Life without Sam

One year ago we were getting settled in Cholula. My two biggest anxieties had nothing to do with living in Mexico – they were that my grandpa would pass away while I was gone, or that Samson would.

They lived through the winter and on into spring. Grandpa grew increasingly dissatisfied with his quality of life on dialysis and at several points talked about going off of it, but soldiered on. Samson continued to lose muscle and fur, but still trotted along for his morning walks. When we got back to Ohio in May, I had the luxury of spending most of the summer with them.

And then they both passed away. First Grandpa, just a couple weeks shy of his 93rd birthday. And then, a few weeks later, Samson.

Grandpa eventually got to the point where it didn’t make sense to continue dialysis. He had made peace with the idea, and he’d talked about it long enough that we’d made some peace with it too. I will forever appreciate the honesty with which he talked about what it’s like to live to 92. He was buried in the church cemetary on the most beautiful midsummer day.

About a week after Grandpa’s funeral we made the trek back to Boston and moved into the first floor of an old Victorian. Samson came too. One week later we let him outside late at night and he tumbled in the dark and rolled down the slope of the front lawn. Without any muscle he couldn’t regain his footing, and he fell off a ledge down to the pavement.

It’s hard to write this without crying.

The day of his fall he got up and hobbled into the kitchen, so I hoped that he was just stiff and with time he’d recover. But he never did. Over the next two days he lost more and more mobility until he couldn’t get up. The vet said he’d likely injured his spine, and it wasn’t something that could be fixed. I remember thinking that I’d always assumed Sam would lose interest in food, and that would be my sign that he was ready to go. But there he was lying immobile in his bed, willing the vet to return to the treat jar on her counter.

The night before he fell Samson asked to sleep in bed with us. He hadn’t done that in years. It seems crazy to suggest it, because after all it was an accident…the fall…but Read and I couldn’t shake the feeling that somehow he knew something.

When he took his last little raggedly breath, a long, low, sad wail came out of me. My baby dog. My once in a lifetime dog. I counted once and we’d been to 24 states together. Two cross-country moves. Something like ten apartments. He was my – and then ourconstant protector and companion.

So now we’re trying to figure out life without him. In some ways it’s easier – not having to be home at certain points or carry a baby while letting him outside – but still a sense of loss hangs over so many moments. I restarted my job and R. started writing his dissertation and the baby started daycare, so there’s been all kinds of new to keep us busy. But sometimes in the evening we walk to the neighborhood dog park just to watch them play and run around, and talk about how if Sam were there, he’d be sitting off to the side with us, watching the action and pondering the next chapter of his yet-unpublished-memoir.

In the mood for more Samson stories?
The story of how he found me
That time he jumped off the balcony
That time I got a letter about his threatening behavior
That time he returned to Hocking Hills


Snowed in for Nemo

We have a roommate for a couple of months. He’s great. His wife (my former coworker) moved and he’s just taking closing up shop in Boston before joining her in spring. She has snow-day-envy and asked for some pics of Nemo today. He texted her something along the lines of this…

I guess she was hoping for something more like this…

Storm Nemo

Storm Nemo

I used a 3-second exposure and ended up creating these kind of dream/ghost images. It’s supposed to keep on snowing through the night so we might wake up to a whole lot more of it.

Sam walked with us for a half block, then cut through the neighbors’ yards and sprinted home. He was waiting on the porch for us when we got back around. He’d much prefer spending snow day as shown below…


To the airport!

In about a half hour I’ll be driving to Boston Logan to pick up Read! Six weeks went pretty fast, all in all. My summary of the time away, for all those who asked, was “it was kinda fun to have the house to myself…until it wasn’t.”

I’ve almost finished my Read’s-Away project: the Plain & Simple Pullover made from reclaimed yard sale wool.

Plain & Simple Pullover progress

Trying on the sweater is disgustingly uncomfortable because we’re in the middle of a little July heat wave. The pets are sprawled all over the floors, nobody has any energy, and I refuse to make any meals that require heat. It’s time to give up and lug the window air conditioners up from the basement.


p.s. Thank you guys for your kind words about Samson’s failed flying lesson. I realized Monday that he’s missing an entire toenail, but a toenail is still a pretty cheap price for such a high fall. More than a few neighbors have stopped me to ask about him – it’s a really nice block we live on. The balcony window is definitely staying closed.