Tonight, I was standing in the kitchen of a stranger’s house out in Orient, talking to Toby’s sister-in-law, Tina. (Tina and her husband, Sam, and their two little girls are staying in this stranger’s house for the night, and Toby’s staying with me, and so we all got together for one of Sam’s gourmet dinners). Tina’s dog, Joe, a huge young mutt with the body of a shepherd/mastiff and the head of a lab, came into the kitchen and lay down at my feet. I hadn’t noticed this, but Tina did, and said, “Boy, Joe really likes you,” and I looked down and there he was, snuggled in. I said, “Oh! He must know that my dog just died,” and I looked at Tina for just a moment and she started to cry—big, fat tears rolling down her cheeks from under her glasses.
I was amazed. That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling for weeks and weeks—like every moment is unbearable. And yet, more or less, I’ve been living through each moment, one by one, only because I have no other choice. Dolly died on August 31st. Scout died on October 17th. Julia broke up with me on October 26th. Scooby died on November 11th. Apart from Maud, who lives in LA, and Dave, Julia’s cat, who’s dying, most likely, too, that’s my entire family—whoosh! in one giant, horrible, heartbreaking, unbearable, killing wave. I did not say any of this to Tina, and yet, Joe still at my feet, she put her arms around me and cried.