How Much Will Be Carved Away?

Dearest Rachel – Occasionally, I will spot something or other left behind by Chompers that I have yet to give away. Kris took a number of things to give to her daughter (I think it was; it’s been well over a week since she was last by) to use with her own dog, but hisContinue reading “How Much Will Be Carved Away?”

Going Buy-Buy

Dearest Rachel – I let the first of the month get past me, but I was otherwise occupied with a houseguest, after all. Indeed, it wasn’t until last Thursday that I realized I had missed my Monday appointment at the mechanics for your car. Oh well, we can try again later this week, I guess.Continue reading “Going Buy-Buy”

That Much Emptier

Dearest Rachel – So Kevin just left this morning, and will likely be driving through the entirety of the day, arriving home after sunset. It’s the nature of the trip, and the distance involved. He’s going home to an emptier house than ours, which is why I really shouldn’t be complaining like I am. ButContinue reading “That Much Emptier”

A Still, Dark Night

Dearest Rachel – I haven’t taken everything down, now that Chompers is with you. There is a lot to wash and pack up that belonged to him that we’ll never use again, and I’m in no mood to go through it all right away. But one thing that I did remove almost immediate is theContinue reading “A Still, Dark Night”

Awaiting the Verdict

Dearest Rachel – It’s seven a.m. Chompers wakes me up with whine; he’s back to his old schedule (after a fashion), and I pick him up, and take him out front. He pees the length of the sidewalk connecting the front stoop to the driveway, and I discover as I set him into his harnessContinue reading “Awaiting the Verdict”

Sirius Declining

Dearest Rachel – Lately, whenever I take Chompers out for his last pee of the night, I find myself looking up at the sky. Down Wilke Road, to the south, hangs one star that shines brighter than all the others: Sirius. The dog star. It’s the star that gives ‘the dog days of August’ theirContinue reading “Sirius Declining”

Sudden Drop

Dearest Rachel – Under circumstances that seemed less dire, I’d probably be soundtracking this letter with Citizen King’s “I’ve Seen Better Days,” because the bottom seems to have dropped out all of a sudden. But – since the bottom has seemed to have dropped out all of a sudden – I wonder if that wouldn’tContinue reading “Sudden Drop”

Rules Lawyering

Dearest Rachel – So yesterday, being Sunday, was our usual game night. Only, it was anything but usual. What with Kevin being up here for the week, this was an opportunity for the four of us who have been meeting online to get together in person for the first time since the pandemic – andContinue reading “Rules Lawyering”

What Am I Becoming?

Dearest Rachel – I don’t know how you did it, honey. And I don’t know how I’m going to be able to continue doing this. Or for how much longer. It may well be simply because this is a night when I need to wake up early; I’ve got to shower, change and be outContinue reading “What Am I Becoming?”

Morning Un-Routine

Dearest Rachel – The Army used to have a slogan about how “we do more before 9am than most people do all day.” Considering that I’m sitting in the veterinary parking lot, and it’s a quarter to nine, while I have to confess that while I’m not Army material, I’m at least getting started onContinue reading “Morning Un-Routine”

The Only Thing That’s Never Empty

Dearest Rachel – While I’d be more than willing to admit there are so many things I’d like to have back, I would settle for being able to hear your voice, and converse with you back-and-forth. I’ve mentioned not so long ago about how I wish I could compare notes about how you dealt withContinue reading “The Only Thing That’s Never Empty”

Spot Macbeth

Dearest Rachel – No, this does not refer to some Shakespearean take on Where’s Waldo, although the idea of Martin Handford drawing a crowd in the Globe Theatre into which the actor portraying the Scottish usurper is trying to blend while being pursued by Macduff and Malcolm makes for an interesting image. Considering Handford’s BritishContinue reading “Spot Macbeth”

Trying to Think at Three a.m.

Dearest Rachel – There are some questions in my life that I can no longer give a straight answer to. “How are you doing?” Well, do you just wanna exchange pleasantries, or would you like an actual answer? “Can I help you?” Wow, do you really mean that? “Do you always respond to a questionContinue reading “Trying to Think at Three a.m.”

Resisting Resuming Responsibilities

Dearest Rachel – So I open my eyes this morning, and look at the alarm clock: it’s a quarter to seven. And I have to admit, I do not want to get up just yet. I won’t go so far as to say it’s been a grueling weekend, but I’ll allow that it wasn’t exactlyContinue reading “Resisting Resuming Responsibilities”

Limpiar

Dearest Rachel – You’d probably be able to confirm with me as to the French, but I do know that in Spanish, the verb ‘to clean’ is ‘limpiar.’ Which, while having absolutely no connection to our word ‘limp’ (Since that comes down to us from the German through Old and Middle English), is strangely appropriateContinue reading “Limpiar”

Unsatisfying Vengeance

Dearest Rachel – It wasn’t all that long ago (as recently as the wee hours of Sunday morning, in fact) that I would take Chompers out at what I considered to be late at night – which is, as you know, anytime after 10:30 – and prepare him for bed, with all the usual bedtimeContinue reading “Unsatisfying Vengeance”

Not Feeling It

Dearest Rachel – As characters in our own dramas (or, more likely, sitcoms – has it ever occurred to anyone that those experiencing life within those sitcoms doesn’t find what’s happening to them to be funny? We are, as audience members, more likely than not laughing at their pain), we are generally oblivious to ourContinue reading “Not Feeling It”

Leave Behind a Morsel

Dearest Rachel – Back in the 70s and 80s, my great aunt Belva participated in a ministry for international students attending Northwestern; inviting them over for a home-cooked meal, introducing them to our church community, that sort of thing. She had a great knack for keeping in touch with ‘her students’ after they graduated andContinue reading “Leave Behind a Morsel”

Late for Dinner

Dearest Rachel – “You can call me anything you want; just don’t call me late for dinner!” It was probably one of the first jokes I was ever told by my grandfather as a little kid, and one that I never really got at that age (“what kind of name is Late For Dinner, andContinue reading “Late for Dinner”

Sleeping In Denim

Dearest Rachel – It seems there are a few memes out there about people who sleep dressed, specifically while wearing jeans… Not sure I understand what the fuss is all about. Between showering after walking home, and therefore changing afterwards (look, it’s August in Chicago – why should I stay in those sweaty clothes anyContinue reading “Sleeping In Denim”

Going Sideways

Dearest Rachel – I have a feeling that the old boy is starting to lose it. Just this past Monday, I brought him inside from his morning constitutional, set him down on his blanket, got him his water, and set to preparing his food. When I finished with it, I placed it down on theContinue reading “Going Sideways”

Wondering if the Chains Will Hold

Dearest Rachel – When I was a little kid, I really wasn’t much for roller coasters. The idea of being spun around and inverted at those dizzying speeds, suspended at heights that, were I to fall from, would undoubtedly kill me (and that was merely the drop itself; never mind the metal mechanisms and trackContinue reading “Wondering if the Chains Will Hold”

Out in a Freezing Rain

Dearest Rachel – I’m not gonna play the song here and now, because it deserves it’s own essay sometime in the future, but Mark Heard wrote “Another Good Lie” about those well-intentioned lies he had been told in his younger days by his closest friends and those older and supposedly wiser than himself. Things likeContinue reading “Out in a Freezing Rain”

The Brains God Gave Gravel

Dearest Rachel – You may have noticed throughout the course of this these letters that I have written a great deal about Chompers throughout the course of my efforts to adjust to your loss and absence. And considering my general apathy towards him during your lifetime, I’m sure you would find that rather odd. ForContinue reading “The Brains God Gave Gravel”

A Bullet for the Critic

Dearest Rachel – Midnight! Two! Six! What is with this dog, that he can’t tell me a decent nights sleep?! After all, if Daniel is to be believed (and he’s never been a very good liar), the old boy sleeps plenty soundly during the day. Okay, maybe I have my answer, there. And to beContinue reading “A Bullet for the Critic”

Can’t Get Used to It

Dearest Rachel – After getting Chompers settled last night, and staying up till just shy of midnight to ensure that he’s at least gotten himself comfortable – if not fallen asleep – I drop myself into bed and lose myself in a fitful sort of sleep; one colored with images inspired by AI’s artist guest,Continue reading “Can’t Get Used to It”

Walking Him Home

Dearest Rachel – I have just woken up, and am lying in bed, dictating this. This morning’s dream was nothing particularly special. If anything, the scene seemed almost realistic, at least, in appearance. In it, I was walking Chompers home. Not on the return leg of whatever circuit we might be taking; no, I’m talkingContinue reading “Walking Him Home”

The Last Will and Testament of Sir Silk Cerise

“July 26, 2011 “Sir Silk Cerise – Last Will & Testament “I bequeath unto my family: a tear on their cheek, a hollow in their hearts, and my thanks for over thirteen years of love and kindness. “At 8:45, Dr. Barclay gave Sir Silk his shots to put him to sleep (He watched us, waggingContinue reading “The Last Will and Testament of Sir Silk Cerise”

The Algebra of Nighttime

Dearest Rachel – So I was napping in my recliner last night, as I tend to do when I realize that Chompers is, when I was awoken by the old man barking. He had woken up, and he needed… something. Fine. That’s more than fair. So I get up to head to the kitchen andContinue reading “The Algebra of Nighttime”

Birthday Plans Gone Awry

Dearest Rachel – There are times when I wish I was better at writing at certain hours. The early mornings, in particular, are fairly conducive to the process, as there’s nobody up but me and the dog. Even on our busy thorough fare, cars are few and far between at this hour. I have theContinue reading “Birthday Plans Gone Awry”

Passing in His Sleep

Dearest Rachel – The other day, I got tired of waiting for Chompers to fall back asleep so that I could leave for the ‘office,’ so I just left him lying on the blanket in the sunroom, in the hopes that he would eventually find a comfortable position and go to sleep without disturbing DanielContinue reading “Passing in His Sleep”

Another Errandy Day

Dearest Rachel – There are some days where I just feel like I have to keep you appraised of everything that’s been going on. What is it the song says? “A line a day, when you’re far away”? Yeah, I haven’t exactly been able to keep up with that. Sure, there’s plenty to talk aboutContinue reading “Another Errandy Day”

Three Lefts

Dearest Rachel – I’m sure you’re familiar with the old saying that ‘two wrongs don’t make a right.’ And I’m sure that Relient K weren’t the first people to come up with it when they added the subtitle ‘(but three lefts do)’ to one of their albums. But that’s the full phrase that goes throughContinue reading “Three Lefts”

Waking Up Is Hard To Do

Dearest Rachel – There are still some mornings when I wake up, bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to take on the world and everything in it. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, God’s in his heaven and all’s well with the world. I can’t remember when the last time was that IContinue reading “Waking Up Is Hard To Do”

A Bountiful Harvest

Dearest Rachel – Normally, when he barks to be let out during the day, I’m not the one home to put Chompers out; that’s something Daniel handles. Even when I’m home, I’m usually busy with Jan in another part of the house. And during weekends and holidays, when I am the go-to for getting himContinue reading “A Bountiful Harvest”

Powders and Pills

Dearest Rachel – I say this a lot these days, especially in these letters to you, but today I’m doing something I really never expected I would need to do. I’m picking up more medicine for Chompers. Granted, it’s not a prescription medicine or anything like that. Just some powdered distilled from cranberries in orderContinue reading “Powders and Pills”

The Ingenuity of Fools

Dearest Rachel – There’s an old saying that I’m fond of quoting that insists you can’t make anything foolproof, because fools are too ingenious. I’m reminded of it as I watch Chompers stagger about in his little wheelchair. It’s supposed to function on the same principle as training wheels on a children’s bicycle, where theyContinue reading “The Ingenuity of Fools”

The Wee Hour Sleeping Pill

Dearest Rachel – It seems that so many of these letters are written to you in the wee hours of the morning, and they’re always about the never-ending struggle to get Chompers to bed. Well, for what it’s worth, it’s not intentional. It just so happens that in that hour or more that I findContinue reading “The Wee Hour Sleeping Pill”

What Size His Domain?

Dearest Rachel – For all the time he spends asleep, it’s amazing how hard Chompers resists being put to bed at night time. there are times when it’s an absolutely titanic struggle to get him to find a place where he’s comfortable enough to curl up and go to sleep. Considering how he has veryContinue reading “What Size His Domain?”

The Unpredictable Squeak

Dearest Rachel – Another day, another weird Chompers experience. This isn’t the first time even this week that he’s barked to go out at 5:30 in the morning, but this one was different insofar as it was raining. So, not a pleasant experience for either of us. Nor, as far as I can tell, aContinue reading “The Unpredictable Squeak”

Nothing Too Out of the Ordinary

Dearest Rachel – So what can I tell you about a day like today? The thing is, some days are… not all that remarkable. They may be eventful, but there’s not much to really say about them. And this has been one of those days. The morning started out with nothing all that out ofContinue reading “Nothing Too Out of the Ordinary”

The Lord Never Spoke to Me (part nine – conclusion, for now)

Dearest Rachel – The letters that I wrote you back when we were officially courting never had titles. They were either filling you in on the things that were going on in my life while we were separated, or explaining the songs that I was sending you along with the letter, or just telling youContinue reading “The Lord Never Spoke to Me (part nine – conclusion, for now)”

The Very Opposite of a Gift

Dearest Rachel – I suppose it’s my own fault for letting Chompers sleep so much during the day. But you know the old saying about sleeping dogs: I don’t want to disturb him. Particularly since Logan’s been over since we got back from Kevin’s place. I figured that Daniel and he can keep an eyeContinue reading “The Very Opposite of a Gift”

The Path to the Park

Dearest Rachel – So I must say, the wheelchair affords both Chompers and I a little extra freedom. He can wander about the front lawn as much as he wants for as long as he wants, while I sit here on the porch and take in the sights and sounds. And yes, even as emptyContinue reading “The Path to the Park”

Never All At Once

Dearest Rachel – As frustrating as dealing with Chompers can be, one of the most difficult has been the fact that he never seems to be satisfied with what he has or where he is. As a result, there are times when all the boxes are ticked – he’s been fed (although that only happensContinue reading “Never All At Once”

The Brief Revisitation

Dearest Rachel – So, before last night’s online Bible study with Pastor Joel, I went through the usual routine of feeding Chompers and taking him outside to deal with the usual business. While out there, I bent down at some point to keep him from walking through the puddles he’d just made – and asContinue reading “The Brief Revisitation”

Keeping Upright

Dearest Rachel – Sometimes, I find myself wondering how far Chompers has declined since your passing, or if you were just that uncomplaining about dealing with him – apart from the fact that no amount of massaging your lower back (which I know, you were always thoroughly grateful for) had any lasting effect. Keeping upContinue reading “Keeping Upright”

Errands

Dearest Rachel – The woods are lovely, dark and deep,But I have promises to keep,And miles to go before I sleep,And miles to go before I sleep. Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening And I’m not even thinking about the training for the Marathon (or, barring actually committing to it, the continuedContinue reading “Errands”

Shin Splints, Shoes, Snowfall and Subjects Set Aside

Dearest Rachel – So, it appears that whatever I was struck with yesterday when I attempted to run is referred to as ‘shin splints,’ and they’re a fairly common ailment when you don’t have the ‘right’ shoes. And while I’m not about to argue with more seasoned runners, it’s weird that I’ve never dealt withContinue reading “Shin Splints, Shoes, Snowfall and Subjects Set Aside”

Things I Never Dreamed I’d Do

Dearest Rachel – I’m gonna nudge the fourth wall yet again tonight, as I wait for Chompers to fall asleep, I’m going to mention the fact that any time I talk about the old boy, I seem to get a lot more people actually reading my post. I don’t know why; this whole series ofContinue reading “Things I Never Dreamed I’d Do”

A Full Dog Year

Dearest Rachel – It would seem that another milestone has just slipped past me without notice. Granted, it’s probably because I didn’t think to make the calculation earlier, but I just realized that a week ago, Chompers has survived for seventy-three days since the accident. Based on the generally accepted rule that (apart from theContinue reading “A Full Dog Year”

Halfway Through the Woods

Dearest Rachel – Sometimes people leave youHalfway through the wood.Others may deceive you.You decide what’s good.You decide alone.But no one is alone. “No One Is Alone” from Into The Woods The song sprang to my head early this morning, as I tried to figure out what Chompers wanted at what even I would consider toContinue reading “Halfway Through the Woods”

All the Responsibility, None of the Joy

Dearest Rachel – You’ve probably noticed by now the fact that the tags “dog” and “complaint” appear to go hand in hand on my letters to you. I know how much you wanted me to appreciate your love of dogs, but you just couldn’t manage; the best you ever managed to get from me wasContinue reading “All the Responsibility, None of the Joy”

The Last Visit

Dearest Rachel – Well, it’s over. Chompers survived through his final hydrotherapy session. For once (after several weeks of Erin’s urgings), I even remembered to bring treats for him, to reward him for getting there, for letting the girls push him around in the pool, and for enduring the indignities of being dried off afterwards,Continue reading “The Last Visit”

Faded Glow

Dearest Rachel – Some nights, getting Chompers to bed isn’t so difficult. Give him his pill, take him out, he pees, bring him in, set him down, give him his bedtime treats, and let him position himself (I am starting to learn that, regardless of what he’s truly capable of, he’d prefer to at leastContinue reading “Faded Glow”

Bathing vs Barking

Dearest Rachel – No, I’m not about to talk about bathing Chompers. I honestly don’t have a clue how to go about that, and if anything, I should probably set up an appointment with the groomers to deal with that at some point in the near future. After all, he needs his nails trimmed andContinue reading “Bathing vs Barking”

Is This A Feature?

Dearest Rachel – You might recall a cartoon by the man I would refer to as “Uncle Gary” (since we shared the same last name, right down to the spelling with an “o” rather than an “e”): So, just a few minutes ago, at about one in the morning, I rolled out of my sickbedContinue reading “Is This A Feature?”

So Many Spinning Plates

Dearest Rachel – Home used to be a haven for me. I could come home after a hard day, even after spending a hour or two (or three) in a conference room being told by my boss that I was a worthless piece of, well, you know; that I was a huge disappointment to him,Continue reading “So Many Spinning Plates”

How Will I Know?

Dearest Rachel – You’d probably think from the title of this post, along with my habit of adding music to various missives as appropriate, that you’d be hearing the strains of Whitney Houston by now. Well, this isn’t that kind of topic; so… surprise?! The thing is, as I’ve been struggling to keep up withContinue reading “How Will I Know?”

from Rachel: Psalm 19:13

Dearest Rachel – There are times when I really wish I knew the context behind some of the notes you left behind for me to find – although that is surely not what you intended. Honestly, you seem to have kept a lot of secrets about yourself – things written down for nobody’s eyes butContinue reading “from Rachel: Psalm 19:13”

Vernal Equinox

Dearest Rachel – Well, it’s not quite been two months, but we’ve reached something of a milestone. Spring is upon us – at least, according to the split of daytime to nighttime. I’ve been hearing about something called “Chicagohenge” wherein the rising and setting sun throw light westward and eastward respectively for blocks. I’d neverContinue reading “Vernal Equinox”

Chasing the Sandman

Dearest Rachel – Does it still count as sleep if, while your body lies there, recumbent in bed, your mind is spinning like tires stuck in the snow? Because I don’t know the answer; all I know is that I don’t want to get up yet. The girls came over last night, just to hangContinue reading “Chasing the Sandman”

So Many Little Things

Dearest Rachel – You know I began this site as a form of therapy – a way to reach out to you despite knowing full well that you would see neither a word nor a pixel of it. It made a sort of bookending sense – we started our courtship by writing letters to eachContinue reading “So Many Little Things”

Parkinson’s Law as Applied to Dogs

Dearest Rachel – One of the results of my working (slowly and carefully, to be sure – I’ve no intention of throwing out anything you’ve written on that’s less trivial than, say, a one-time shopping list) on clearing… stuff… from your your side of the bedroom, is that the amount of room that Chompers hasContinue reading “Parkinson’s Law as Applied to Dogs”

Nanette’s Rule

Dearest Rachel – Last night was not one of Chompers’ better nights. You would think that, after having the girls visit during the afternoon, and being exercised outside for quite some time because of it – to say nothing of having stayed up until 11:30 for his late-night pain pill rather than the usual 10:30,Continue reading “Nanette’s Rule”

No Longer Much for Mornings

Dearest Rachel – You remember well that I was, for all intents and purposes, a morning person. Not so much out of choice as necessity; when you have to be at work at a certain time, staying up until 3 in the morning like you and Daniel used to do was just out of theContinue reading “No Longer Much for Mornings”

The Cruelty of the Cold

Dearest Rachel – It seems ever since you left, the days have conspired to outdo each other in cold brutality. Even the day of the accident was forecast to be the coldest of the season to date: we were all bundled in jackets and parkas more heavily than we had been in years. Not thatContinue reading “The Cruelty of the Cold”

Vet’s Day

Dearest Rachel – I’d like to think I’m starting to get the hang of dealing with Chompers (I’m probably wrong, though). As problematic as last night was, at least I got a fair amount of rest on both sides of that two-hour, fourteen-checkup nightmare. So basically, I’m adopting a rule of “sleep when he sleeps,”Continue reading “Vet’s Day”

He’s Your Dog, All Right

Honey – When I set out to write to you as a form of therapy, I expected to write, and for people to read, about the feelings I was dealing with, of the memories of the two of us (or the three of us – let’s not forget Daniel, and the fact that we didContinue reading “He’s Your Dog, All Right”