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My heart is broken with Oscar’s passing, even though I know he lived a full life, lived it well and was loved each day of his life entirely.
The house is quieter, a special energy is missing from our home, and the tears flow unexpectedly and fully.
However, my heart, while in mourning, is bigger than before Mr. Oscar came into my life in 2005 and now capable of loving more deeply, of this I know for sure because Oscar shared his long life with us.
Oscar came into my life unplanned, as I had just moved into my first purchased home in Portland and my mother heard from her local radio station about a litter of English black cocker spaniels, many still needing a home, and I, a companion.
Oscar and I met in March and his quiet demeanor, walking near me away from his litter mates as they romped drew me to him immediately. I would protect him. I would be his buddy. If anyone knew how to enjoy quiet, peaceful alone time, it would be us.
For four years, the two of us navigated it all together and at the time living in Portland, eventually moving to Pendleton, it wasn’t until late 2009 that Norman would enter our lives, and he would share his kind, patient disposition with Oscar to keep him company while I was at work teaching. Knowing Oscar had a four-legged buddy while I couldn’t be present eased my mind tremendously, even though Oscar would make it known from time to time, he preferred me.
A more loyal pup, as my mom pointed out, our family has not known and we have had wonderful, devoted dogs. Oscar rarely appears in photographs on the blog or Instagram because he always preferred to be by my side, knowing where I was, to ensure awareness and protection. He was protective not only of me, but of Norman as well, and for that I am grateful.
We walked everywhere together, even trained to walk two marathons and not once do I remember carrying him, even if Norman needed a break in mom’s arms. Fit, with an elegant gate carrying his svelte frame as though gliding on water, his trot always brings me to a smile and now to tears.
Cooking in the kitchen has been difficult as he was my sous chef, and my parents’ too if we were visiting them in Wallowa County, as he loved being underfoot to ensure any nibbles and taste tests were to be enjoyed. My first time back in the kitchen on the evening of his passing which was chosen as doing so is often the best therapy was incredibly hard and continues to be so. I will often be in the kitchen or going about daily activities singing the couple of songs I have made up which include both of my boys’ names, and upon realizing one of my beloved audience members (who kindly put up with my noise) wasn’t there, the tears fall in a deluge. I continue to sing these songs as a way to hold on to his memory.
I am grateful to our family vet for giving Oscar and our household of him, Norman and myself 15 more months together as last June (2020), Oscar underwent surgery to remove a couple of growths that likely were cancerous. Upon doing so, his health improved immediately. For that extra year+, a year in which I was home nearly all day due to remote work, I am beyond appreciative as not only was I able to be with him, have him by my side while I worked and pottered in the garden (although he preferred mostly to stand guard on the front porch), I was also able to be with him when he most needed me when his health and body began to fail him to help him live with dignity.
My boys are my children, as I know long-time TSLL readers understand. They give me the gift of companionship coupled with the freedom to be in my own company to live a life I am humbled to be able to live suited to my temperament. Oscar has been with me just as I turned 26. I don’t know what life is supposed to be without him in it, and while I know I will figure it out, thinking about the necessity to do so is not preferred. Oscar gave me the peace, as I share in my first book’s introduction, to discover my true temperament and honor my introversion and celebrate those gifts without shame. Norman continues to further this gift, and to both I am eternally grateful. But it was Oscar who began the healing.
Our last week together was the most loving, peaceful, celebratory time together I hoped it could be. I knew I could not do what I needed to do for Oscar’s best interest without my parents as they, only second to me, know Oscar and love him deeply. Oscar’s second home is my parents’ place in the country as whenever I would go on a trip to Europe, often my pre-trip was to ensure my boys were well situated and cared for, and that place was my parents’. He knew their house well, my mother’s garden, and the beauty of the fall days amongst the jewel-toned leaves provided a priceless comfort during the most difficult time in my immediate family’s life (the family being Oscar, Norman and myself).
The tears fall without warning and constantly, but I know he is at peace and knew love until the final moment – in my arms, my heart next to his, outdoors at a place he loved to explore surrounded by loving people, and I am forever grateful to my family’s vet and my parents for ensuring I could have this moment with him.
To you, TSLL readers, thank you for your kindness and celebration over the many years regarding my boys, and today, especially Oscar. Oscar often, by his own preference as I initially tried to include him in more images, but realized that would not be his way and I wanted him to live as he felt most comfortable, took the back seat right next to mom while Norman received most of the attention. So many of you always inquired about both of my boys which meant more than you know. All of this is to say, I knew, while this moment is incredibly personal and private and painful, I knew you would want to know. He deserves to be celebrated and the love needs to flow as that is often the best way to heal.
Now I am going to go snuggle with Norman, let the tears flow when they come and be grateful for my sweet, sweet, gentleman boy Oscar’s time (16 years and 8 months) in my and all of our family’s lives.
Always closest to Mom wherever we found ourselves while walking or skiing, I knew right where Oscar was and I am grateful he enjoyed my company.