The film replays

I am currently on my journey back to the Midwest on the Lakeshore Limited Amtrak train, and have found myself blessed with a much better view this time around. The sun set over the Hudson River as the world whisked by, I held Charlie’s tag while finally shedding my first tears of the day, having somehow held them inside until I had made it to my sleeper car. This trip was heavy. I wasn’t sure how I would feel at the ending, if I would want to stay longer or if I would be ready to return to Milwaukee, and it has turned out to be a mixture of the two.

The veterinarian (or the angel of death as I’ve been referring to him), let me know his ashes would be ready the day I return coincidentally, synchronistically, like how the morning of his death I opened the cupboard to find it bare; after watching a monarch butterfly land on a freshly planted tree. Though I’m eager to have his remains back where they belong, I am not necessarily looking forward to being alone in that place again, the place that once felt like home but no longer truly does. I hope over time my heart will recognize it as a place of comfort.

During the past week, there were difficult moments, mostly when the quiet stillness seeped in, causing my mind to replay his final moments like a film I couldn’t stop in my mind, which is when I would turn on videos or music to fill my brain instead. I have been finding podcasts about grief helpful, and especially the ones where they acknowledge losing an animal companion can be just as painful as losing a close friend or family member. Our relationship was pure, no arguments, ultimately forgiving, and unconditionally loving. My darkest thoughts have included that I will never be unconditionally loved again and I try to brush those aside.

However, what was great about New York is that it’s the perfect place to stay busy and distracted, and unlike back home, I would get out every day to explore, walking mindlessly around Brooklyn admiring the graffiti art and shops. This trip was good for me, empowering, and it showed me there is a future and fulfilling life beyond what I have lost. I want to bring my sense of adventure back with me, and not only explore my own neighborhood more frequently, but also my inner universe, where the rivers run deep in my veins and stars appear beneath my eyelids, questioning why the films that play in my head repeat the way they do and what makes my heart sing. What makes me feel whole. I used to tell Charlie “it’s just you and me buddy” like it was us against the world, but now it’s just me. Though he has taught me so much about who I am and who I want to be, where I want to go.


Grief Train

FDA4A5DD-0BDD-4670-BF7F-7F309DD97CF5About a week ago I decided I needed to escape my usual surroundings after the death of my best friend and companion, my dog Charlie. I booked a train ticket to New York for a creative sabbatical and decided taking a sleeper roomette was one of those bucket list things I wanted to try.

Watching the world pass by and the landscape slowly changing with the weather felt like watching a visual manifestation of letting my emotions come and go. Mostly I cried, eventually wiping away my tears to try to distract myself with podcasts, picking at a blueberry muffin or spending some time in the dining car for the 360 views. The Lakeshore Limited is a beautiful route to New York that would probably be even more enjoyable if one was not in a state of emotional disarray. Yes, I spent much of the time coping with my recent loss and subsequent existential crisis, but the views. The ambiance.

There was also an incident around 7:30am this morning where I realized our sleeper car was locked from the rest of the train by accident, and to my horror there was no coffee in our car, and let me tell you it’s difficult to sleep on a moving train. Eventually myself and a couple other passengers turned on all our call light buttons on and about 30 minutes later we were let out, very exciting.

It isn’t possible to heal yourself with one trip, and I’m not sure that “finding yourself” on a getaway is a healthy concept, the work is never done, but I do think there is importance in getting outside of your comfort zone and gaining a new sense of perspective.

Since Charlie’s death I’ve been struggling to feel connected, wanted, loved, needed, he provided so many of those feelings of comfort and the emptiness he left behind has been almost unbearable. In a way this trip is a test…if I can learn to be gentler to myself, be my own best friend, build self reliance. All things I feel could be improved.
It is true after all that no matter where you go, there you are.

Goodbye to My Adventure Buddy

In memory of Charlie (12.5.2006 to 8.31.2022)

For the past 15 years my beloved dog Charlie had been at my side, ready to take on the world with me and whatever adventure I could think of, he traveled exceptionally well in the car, and we drove all over the country. He was just happy being with me. During all of our adventures and camping trips, touring my music, exploring new places, Charlie was there for me through thick and thin. It was with great distress that I had to make the decision two weeks ago to say goodbye to my best friend and let him pass as peacefully as possible. I’m still heartbroken every day, there is nothing like the unconditional love and companionship of a dog.
We understood each other telepathically, I anticipated his every basic need and did the best I could showing him love and care. I was 19 years old when I got Charlie and my life was never the same. This year despite Charlie’s elderly state we went on three different local cabin adventures, then to my dismay I had to cancel our last trip to NYC, due to his ailments finally catching up to us. After spending the past two weeks in my home, getting used to the silence, moving things around, desperately trying to save and hold on to every last memory of Charlie, I’ve felt the need to escape. Go someplace new, do the thing we used to love doing together, travel. So, I found a couple cheap cross country train tickets and plan on leaving after one more show for 10 days, I hope to be able to clear my mind, gain some perspective, and get inspired to create new art. I love and miss Charlie every day ❤ ~L