8 January

If You Love, You Will Suffer. It is Worth It. Goodbye To Lenore

by Jon Katz
Lenore's Last Day
Lenore’s Last Day

I am heartbroken to tell you that Lenore died earlier this evening from complications caused by a spinal tumor that had become too painful for her – and us – to bear. She died at the Cambridge Valley Veterinary Service, she is, I suspect, eagerly looking for the crumbs the angels drop in the sky. Her tail was thumping to the end, even as the vets inserted their needle.

I took this last photo of her earlier today, my last photo of her,  it showed the resignation in her eyes, I think, she was ready to leave our world behind and return to hers. Maria said she saw her happy spirit leave her body and rise to the sky.

Words are my life, my work, but I do not have words to capture what Lenore meant to me, and what she did for me – and for Maria and I. She brought love to me when I had given up on it, she made it possible for me to love Maria and kept my heart from turning to stone. I remember telling a therapist about Lenore, and she looked at me curiously and said, “this is what you want. In a person.” So it was.

Lenore became Maria’s dog as well as mine, they both came to cherish their walks in the woods together. Lenore slept at the food of our bed every night, she was the Love Dog, a witness to our love and connection.  Like Izzy and Red, Lenore was a hospice therapy dog, her career cut short by the disappearance of several sandwiches belonging to the terminally ill and at their bedsides.

Watching Lenore in such awful pain this week was the most difficult experience of my life with animals, and I am grateful that she is in peace, her pain is over. She never lost her joy of life.  Maria and I are grateful to Dr. Suzanne Fariello an Cassandra and the staff of the  Cambridge veterinary service, they were wonderful – perfect, empathetic, responsive, available, merciful. They worried about Lenore, they worried about us. They supported us in every way.

In a sense, this is what unites us, loss is the common human experience, a challenge to faith, a test of the heart. We all know what it feels like to lose something we love, the awful beauty and connection of grief.

Lenore was heavily sedated, she died with her head in my arms and Maria holding the both of us, I have not ever cried so much in my life, how cleansing are tears. These are all the words I have tonight, I did want you to know, you have shared Lenore’s life with me from the first day. I am profoundly grateful to Gretchen Pinkel, the wonderful breeder who knew Lenore was the right dog for me. Thank you for all the love you gave Lenore, like Simon, she was not just my animal, not just my dog, she belonged to many others and my loss is theirs as well.

The Quakers have a saying, if you love, you will suffer, and it is worth it. So it is, this week, much suffering in my life with animals, and it flows from so much joy and meaning. It was worth every minute of it.

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