journal . stories . life

15 ~ November 2022

In August Mollie traveled the star path to Heaven. She had a stroke in April, but thanks to a cocktail of medicine by my wonderful veterinarian, Mollie was able to recover and have an active last summer. But one afternoon in August I found her at the bottom of the four stairs leading out of the dog room into the garage, and she declined further from there. Eventually Mollie was not able to stand or acknowledge me, and so the kindest thing to do was to let her go.

Knowing what was coming after her April stroke did not lessen the heartbreak I had for losing my little girl dog. She was the most wild hearted dog of all the border collies I or my daughters have owned in my lifetime. (9 border collies). When we were out hiking above timberline off trail, the other borders would always be nearby as we traveled. Mollie would be out ahead roaming, although she always knew where I was. Sometimes she would worry me if it went more than a few minutes after me calling her, but she always showed up. I recall one day when she was young, when Ben and Maggie and I were on the way to an alpine basin, I could see Mollie up near the top of a ridge, several hundred feet higher, paralleling our movements.

Having Mollie along always heightened my experiences in outdoors and wilderness, just by the enjoyment of seeing how much she loved it all.

When I would backpack during the new moon and get up in the middle of the night to see the Milky Way and take star photos, Beau and Hayley would soon retreat back into the tent. (‘Dad, nights are for sleeping!’). Mollie would always stay out with me, lying down a few feet away and experiencing the mystery and beauty of the night just as I was. A favorite image I have is my loyal little girl border collie with me on a mountainside with all the night stars and the arc of the Milky Way spread out overhead.

I am so grateful that Mollie recovered enough in the spring to have an adventurous summer with me and Beau and Hayley, doing what she loved best. How she lived her last years is the model of how I would like to finish my life - active to near the very end.

(click on photos below for larger image . . . - Esc or clicking outside of image will close it)

My own health scare this month was waking up in the middle of the night with a persistent chest pain. I drove myself to the Lutheran ER, and two EKG’s, plus blood tests and other monitoring showed no heart attack. By morning the pain had subsided. Another EKG 8 days later was normal. Now I am scheduled for more tests in the next two months to measure for plaque. (an echocardiogram and a CT angiography). The good news is the heart doctor didn’t limit my activity in the interim before the tests, so I am looking forward to continuing to mix my hiking with going dancing, as I have done the last 20 plus years.

I see this as the first real sign of the nearing of end of life, which we all will face eventually. My hope is to be around to see Beau and Hayley through the end of theirs. Beyond that I might welcome whatever comes, since there is a freedom at the culmination of a long life, stepping into the mystery of what the next one might be.

There are plenty of things I would do different if I could, but I am trying to forgive myself for them, just as a person might forgive others, which is also my task and goal.

Understanding how little time we potentially have left is a good thing. It causes us to appreciate more the good health days that we have now. You love all things that much more knowing you may not be around to experience them in the future.

(Today is my Mother's Birthday. Happy Birthday Mom!)

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart"