As I write this final post about Cooper James, there are more tears of joy than of loss for he and I did a pretty fine job of making the most of the time we had, which really was not that long but to be honest, it would never have been long enough for me. Yet, the fact that we were together is what comforts. Gratitude always sustains.
Cooper died on New Year’s Eve, and I have not been able to write this post until now for with his passing, a chapter ends but also, a chapter begins. Right now, I’m straddling the pages but as the days pass, the new chapter will begin to write itself. It always does.
Publishing a final post to sum up Cooper’s life just didn’t seem to suit. I seemed to recognize that early on so I began publishing occasional posts about our life together. I wanted to capture as many moments as I could, for Cooper was truly curious about his world. All dogs are completely present all the time but Cooper’s curiosity seemed to enrich his experience on the physical plane.
Cooper was not a dog that everyone loved nor did people see him as a perfect kind of dog. He was handsome, and he knew it, and he was a charmer, albeit a quirky one. Originally named Snoop, he lived up to his name. In Day of Freedom, I relay how he and his cat friend, EmmaRose, came to live with me. Then, I did not know that freedom resides in every moment, if only we are aware.
In Trailblazing, I wrote of Cooper’s intervertebral disc disease and further explained the consequences of a lifelong love of snooping: Cooper has enjoyed reasonably good health, other than taking a daily Pepcid for most of this last year. Essentially, Cooper views the world in terms of how edible it is, often deciding to take a chance. This lifelong habit seems to have caught up with him. Cooper never missed taking a chance, and I began to understand how limiting hesitation is.
Shedding, which proved to be my most popular post for 2012, recounts our first visit to Waverly park. Spring was just starting. Everywhere, everything is coming to life as Cooper snores….There is a lifetime in this moment, as always.
In What Abundance Knows, Cooper, EmmaRose, and I, once separate, were now together enjoying abundance. How we lived before does not define us nor does it measure who we are.
The first sign of real decline was apparent In the Moment: Even with disk disease and deteriorating joints, Cooper strives for the handsome gait that has all but left him. In seeing his ramp with his car for the first time, he took that in stride as well—allowing me to guide him in—bearing the grace of the being he is. Once in the car, I buckled us into our seats. With hand and paw on the gear shift, we moved into yet another moment.
By summer, we were celebrating Waverly Mornings as an idyllic frame for every day’s possibilities. I am grateful to Cooper for these Waverly mornings for it is his heart that holds us fast to our ritual. He has taught me the forever joy of “bye-bye in the car.” It is a lifetime gift, of course. Already there are times that we must settle for the memory of Waverly but for every day we are able, we have a Waverly morning.
However, as the winter solstice approached, Waverly in Winter was one of our last visits: I watch him more than he realizes. Every time, I am glad that we are at Waverly on this day and that he is engaging with every scent he can find and even in winter, there are many. I do my best to stay as present as Cooper for far too easily my mind wanders to spring and whether or not Cooper will be with me at Waverly, gazebo or no. On the afternoon of the winter solstice, he had his first seizure.
The day that As Death Brushed By posted was Cooper’s last full day on the physical plane. What a visit we had at Waverly that day. The humidity was non-existent, and Cooper walked the circle that is Waverly pond. For the last time, he made his stiff, little legs trot just a bit in celebration of the day dawning. That evening, he suffered another seizure more severe than the first.
Once again, I watched over him through the night, and in the morning, he went for his last “bye-bye in the car,” a 2.5 hour ride, his last trip to Gainesville where he would cross the Rainbow Bridge. I thanked Cooper James for all that he gave me as he drifted into sleep, his last, and for me, the last time I would watch over him.
Regular blog posts will resume January 10, 2013.