I just have to pick up her leash and Mercy, my Samoyed, runs around the living room in crazed circles of joy. It connects us, allows us to amble along, each in our own separate world. Unless Mercy stops to sniff, pee or poop, I can pretty much ignore her and get lost in my own thoughts. It both unites and separates us, like love itself. It tethers me to my own body, my own need to walk, to breathe, to soak up the world.
It’s like the invisible tether that connected my husband Terry and I, while he was alive, and after he died. A tether that linked me to his spirit in the next world, a tie that I imagined could never be severed, until, like Mercy’s leash eventually, I suppose, it slowly withered away. And he was free, and I was left behind.
Dog/human demographics being what they are, I imagine I will outlive Mercy as well, something I think about every time I bury my nose in her soft fur, every time I retrieve her leash and watch her go berserk with happiness.
Loss is universal, ubiquitous and relentless, yet it connects us to our capacity to love, it ties us to our loved ones, it’s the leash to our humanity.
Photos by Steve Horan