wanted to convey my sorrow at your loss. Our animal friends are so very important. I like to believe they are across the Rainbow Bridge, with St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

Bless you--wishing you a peaceful day--

Sandra Ludwig

Mary Beth

Nina, this just tears my heart. I am sorry to be so far behind and just now hearing about the loss of Aspen. I absolutely adored seeing his pictures on your blog and I know he had the best life that any dog could have ever conjured. We lost our companion Merlyn one week ago today. It still hurts so much I absolutely know what you are going through. And I thank Dog that you are busy with lots of friends and art adventures. xoxox

misty

the photos of aspen make me feel so sad and make me smile at the same time, such a strange feeling. such a sweetheart!
i love reading all of your comments here, so, so many people drawn to you and your beautiful open heart.
and the photos of your family are so special, you look beautiful.
xoxooxox

miz Carla

My deepest sympathies Miz Nina. Your Aspen was a beautiful boy and I'm sure you are right--he wanted to spare your feelings and leave this world with the dignity of a true southern gentleman.

xoxs

Anne

Nina I love that first photo of you and Aspen, his eyes say so much he seems wise and playful at the same time.
Aspen had a wonderful life, and you made the right choice taking him to the vet. If he had been uncomfortable he would have been able to get something to take care of the pain. Please don't second guess yourself, we all make decisions based on what information we have at the time.
I am on my second generation of three dogs, I feel like they are not only companions but they are a witness to certain times of our life.
Let yourself miss him, but also remember the times you shared and smile too.

Sue

Don't you look beautiful? That blue is so you, and don't your boys look equally wonderful? Thank you for letting us know about Aspen's passing, it's so very personal but we all crave an ending to the story. I'm sure you are right about him choosing when to go.
What a busy schedule you have planned over the next month, just think of all those wonderful souls you will meet who will only benefit from being with you.
Wish I was one of them!!
Seeing the photo's of the meadow reminds me of my promise to find you a similar moonlit field one day..... here's hoping.
Safe travelling 'far away friend'.
Laugh, cry, be joyous, be sad, be alive.
Best love
Sweet Sue xoxoxox

Julie Fredericksen

Dear, Dear Nina

You are such a wonderful writer. You were able to put into words what I felt after my dear Penny, a golden retriever, died on Jan. 6. We have had other such wonderful dogs in our family and were thankful that they stayed so long with us: Beau, the English Setter, lived to be 14 1/2; Brandy, the German Shorthaired Pointer, was 14; and Lady, the cocker spaniel, was 16 1/2. With each of these three, they had to be put to sleep, and either Dan or I were there at their last moments. Penny, however, was only 6. She was perfectly healthy and died instantly of a heart condition. It doesn't matter that you were not there when he left this world - Aspen knew he was in your heart at all times.

I am posting a link to this post on my blog. I hope you don't mind. You put into words what so many of us dog lovers feel.

Hugs, Julie Fredericksen, Bismarck, ND

Meri Arnett-Kremian

My big orange tabby Peaches had cancer throughout his sinuses and his lungs. It eventually got hard for him to breathe, so I had to make the decision to euthanize him. He died in my arms with his eyes open. I suspect that Peaches and Aspen kept their eyes open because they'd loved there lives with us and wanted to see what the next great adventure held for them. I'm so, so sorry for your loss.

Mary

"running, watercolored grief that turns everything a different shade in life" - what an incredible observation. It's so easy to love a dog, and so hard to lose one.

Denise Morrison

Thinking of you.

Star

Such a tender post, Nina. I love how providence connects the dots in such a way that it allows for our unique needs--an enjoyable graduation experience, Aspen's perfect timing for both you and your parents, time away from Aspen's domain to grieve your loss.

Wishing you safe travels and many healing moments as you journey through the coming month.

JoDee Jetton

Dearest Nina,
Thanks for sharing your sage woman self with us once again - I feel so proud to know you - and have been thinking of you so much- life is just so sweet and messy- glad you are tying on your travelling shoes- best wishes on your journey and do good- you have no idea how much you enrich the lives of your readers and students by sharing your own - many blessings on you as you fly along
love JoDee

Joy

Oh Nina what a beautiful tribute & what a lovely photo of you & Aspen, thanks for sharing. The closeness you shared, he IS there with you, don't doubt it. And such a thoughtful baby, sparing you any more pain. Having to make the decision to put a beloved pet down is surely one of the hardest things to do - we had to do it twice in the space of 6 days when it was time to let our 18-year-old kitties go.
And thanks for sharing the graduation as well; what a gorgeous family you are! I see you too have in-laws who are best ignored; now the mother-in-law has passed, I do get on better with my father-in-law but she made it pretty clear she minded that her grandsons aren't 100% white!! You have to laugh at the idiocy of some people, you really do!
Anyway, safe journey & enjoy your teaching trips, looking forward to hearing all about it when you're home again.
Take care, precious one.
Joy x

red tin heart

Dear Nina, I am crying as I read your post. My heart goes out to you. I have pups that I have had for a while and losing them would be so hard. I have had my Coco for 14 years. She was John and my dog. She is my constant companion.
Sending you love my friend, Nita

P.s if you need anything do not heisitate to e-mail me.

katie

such a beautiful post, a tribute to the love you two shared. and you write with such grace during this time, a heartfulness that shines through your sorrow.

you know i have my own precious memories of aspen and both of you together (the cheese tug-of war?!) and they will be tucked in my heart always. xo

amy faldet

I have found this place at such a real time I see. Every place you experience, and every choice you must make has its wondrous side. You are in that place.
I look forward to getting to know you and see what you see. Blessings and light from Amy

Michelle

Nina, I read your blog tonight and cried. Aspen was so much a part of you and you a part of him. You were both so blessed to have each other, your quiet moments, the unconditional love and companionship.

I have three dogs - each of them sit in a different place in my heart and pull different strings.. but they are my friends. You are grieving for your friend but he will never be far from you. You were his Universe.

Michelle

annie

oh sweetie...oh sweetie...sending love and heartfelt mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm's your way.

Jann Sage

Dear Nina, I just saw your sad news today about losing your sweet Aspen. My heart goes out to you. I lost my beautiful Charlie dog and still miss him, still haven't really recovered and it's been nearly 10 years now. It's the purest love you can experience. There will be another hole in your heart but I'm told it's supposed to work that way. Between kids, and beloved pets and significant others, we acquire lots of holes. I think you absolutely did the right thing in leaving him, because at least you know he had the very best care right up until the end. I know you will be brave and strong because that's who you are, but oh I do feel your pain. Know that I and all the others you have taught are all sending you love and the strength to go on. Be very kind to yourself. --Jann Sage

Vickie

Oh Nin...it has been so long since life-altering events nearly tore me apart emotionally. I have suffered, recovered, suffered and recovered time and again these past 9 months. But something today told me to come check your blog. I am heart-broken to hear of Aspen. I share in your grief and sorrow. I have experienced the loss of beloved pets myself...I thought at one point in the past couple months I would have to have Smokey put to sleep, and it frightened me so. But he is doing better and I am grateful. All my love...
Vickie

kiki

Oh, I am so so sorry for your loss.

anna maria

I've returned to your blog several times in the past few days, always with trepidation, because of the little jolt it gave me every time I saw that beautiful soft photo of Aspen and the poet's words.

I can imagine very well what you are going through. When my dog died I remember having the same feeling you do that he would be coming down the hall or around the corner any minute. I was also surprised at how eerily silent the house was for days.

No matter what we do during those last few days or hours our four-legged companions are with us, we always somehow doubt if it was the right thing. Try not to. The two of you had many wonderful years together. Thousands of beautiful hours, during which you enjoyed each other's love and friendship.

All the best.

Roberta Philbrick

Oh Nina...this is a lovely post...I'm trying not to cry as I write. My son also graduated from NCSU at Raleigh over Mother's Day weekend...and soon will be wed on June 20th...as I've mentioned in previous comments. But enough about me...I'm thinking of you right now...and your angst over not being with Aspen when he passed...I can't help but feel that your wonderful "friend" knew you couldn't handle the overwhelming pain of his passing so he went on ahead to give you some relief from an already emotional weekend...bless his true spirit. The next "aha" moment I had with your post was reading about ASILOMAR...this is the place where Dr.Wayne Dyer filmed his movie "Ambition to Meaning"...it's a wonderful movie produced by Hay House Inc. and if you ever get a chance to watch it...please do so...it's lovely. In it Dr. Dyer tells a story about purpose and it reminds me of you and Aspen..."the Earth knows that the SUN is going to be there every day...and never does the SUN ask the Earth...what are you going to do for me?"...the SUN knows it's purpose in life just like Aspen knew his...bless you in your travels. Fondly, Roberta

carol

i'm so sorry nina. i've been away at the lake...never have been able to get internet connection until tonight. i know you will miss your aspen. me too. thinking of you.

Fishstikks

Thank you so much for sharing your life with Aspen with all of us. I feel as if I have also just lost my dearest friend along with you. They are such a joy to have around and to try and fill that void when they are gone is difficult at best.

Again, thank you for sharing dear sweet Aspen with us...

jennifer

ohhhh my dear....I cry again.

Thank you for giving him to us through your blog so we could love him too. Thank you for giving us your radiant beautiful light that we may love you, too. I hope one day I can do justice to my boys as you have done with yours. They are so precious.

Safe travels to you and I will see you soon. I simply cannot wait...xox

Carole

Oh Nina...My heart hurts for you, and I sit here in tears. I've had another lapse in visiting your blog and had no idea about Aspen. I am so very sorry.

I do know your pain at losing a beloved animal friend.

I am so sorry that you weren't with him, but he did know you loved him.

Ann

Here are more of Mary Oliver's words that make me think of you:
"My work is loving the world."
That seems to be what your blog is all about.

Elaina

We are saying goodbye to Ben (our Golden) this Monday.
We try to smile and say, he's due in Heaven for an upgrade:
No more pain, no more tumor, no more bleeding. Just easy breathing, energy to scamper about like the pup he's always been inside, maybe a pair of wings if he wants them... :)
A well-meaning friend (aren't they always) asked today if it might have been easier and wiser if we had treated him "more like a pet and less like a person",
to which I replied, "wiser to keep our hearts guarded from all the love he had to give? Wiser to have carefully rationed the love we gave him?"
Never, never. He gave us all his sweetness, and we will gladly, gratefully pay the small price of the bittersweetness of missing him.
Thank you for your beautiful words about your friend Aspen. My heart and prayers go out to you during this difficult time.

Imelda

My heart goes out to you in your loss. I know the love of a dog, and I know what it is to say goodbye to that beloved dog. Oh, I wish you healing and loving hearts and hands surrounding you.

Sue Berry

So, so sorry about Aspen. It's 14 years since my own died and it's still as raw as ever. It's true, they never leave us ...

Sue x

Tina Gimore

I just want to hug you so much, i read your blog, i went away did some ironing and cried, i read it again, did some cleaning around and cried, then i settled to some artwork, but still cried!!!

Nina you are an amazing person, and i love you dearly across the blogsphere!
xxxxxx

martha brown

Oh, Nina -- I am so sorry. I am sending very big cyber hugs to you. xox, ~martha

Brenda Bliss

Oh Nina-
I am just catching up on my blogs-and I am so sorry-----------------my heart is hurting--I can't imagine how your heart feels. Oh Aspen--such a good friend...Thank You Nina for sharing him---we will all miss him ......
Safe travels...
Love you,
Brenda Bliss

Holly - UK

Oh nina. always remember that aspen had such a GREAT life!! and you were the best owner ever!! He had 14 wonderful years with you, so remind yourself of that if ever you feel sad. He'll be up there waiting for you im sure of that x

Caz

Nina,

I love the pics of you at your sons graduation, you look so happy & proud. I know that you feel a little bittersweet right now but being away from home for the next month could be just what you need, perhaps you will not feel his loss so acutely.
And I believe Aspen will be around when you need him x

Eileen @ Star's Fault

Dear Nina ~ The picture of you and your dear Aspen, head together, is somehow so perfect. My Star does this, and in those moments, her silver head against mine, the connections between us is so strong, we speak without words "I love you".

But before Star there was Punkin, silly name, but beloved soul. She lived for 20 years, and was my shadow, mamma's kitty, my dear, sweet girl. It was months after she passed that Star came into my life, and precious as Star is now, she did not know me, did not yet love me... It was then that I realized that I had lost more than just a dear friend in Punkin, but that I had lost the quality of 20 years together, the depth and sweetness of a long, full, relationship... and the tears came all over again. I remembered the pure happy she brought into my days and how she made my life finer, richer, less broken, more whole, because of her small, insignificant self.

Prayers ~ Eileen@Star'sFault

Suzanne Sonnel

Nina I dropped by to see how you are doing - grief comes in fits and starts, sometimes in huge waves, sometimes in a shadow of a memory it often catches you off guard and takes your breath away....but the sorrow goes hand in hand with the incredible joy of having had the priviledge of being so well loved by Aspen. You looked so beautiful in your blue dress and happy and so so proud...you know it's not the clothes we wear that our children see but the love for them that we wear....Be well Suzanne

samm

so many memories brought back to the surface by your loss of such a fine, noble gentleman soul. we still cry for our dave the golden retriever but the tears have gradually become mingled with lovely memories. hold tight dear friend. i'm sure there's a reason the "dog/human" relationship is so strong.... both gary and i send as much strength and love to you that you need xoxo

Maria Cook

I just now read the sad news and I so grief for you. I am sitting here, tears streaming down my face.
Take comfort in knowing that he had a long and happy life and was well loved by you. That is the best comfort there is for you at this time. I know, having been through this several times. And I would do it again, and again, because there is nothing compared to the love of a dog, as Aspen proved to you.

Go online, there is bound to be a rescue Springer Spaniel society. Somewhere there is a little dog waiting for someone to love him the way Aspen was loved. Not identical, no dog or love is the same, just close enough to honor Aspen's memory and your love for him. God Bless!

natalya

oh my goodness.... i haven't been here for a while and i check in to find aspen gone... i am so sorry nina.... i feel your grief and mine comes back although it's been almost eight years since my precious first 'child' passed away... so sorry.....
but on the bright side congratulations - you are a wonderful mother to your wonderful boys!

erin

Saying I am sorry for your loss does not even come close to being enough. Aspen was a part of you and you were a part of him. There are no words to encompass that kind of loss. My dear dog, Rosie, left me 14 years after she came into my life. We were the two gals in a houseful of boys and she was my steadfast companion and friend. She saw me though a miserable divorce and the struggle I had to be a good single parent to my two boys. I still see her--just a glimpse now and then--as I come through my garden or my front door. I miss her wet nose and the way she flopped down at my feet or nudged my arm up so I would pet her. I find that her loss has become a part of me--a special part--a soft resting place where I go to remember when all around me is chaos and noise. I still cry--as I am right now--which is part of her legacy.

erin

a poem by ee cummings....

i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)
i am never without it (anywhere i go you go, my dear;
and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet)
i want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Compost Studios

I have buried two sets of parents and my sister, but grief was never so raw or wrenching as when I lost a beloved cat. I felt scoured by it--and ultimately cleansed in a way I never felt cleansed by the grief of my other losses.

Peace to you. Joy too. Thank you for sharing the beauty of your happiness and sorrow.

V-Grrrl

TC

So sorry for your loss. I have had and have many animals, my dog now is my heart dog. I hope you can enjoy your trip.
Your blog is what another blogger said she hoped hers would be, my sentiments too, simply beautiful in words and pictures.

Reva Solomon

Dear Nina - I hesitate to write to you - since you have had hundreds of notes - but must reach out to you with tears streaming down my face as I read your account of dear sweet Aspen - I won't make this long but want to send loving thoughts and prayers to you in this time of deep sorrow - I have two elderly cats who are in the throws of various stages of health and I can relate to your beautiful words and thoughts - although Aspen can no longer lay at your feet - I believe he is with you - take good care and know that many of us are with you as you struggle and grieve - hugs - reva (los angeles)
CreativeRebelGal.blogspot.com
ScribeWizards.com

Adrienne Berry

hugs

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