When we retired, we asked Brian, our youngest, to take back Wooly a mix breed Terrier/Malamud he had raised. Our children's pets were still around while our children had grown and left the coop. Our eldest had a dog named Snoozy since he was ten, our daughter a red cat named Red since she was eleven, and Brian had Wooly for his tenth birthday.
One of the saddest moments for Brian was finding out that Wooly had incurable cancer. Losing her was one of the hardest blow he had ever experienced.
When we moved to Oregon, we had hoped Brian could relieve us of Wooly for a while at least. It was time for us to travel, to readjust to each other, to find a new way of life away from the hustle and bustle of big city life. Brian was in graduate school at that time, with a house and room mates, and a yard for his dog. He didn't hesitate at all. We gave him the option of bringing Wooly back to us once we were estabished in our new digs. He chose to keep her with him.
After he graduated and moved to a new job, now with a cat in tow, he kept talking about getting a house so he could get a new dog. He did, get a house, and get a dog.
After Brian's death, we had to decide what to do with his new dog and old cat. We knew his beloved dog would be too much for us. Young and full of energy, she needed not just a yard, but hours of intense workouts, things Brian had provided with pleasure. Fortunately, a young neighbor offered to take Butters in and she trotted off after him with enthusiasm.
Newkie, the long haired cat didn't have any takers among Brian's friends and neighbors. She had been mostly an indoor cat, we knew, and easy to care for. She came home with us after the funeral.
And here she is, examining her new digs, wondering around the property and hardly venturing further than the perimeter of the front yard. In the early morning, she whines to be let out, only to discover that the weather here in Oregon is decidedly different from her Southern California drought. She doesn't understand rain at all, finding refuge under the eves if she feels even one drop. But, she has adjusted to a different environment, that of quiet readings and quiet computer work. She sits right by my chair most days, at times, attempting to see if her paws can make the same pictures come up on the screen. I know she had not dreamed of such life, just as we never envisioned a time without Brian.
We look across the lake regularly, Newkie and I, and we absorb the unanticipated calms after each storm. But storms do return; rather, storms will gather from afar, from places anticipated and unanticipated, will cut a major swath in our psyche, whether we want that or not, and will continue to do so.
Only we, Newkie and I and Brian and all the people and animals we have loved, we are just temporary witnesses to events we wish we had been smart enough to see coming, or lucky enough to avoid.