Goodbye is hard.

Come the end of August I say goodbye to my little doodle-dog Bebe. My wife and I adopted him nearly three years ago from Peace of Mind Rescue in Pacific Grove, a rescue whose mission is to help senior dogs of senior citizens who can no longer care for them find new homes. Bebe was seven when he came to us, and has been a loyal, loving companion ever since. He is the sweetest dog imaginable.  I will miss him dearly. He’s next to me now–as he always is–inseparable and so willing to be loved.


What I hate about my situation is the unilateral nature of the decision to end our marriage.  There was no “we” in this decision–as I came to understand there was no “we” in our marriage.  There was a “you” and a “me” but never “us.”  My wife’s uncompromising sense of independence and identity separation could not yield to the idea of togetherness.  Nevertheless for one person to up-end the life of another, unilaterally, without discussion, without any attempt to find another way, is a moral failing.  I lose the entire life I have built both in committing to this marriage and have built in San Francisco.  I’m losing my dog.  When she first informed me she intended to dissolve our marriage my wife said we could share the dog–an impracticable and unworkable suggestion that was a twist of the knife, knowing that this could never be accomplished. I have asked that on the day I leave the house forever that both my wife and Bebe be away.  No painful farewells on the doorstep. I don’t know whether I could emotionally bear seeing Bebe again.  In time he will stop looking around the house for the missing man, and I don’t want to rekindle his hope.


I ascribe to the philosophical assertion that life is suffering, either in our own lives or in the lives of others around us.  Life is difficult. These are incontrovertible. Because life’s difficulties are undeniable, we have a moral necessity to create an antidote to these difficulties.  Kindness.  Compassion.  Responsibility.  Commitment.  Integrity.  Love. We can always make things worse, but we can also make things better.  There’s reason for hope. But to make someone’s else life difficult, even miserable, to achieve personal self-centered ambitions, is wrong.  A religious person might call it sinful. Who gets to define the boundaries of pain in a relationship? My wife said to me, “you’re a good man.” Not good enough.

I realize these musings aren’t helpful to forget about what might have been, what should have been. My wife tells me, “happiness is a choice.”  The power of positive thinking. Fake it ’til you make it.  I believe there is happiness on the other side of this breakdown, this failure to sustain a workable, even loving, marriage.

I will still miss Bebe.



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  1. Your roundedness and candor, even during this time of major changes, bodes well for the next chapter of your life adventure Niland


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