Yesterday was the last day for Tucker, the landlord's ailing lab mix. He was an old guy, riddled with tumors and arthritis. But a big-hearted sweetie, as most old dogs are. He always barked at Peter, but wagged his tail when I came home. He waited wherever he lay in the yard for someone to come pet him, though. He wasn't about to move around more than he had to, even six months ago when I met him.

One of his many inoperable tumors finally got in the way of his daily functioning, starting Monday. At seven in the evening last night, Peter and I helped hoist his near 100 lb bulk into Norm and Evelyn's old van, so they could drive him to the Vet to "go night-night" as Norm euphemized earlier that day.

I was sad for Tucker, and sad for his owners, who have seen so much loss in the last few months. (Although sad themselves, they seemed to be taking it in stride, as many of the WWII generation do.) Last Saturday, Evelyn told me that they had been to eight funerals in the last three weeks. Her sister died in January, and their Aunt Madeline passed away at 100-and-three-months just after I moved in. (She was living in the downstairs apartment, and I was there when they took her away - with her second broken hip - in the ambulance for the last time just before Christmas.)

My paternal grandmother had to move out of her home of nearly forty years last month, and into an assisted living facility near my parents. She has attended increasing numbers of funerals herself, as her contemporaries’ memories and independence give way a little more with each passing month. It will be decades before my generation is faced with the same dilemma, but I wonder how much the current trend of generational segregation is going to affect how gracefully we cope. I hope I can breach those walls a little and learn from my elders now, listening to their stories (however many times in a row) and advice, and do what little I can to help them through their own transition - even if it means helping lift a stinky greasy old Labrador up for his final ride in the car.



Peter and I have been upending every poetry book we can lay hands on trying to find a bit to be read at the wedding. We are trying to add something of ourselves into this ordeal, even though most of it has been out of our control. Nothing came of perusing the 'appropriate' anthologies, most of which were worthless. Even if we did find something one of us liked, the other wasn't so keen on it. And so it went.

The problem with poetry (and with well written, thoughtful music ... dylan and van zandt, not aiken and jessica ... hence our inability to find a song to 'first dance' to) is that it is attempting an accurate reflection of life. And in life, as we all know by now, there is always an unmistakable thread of darkness through the most joyful bits. The most beautiful poems we found wound their way around grief and loss. The ones that left this out were hollow and full of pastels. We know what we are embarking on is joyful. And hard. But we don't want to dump cold water on the people who come to celebrate with us.

Enter the venerable Gary Snyder, to the rescue. (I was introduced to him indirectly, while reading Kerouac's Dharma Bums two summers ago.)We went all the way through Turtle Island to no avail, but picked up No Nature this evening at B&N. Thank God for the zen inspired beat poets, trekking through the Sierras with their wool pants and ruck-sacks and scribbled-over notebooks. We read Off The Trail and both knew instantly that it was exactly what we were looking for. Thanks, Gary.

We still wanted *some* kind of William Carlos Williams, as I think his poetry is beautiful and he was Peter's favorite for a long time. So we are adding his three-liner on marriage to the back of the order of service.

:::: Post Script ::::

I saw Anne Lamott's name on the AWAD mailing a few days ago and I wanted to give her a shout out for making it into Anu's Ending Quote.

You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.
-Anne Lamott (1954- )



Yesterday I slept in, and dreamed about being married. I woke, cleaned the kitchen and made coffee, listened to Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me (my favorite weekend NPR installation.) It was warm, and Nyssa sunbathed on the picnic table in the yard. I joined her outside, and talked to my landlords about the weather, their aging lab, the plants that the late tenent of my unit planted, the plethora of funerals and viewings they have attended this month, the death of a sister, my dog's strange sun-worshiping habits, coats. I got my oil changed at a shady garage in another town, for $20. While waiting, I walked Nyssa over to Petsmart to look at the puppies and cats up for adoption. We saw a boxer puppy the size of a neckpillow and were barked at by a neurotic scottie dog. Nyssa was hissed at by an overweight tabby surrendered by unwell owners, themselves surrendered to a nursing home. On the walk back to the shady garage, I bought cheap closeout bookshelves. We drove to the dog park and Nyssa sat in the sun watching the other dogs play instead of running around herself. We left, went by the grocery store for milk and a fly swatter. I remembered to buy brown sugar. At home, I organized the piles of books and papers and mail that had accumulated and turned the living room back into a livable space. I dusted. Peter and I went to pick up a free ice-cream cake from Dairy Queen. Then we went to Borders to look for an appropriate poem to be read at the wedding.

Yesterday was the first day in months that my stomach hasn't been tied up in knots, my blood pressure hasn't been pounding in my head, my body hasn't been tense with endless lists scrolling behind my eyes, that I havn't spent on the phone with my mother negotiating details and schedules, that I havn't had to dope myself up on caffine and comfort food to get through. It was a day like days are supposed to be. It was a day to get a glimpse of hope, before this last desperate sprint through chaos.

Today, I woke up and realized that in two weeks I will wake up married. In two weeks, I will start having more days like yesterday. In two weeks there will be nothing to plan, no reason to be on the phone 3 hours a day, no pages of lists and paranoia of things forgotten. The balance will tip towards sunlight, equinox will pass, summer will be on her merry way, Peter and I will begin on ours.