There is something about Autumn that stirs the soul. The comforts and easy pace of Summer give way to a bustle, a bit of a rush – back to school, back to work, back to routine. That is part of its poignancy, but there is something else… a preparation, a need to gather the forces and close the doors against the coming cold. Soups are hearty, made from harvest vegetables which need to be pulled before the first frost. Sweaters come on, toes get snuggled into warm companions under more blankets. Winter is coming, and we need to take care of each other.
Almost as a kind of reward for our diligence, Autumn lays out a feast. Brilliant colours, sharp and clear skies, crisp winds and a still-hot sunshine bely a coming truth: soon comes the small death of winter.
This morning, in that gorgeous sunshine and orange trees, my friends said goodbye to their little beagle, a pretty and lovingly gentle creature named Hope. I attended with my dear friend as she held Hope, who fell asleep peacefully in Mummy’s arms, and found a rest she hadn’t been able to find for weeks, suffering as she had with lung cancer. My friend sobbed as she told her littlest one what a good dog she was. I cried, too, and at home, bereft of his little companion, my friend’s husband cried and waited, relying on his wife’s strength to give him comfort.
There was beauty and dignity in Hope’s leaving, just as there were tears. She died peacefully on one of the most stunning days of the year, and what this day laid bare for me to witness was like Autumn itself. I saw an animal made purely of love leave this world in the most loving and gentle way. I saw my two friends’ love for each other, tested, tormented, but ultimately so strong that it held them both up as they wept together for their wee beagle.
I saw a bit of the veil lift on life itself: short, mundane, surprising and heartbreaking, and ultimately so beautiful, probably because of its fragility.
In the quiet following our sad duty, I was informed of the passing two days ago of my parents’ sweet golden, Bonnie. Knowing my stepmother, she gave Bonnie a beautiful day in the yard, a sweet farewell, and a significant piece of her own heart for the dog to take with her on her last journey.
This is for all dog lovers, cat lovers, in fact, all who love. We are so lucky. Godspeed, all you loved souls who wander off this Autumn. May the skies always be blue and the leaves be ever soft for you.