Lost and found

“You can love someone very much, and have them not be the right person for you.”

Hard words to say.

Impossible words to hear. Killing words. Words from my nightmares’ nightmares.

But I heard them, in January, nonetheless, not long after I posted part seven of “A year ago,” and when I faced my gutted house in March, I felt too confused, too ashamed, too nostalgic, to know whether I should go back and delete those entries. Entries he encouraged me to write, even though he knew, must have known, by then, what he needed to do to preserve himself. Maybe he hoped they would make him feel something he couldn’t, didn’t, never really had.

There are no take-backsies on the internet, of course. If I “deleted” them, would they really be gone?

Even if yes: writers face the truth. The ugly truths most of all.

I meant those words when I wrote them. I stand by them. Keeping them is painful; humiliating, actually, because I feel foolish to have been so publicly naïve. But deleting them is worse. Deleting them gives power to this new and unfathomable reality in which I now exist. One in which I had unknowingly existed for—how many months? How long did he know?

I don’t know. But I assert my reality. The little scrap of it I can cling to. A crepuscular memory, golden and fading.

So the words will stay, but I may never read them again.

I will strive to move on:

A little black and white pit bull, three days mine, snoozes at my knees, a sodden purple dinosaur plushie tucked under her arm. I named her Annie. Annie McCaffrey, Annie Oakley, Annie Jump Cannon, Annie Get Your Gun. Little Orphan Annie.

They estimate she’s about 4 years old. No one knows where she came from; she wasn’t surrendered to the shelter, but found and brought in, over 40 days ago now.

There is a thin, horizontal scar along the base of her throat, and several worn spots along the top of her neck. Her two rows of teats are still swollen, as from a recent whelping; she likes to have her tummy rubbed, and I think this, too, must elicit memories that make no sense to her now. Little piping cries. Little paws, little bodies.

Someone chained her up, and bred her, and left her to fend for herself.

She doesn’t hold it against me or, it seems, the world—that is the miracle of dogs.

Friday morning, the shelter’s veterinarian cut her uterus and ovaries from her body. Friday evening, she asked only to ride shotgun with me on the way home, so she could put her paws on my legs, and her head on her paws, and feel the sun on her face.


We slept on the couch. She couldn’t get comfortable; I remembered the day my right ovary, subsumed in a dermoid cyst, was excised from me, ten years ago this August. I wanted to give her a painkiller, but couldn’t until the morning. Once, in the wee hours, she put her chin on my neck, her warm body pressed against my side, her nose against my ear, and groaned softly. I wrapped my arms around her and said, I know, my girl, I know. I know.

There is so much she has never seen before. She is riveted by the television. She could not comprehend, at first, what to do with the Kong I lined with peanut butter. She watched me take every cup, bowl, and fork out of my dishwasher. She checked behind my propped-up full-length mirror for the whereabouts of the other black and white dog. Last night, in bed, she tackled my feet, concealed beneath my quilt, as some sort of lumpy invader; only when I lifted the blanket, wiggled my legs under it, lowered the blanket, rinse, repeat, at least three times, did she skeptically ease away.

Today she was enthralled by a fat bumblebee in the wilting pink azaleas.

Whoever taught her “sit” did it as a lark; she is having to learn it reliably, properly, for the first time. So we sit before we go out. We sit before we come inside. We sit to receive treats. We sit to meet new friends. We sit to watch the wary chickens through the sliding back door. We sit to learn to receive the world on its terms, in its time, and not in an overeager whirlwind of paws and tongue, which tends to put the world off.

She has nearly mastered “stay.” We have started on “relax,” and “heel,” and “leave it.” I think she’s starting to recognize her name. She is so smart, so eager to please, so snuggly and boisterous and loving. She has charmed all of her visitors.

It’s an old cliché, by now, to say that we are rescued by our rescues. But true is true. What some monster discarded, you could not take from me at the point of a gun.

And that is all to say:

I am okay; and:

You should probably unfollow me on Instagram.



  1. I love you, I love your dog – I can’t wait to meet her. (*every exclamation point possible*)

  2. Wow, now I wanna get a dog!!

  3. I am so thrilled you decided to rescue her! Your post made me tear up at the thought of you both healing and growing together. I’m sending you all the hugs.

  4. DaisyAtHome says:

    Tears are falling from my eyes onto the head of my curled up vizsla. I am very glad that you’ve found a companion.

    • Charlotte A. Cavatica says:

      <3 <3 Poor Errol!

      This morning I woke from a dream about D, and even in my dream, my own dream, I couldn't convince him to come back to me. I tried to put it aside but an hour later I was a sobbing wreck—and Annie was right there and ready with comfort. She cleaned off tears, pawed at me, pressed her head against mine.

      Dogs just recycle sadness into love. They're amazing and I'm not entirely convinced we, as a species, deserve them.

      • “Dogs just recycle sadness into love.” <– I wish a million times I could have come up with this, it's perfect. I'm right there with you about humanity not really being deserving of dogs, which makes them even more awesome because they would never even consider anything but life with us.

        How's that for a first post from a longtime reader? :)

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