One foot

Putting one foot in front of the other.  That’s what this week has felt like.

I was not expecting this underlying  . . . and unaccustomed . . . layer of sadness that is permeating my days right now.

But we go on.  People carry on.

I went to Soulard Market on Saturday and returned with white grapes, green beans, strawberries, new potatoes, cantaloupe, some limes, and a four-pound brisket that will serve me well this week.  Plus 30 pounds of Jonathan apples that will need to be worked up on Sunday and Monday.

And I taught my usual contingent of lessons this week as well, save for two illness no-shows on Saturday.

Friday night grin between performances.

Friday night grin between performances.

We opened Heathers at New Line Theatre this week.  Opening night on Friday was a sold-out thrill.  I arrived late because I spent the first part of the evening at Webster University for the first choral concert of the year — a stunning performance by three of our choirs.

Speaking of Heathers, this show is incredibly complex, multi-layered, and really quite beautiful.  I’m so glad to have been associated with it.

The sympathy cards started arriving today.  I burst into tears again.

Sam had been with me all but one of the months that I’ve lived in this house.  The shadows are everywhere.

As I have read further this week, I am convinced beyond doubt that Samson had canine dementia.  The behavior changes are all consistent with many of the markers of that illness.  Release was the right loving final act, no matter how sorrowful for those of us who loved him so.


A word

Samson the Fearless, except in storms.

Samson the Fearless, except in storms.

Thanks to a colleague for a word from Samson, now beyond sight but firm in memory:

I was your friend.

I loved you well, and was loved. Deep love endures

To the end and far past the end. If this is my end,

I am not lonely. I am not afraid. I am still yours.

~excerpted from “The House Dog’s Grave,” by Jeffers

Another award

The Riverfront Times Best of St. Louis 2015 Awards are out . . .


Here’s what RFT had to say:


Staff Pick

Best Musical Director

Jeffrey Richard Carter, New Line Theatre

imageJeffrey Richard Carter could have earned this award solely for his nimble work in Jerry Springer: The Opera at New Line Theatre. Richard Thomas’ score incorporates a variety of musical styles, from big Broadway show tunes to molto allegro classical music. Carter sweated and rocked his way through that show, but the music never sounded strained or hurried; it was beautiful and at times sublime. Carter also deserved to be recognized for his stewardship of Kurt Weill’s pre-war jazz songs in New Line’s The Threepenny Opera. “Mack the Knife” is a tune that everyone knows even if they don’t care for musicals (the fools!), but Carter and his small ensemble made its rickety rhythms sound brand-new. The director set a decidedly jaunty tempo, which offset Brecht’s cynical lyrics and underlined the topsy-turvy themes of the show. The fact that he’s behind two such singular performances this year would lead one to argue for two individual awards. Judges? No? Well, all right. One dual-purpose award will have to do the trick.

Acts of kindness

I shall attempt to write this without breaking into another sobbing jag . . . .

The past three days have been filled with touching, quiet, meaningful — and truly moving — acts of kindness.

Some years ago, I wrote a letter to someone whose dog has died.  That dog, Rufus, had lived publicly for more than a decade in a writer’s regular newspaper column.  When the dog died, thousands mourned him.

I wrote at that time “He was, by extension, our dog too.”

Samson was clearly a like canine for many.  I know that my colleagues at school, and my students, enjoyed seeing him and loving on him during his at-first frequent, and more recently less frequent visits to campus.  I also know that many people I don’t often see knew Sam through this blog.  He had become, in some way, a pet for many.

The outpouring of support for me, and of love for the both of us, has truly given me strength to deal with the fraught emotion and the sadness.  I’m so very grateful to so many individuals, and to the universal good.

A message last evening reminded me that I gave Sam the ultimate loving last gift — freedom from his infirmities, and a hug and whispered words of love until his last breath.  I needed that reminder.

Sam now lives in memory (and plenty of photos).  He filled many hearts.  And I think we filled his.

I’m going to close this chapter on blog (at least I think I’m going to), because the time is right for me to grieve, but to keep moving as well.

But first, some parting photos of my sweet and much-loved companion:

So long, Sam


Rescued December 30, 2008

Gone home September 28, 2015

Age 15


So long, my buddy and companion.




The day I brought him home for the first time.


From an email this weekend:

He’s 15.  He’s gone downhill over the last six months in particular.  He isn’t always in control of his bladder.  He’s unhappy.  He barks at phantoms and paces up a worry.  He’s up and down during the night.  He shakes uncontrollably for long stretches, whether in fear or in confusion or both.  In short, his quality of life is not what it was when he joined me seven years ago.  One recent dogsitter remarked at how much Sam had aged.  I see Sam daily and of course don’t see it so clearly, but when I take stock, the signs are there.

All the lit says to say goodbye earlier rather than later, and that humane-ness trumps wanting more days with the pet.  I gotta say, though — this decision feels pretty selfish on my part, but I’m going to listen to my head, as much as my heart is already grieving.

Jean has reminded me that Sam has had much more life than he ever would have expected, thanks to me.  I know, but it’s little solace right now.

He went peacefully, asleep from a sedative, cradled in my arms.  I had wept furiously earlier this afternoon, but at the final moment I spoke quietly to him.  He is now released from his unhappiness, from his aches and pains, from the age that was increasingly and inexorably closing him in.

I know that grief is part of the bargain of love.  And I know that joy will come soon enough.  My head knows this.  My heart believes it.

So why do I hurt and sob so?  On this day, sorrow and my own loss are all I see.

Rest in peace, sweet pup.  I pray that the joys you have brought me were repaid a thousandfold as you traveled this seven years with me.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,687 other followers