My day started hopping/hobbling around (hoppiling?) with blood gushing out of my foot. I'd stepped on a sliver of glass on my way down to make first-day-of-school-in-Manchester-by-the-Sea cinnamon buns. I was trying to avoid bleeding on one of the many throw rugs I'd procured from Home Goods in a spree symptomatic of what I have started to call "granny square itis." It's a little-known home decor affliction.
Do you want to know why there was a sliver of glass ripe for trodding upon? Because my brother and I put a queen-sized mattress through the window in our unchaperoned attempt to get it upstairs to Toby's room. Why had two spatially-impaired Kinders attempted such a feat without the help of architect kinfolk? Because Tim was busy digging an 150' long 1' deep trench from the house to the street in order for corrupt Comcast to give us high speed internet without charging us $7000 to lay the cable.
Digging in Manchester-by-the-Sea is brutal. There are granite and massive pine tree roots everywhere. Why am I suddenly an expert on digging holes in Manchester, MA? Because my beautiful hound got hit by the train two weeks ago, and I had to dig a grave for his still-uncannily-gorgeous, dismembered self.
Why had I not cleaned up the broken window properly yesterday when it happened? Because I'd forgotten, and I'd already completed a major glass clean up job when Toby smashed a jar full of sea glass in the bathroom right before bed. Why had my graceful ballerina dropped that glass jar? Because their bathroom is so crammed with beauty products that it's impossible to move anything without catalyzing a small disaster. Why is the kids' bathroom so jammed? Because we moved on Saturday morning from a house with a lot of storage to a house with very little storage that is already packed to the gills with 54 years of my mother's still-prodigious-even-though-mightily-culled crap. Why did we leave our charmed life, beautiful studio and home in Philadelphia? Because my mother died suddenly on June 10, 2021, and I couldn't think of anything else to do about it.
Addressing my mother's death is too huge. I'll start with the dog. This is Lincoln playing with his cousin, Hazel in my mom's living room. The fact that he had learned to play with her was a miracle considering his territorial nature. My dog-owning style fell right in line with my parenting style when compared to that of my brother and his wife. In the name of fun and chaos, I was always more lenient with the kids. Curt and Jana were uncomfortable with letting Hazel out in the morning to run free with Lincoln. Lincoln would disappear, but he would always return exhilarated, desperate for water, his long, pink tongue dangling out of the side of his grinning mouth. After almost two years in Philly, perpetually on a leash, I loved letting him run. Two bouts with a skunk had put the kibosh on evening leash-free cavorting, so mornings were all he had.
In the end, Curt and Jana were right to be cautious. Lincoln had left in the morning and not returned. I'd called to my neighbor, Penny. She had seen him dashing across her land away from town, cars and danger. As I painted the bedrooms (coincidentally with the sister of Lincoln's previous owner-also named Liz.) I clung to Penny's hypothesis that he'd chased a deer and would come home eventually. I'd called the police after a couple of hours-no lost dogs reported. When he'd been gone for over 6 hours, it finally occurred to me to check the railroad tracks. I saw what I thought was him and again called the police. They investigated the site and advised me to leave the dog and to remember him as he was when he was alive. Letting the experts handle his corpse seemed like a viable option.
I was so ashamed to tell Liz that my optimistic negligence had killed her dead brother's dog. Liz is still reeling from the loss of Karl. I'd already spoken to Tim. He had told me that the kids would want to have a grave to visit to say good-bye. I'd responded that if he'd been with me I could recover the dog and bury him, but I could not do it on my own. Liz's mom wanted us to retrieve Lincoln's body so he could be cremated and his ashes could be with Karl's. Squelching my natural tendency towards avoidance and denial, Liz and I went down to the tracks and collected him. In an uncharacteristic explosion of rage, Liz screamed at a nosy neighbor who suggested we should get off of the railroad tracks.
I started his grave in the middle of the night. I finished it in the morning. Liz had to lower Lincoln into it. I could not handle it. After all of the exercising, the trainers, the behaviorist and the Prozac, keeping the dog safe by curtailing his bad behavior was my life. Pottery making in my new, gorgeous studio consumed the rest of my time. So here I am in my tiny home town, suddenly rendered identity-less. I'm still a mom, but my kids feel bewildered and unheard. My husband is doing his best to manage all of it/us. Right before we took the back to school pics of the kids, the cat shat on the living room couch to convey her displeasure in the accommodations. I really don't know what I'm doing here, and the worst part is I can't ask my mom.