Bitten By the Travel Bug

A friend of mine and I were discussing our love of travel, of seeing something new and different, when she said,

All it takes for me to book a flight is two and a half glasses of wine and access to southwest.com.

Make mine red, please. I love this more than I can articulate. 🙂

Let’s go … I’m ready!

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Germs on a Plane

People magazine is saying this week that yes, flying is hazardous to your health: “three different incoming flights at two U.S. airports were held on the tarmac [due to] sick passengers.” That’s pretty shocking, frankly.

This has been a bête noire of mine for years—if you’re sick, stay home, dagnabbit, don’t bring your cold onto an airplane and share it with me!—and I’m glad a popular national magazine is talking about it:

“It’s important to get your immune system in good shape before you travel,” the magazine’s expert says. “Rest up in advance so you don’t arrive to your flight exhausted and stressed, eat healthily and stay hydrated leading up to travel.”

This is important, and should not be underestimated. Start a slow-down before you leave so that you’re rested. It’s your best defense against an errant germ on the airplane—which could ruin a long-planned dream vacation if you run into that germ on your out-bound flight.

What Kind of Mischief Is This? Unethical Property Rental Management in Murfreesboro, Tennessee

I haven’t been involved in Murfreesboro’s rental market since 1990, when I was a newly divorced single mom renting a small apartment in a complex across the street from my son’s grammar school. Since then, Middle Tennessee has become one of the fastest-growing regions in the country, and in the last five years or so (I’m guessing), the need for rental property (driven not just by MTSU students anymore) has apparently far outstripped the available properties.

Perhaps that explains the experience we (meaning my family, comprised of my son Jesse and his wife Katie, and my husband Gerry and I) had with Stones River Property Management (SRPM). Jesse and Katie had graduated from Tennessee Tech with master’s degrees in education in May 2017 (and had gotten engaged the next week), and when Katie obtained a position at Oakland High School (assistant band director) in early August, she moved in with Gerry and I in Murfreesboro and began searching for a place to live.

This, we quickly learned, was a dog-eat-dog market. Homes were rented out from under her, for example. They had to apply to be a renter with various property management companies, and pay for the privilege ($50 to $100) of doing so. Nonrefundable! It was all very rush-rush, high pressure. School was about to start, and we felt pressed to find a place quickly.

Finally, Katie found a little home on Sherborne Court (in the Evergreen Farms subdivision) managed by Stones River Property Management. It had apparently sold for $168K just a couple months before (see Zillow).

It wasn’t ideal, but it would do. They moved in on 18 August 2017, discovering right away that the carpet hadn’t been cleaned, nor had the home been painted. There were nail holes all over the walls, even though the lease specified no nails were to be used. The walls were clearly marked by the furniture of the previous tenants. It was a mess.

But they needed a place.

There Were Little Problems

From the beginning, SRPM was not easy to get along with. If a call was made to them, it was not returned until several other calls had been made. An early problem: a double rent payment was deducted from their checking account (it had been set up as auto-pay) and when this was brought to SRPM’s attention, they balked at refunding the second payment. This was a young couple setting up housekeeping; they did not have the cash flow to front SRPM an extra $1200. After repeated demands, the money was refunded.

Katie and Jesse quickly learned that if they took a shower upstairs, it set off the smoke alarm positioned just outside the bathroom. This was reported to SPRM, but got no response. We assumed SPRM was aware of this issue since there were two smoke alarms a couple feet apart in the hall (one electric and original to the house, one battery-operated installed later, perhaps due to the shower/smoke problem). Like previous tenants (we assume), they simply disabled the alarm that was set off by steam.

Yes, I am rolling my eyes.

In April of 2018—after Jesse had left for 9 weeks of Navy boot camp—the air conditioning unit quit working. It was not comfortable in the house. Katie made calls to SPRM and was finally put in touch with the owner of the home directly to solve the problem (which makes me wonder what the point of paying a property management company is). The owner made arrangements to have a repairman come out. Because Katie was in school, Gerry and I met this gentleman at the Sherborne Court home. He quickly determined that the unit was in such bad shape it would have to be replaced, saying to me, “This unit looks like it’s never been maintenanced.” (House was built in 2003.) Indeed it did. So Katie did without a/c for another couple days while the owner was consulted and a new unit procured. During that time, SPRM scolded Katie, telling her it was probably her fault that the unit had to be replaced … but no, I saw it, it was rusted out.

A few weeks later, a light bulb in the upstairs bathroom began smoking (yes, smoking!), and though Katie called SPRM three times, those calls were never returned. She removed the faulty bulb from the socket strip of four bulbs but gave up trying to contact them.

Then, the Move

Jesse and Katie had let SPRM know Jesse had accepted a position with the US Navy. They thought they’d be moving out when Jesse finished boot camp; but as it turns out they ended up fulfilling the entire 12-month lease. However, the last six weeks of it, the house was unoccupied. The Navy came and loaded the furniture on 13 July (the tractor trailer didn’t move until Monday or Tuesday).

The lease was up on 31 July, so I got busy and hired a service to clean the house. They came on Wednesday, 25 July. They have experience with move-out cleaning in Middle Tennessee; when they were finished and we did the walk-through, they pointed out one overhead fixture that had a bulb out. We talked about how much work the oven had been and about how the hard water in Middle Tennessee makes cleaning sinks and toilets difficult. They even took before-and-after photos of the sinks and toilets. They reminded me that in the rental business, “normal wear and tear” is expected. The house looked good.

I let Katie know the house was clean, she let SRPM know, and a date (Monday, 30 July 2018) was set for the official move-out walk-through, during which we would turn over the keys. Katie and I both had a copy of SPRM’s “Tenant Move-Out Instructions.” Here’s their list, verbatim, of “items you should thoroughly clean before moving”:

  • Floors-
    sweep wood floors
    vacuum carpets and rugs (shampoo of necessary)
    mop kitchen and bathroom floors
  • Dust and clean: walls, baseboards, closets, ceilings and built-in shelves
  • PLEASE DO NOT PUTTY NAIL AND SCREW HOLES.
  • Kitchen cabinets, counter tops and sink, range, and oven (inside and out)
  • Refrigerator- clean inside and out. Make sure no food is left behind!
  • Bathtubs, showers, toilets, sinks and plumbing fixtures
  • Doors, windows, and window coverings
  • Yard-Make sure grass is cut and weeding done.
  • Replace A/C filters, light bulbs, smoke detector batteries, etc.

(Since their lease agreement clearly states that no nails are to be put into the walls, that item in ALL CAPS seems odd. But whatever. Jesse and Katie used stick-on plastic hooks to hang a few things; when they moved out, they left them, as they interpreted the move-out instructions to indicate the owner preferred to deal with the wall.)

The instructions also contain comments in bold regarding the move-out inspection:

All move-out inspections will take place during normal business hours and will be scheduled by the landlord. Inspections will not be scheduled until we the home [sic] is completely empty and you are ready to turn over keys. You have a right to be present during this inspection. You must call our office a week in advance to coordinate with our inspector. If you do not request to be present at the inspection, we will conduct it within 4 days of move-out and mail you the results. REMINDER: Your failure to attend a mutually agreed upon move-out inspection waives the tenant’s right to contest any damages found by the landlord upon inspection.

Katie had informed SRPM that Gerry and I would be present at the walk-through and would turn over the keys at that time. The gentleman who handles the walk-through inspections for SPRM called me the morning of Friday, 27 July 2018, to confirm for Monday at 10:00am; he gave me his name and phone number. (All of these dates and times are in my daybook, because they were things I was handling.)

On Sunday, 29 July 2018, Gerry and I drove by the house with batteries and light bulbs to do our own walk-through. This is when we discovered that two of the three smoke alarms are electric; we tested the battery in the third alarm, and it was operational. The burned-out light bulb that had been pointed out to us was, it turns out, just loose; tightened, it worked just fine. We flipped on all the other lights and no bulbs were burned out. The socket in the upstairs bathroom that had smoked was empty; but SRPM had been informed of that, and hiring an electrician is not a part of the tenant’s duty.

But when I went out to the garage to get the package of return air filters—oops! I’d forgotten that the housecleaners didn’t do garages. There was a random rag, three or four half-empty container of garage-y things like windshield-wiper fluid, and an old broom … and the thing needed to be swept. All the “stuff” went into the trash can, and I swept, leaving the pile of dirt in the center of the garage; when we came back for the walk-through, we’d come early and finish up. And then, after sweeping, I took the package of extra return-air filters (three of them) into the house and propped it against the wall at the foot of the stairs (the vent is in the stairwell), as a gesture of neighborliness: See? We’ve left you three brand-new filters!

Walk-Through Day

On Monday, 30 July 2018, we arrived around 8:30am. We’d brought a dustpan and a big push broom to give the garage one more going over. Then we pulled weeds.

The walk-through guy arrived with his camera just before 10am; he was cordial. As we approached the house, we told him that we’d hired a cleaning service, that we’d done a walk-through with them and again ourselves, that we were satisfied that the house was in good condition. When we went in, his first words were, “Oh, yeah, this looks great, this is good.” He moved rapidly around the house, opening the oven, the fridge, turning on lights, all the while saying, “This is good.”

I pointed out to him that when Jesse and Katie took possession of the house, it was obvious to us that the house had not been painted. Closets had crayon marks in them, and there were nails and nail holes all over. I showed him the furniture marks in the downstairs bedroom; I told him Jesse had taken photos of all these things when they took possession. He said he didn’t doubt this.

He pulled out some paperwork, got our names, asked where we would like the check sent (we gave him our address), asked us to sign that we’d been present at the walk-through. Then—and I didn’t pick it up at the time, because I tend to believe in the good in people—he said, “I’m just going to take some photos, you all can go on.” In other words, he dismissed us; he didn’t want us around for the photography. And I still don’t have a copy of the document I signed for him.

Preliminary Security Deposit Statement

It’s dated 31 July 2018, and arrived at our home on Friday, 3 August 2018. It itemized what SRPM was going to deduct from the $1195 deposit:

$142.56 for maid service
$50.00 to remove stick-on hooks
$50.00 to replace 5 bulbs (!)
$115.00 for carpet cleaning
$30.00 to paint a bedroom door

This made me so ineffably angry that I set the thing aside; I would have to calm down before I could discuss it with SRPM. (The walk-through guy had told us to expect to—ahem—discuss this statement with the office.)

To calm myself, I took a look at the lease Jesse and Katie had signed. This is what it says about the deposit:

SECURITY DEPOSIT: Lessee agrees to deposit $1195 with Lessor as security for Lessee’s fulfillment of the conditions of this agreement. Said deposit will be held by Lessor in a separate escrow account at Franklin Synergy Bank. Deposit will be returned to Lessee within a reasonable time after the premises is vacated if:

  1. a) Rental premises is not damaged and is left in original condition, normal wear and tear expected [sic]; and
  2. b) Lease term or any automatic extension has expired or agreement has been terminated by both parties; and
  3. c) All monies due Lessor by Lessee have been paid

Deposit may be applied by Lessor to satisfy all or part of Lessee’s obligations and such act shall not prevent Lessor from claiming damages in excess of the deposit. Lessee agrees not to apply the deposit to any rent payment, and also agrees to pay $150 for re-keying locks if all keys are not returned.

Lessee has the right to be present with Lessor or Lessor’s representative at a scheduled move-out inspection during normal business hours to determine if there are any damages above and beyond normal wear and tear. Lessee further has the right to request a time for this mutual move-out inspection. The time of the move-out inspection will be set by Lessor and said inspection will occur on the day Lessee has completely vacated the premises, given up possession of the premises, and has returned all means of access to the premises; or within (4) days after doing the aforementioned. Lessee’s failure to attend a mutually agreed upon scheduled move-out inspection constitutes as Lessee’s waiver of the right to contest any damages found as a result of Lessor’s move-out inspection. (Emphasis mine.)

So. It appeared to me that Jesse and Katie had done everything required. This was clearly noted to be a security deposit to cover any damages to the property. It was not a cleaning deposit. Cleaning after each tenant and making the house attractive to the next tenant is simply a cost of doing business. A business expense.

On Tuesday, 7 August 2018 I called the office at 9:48am and left a message. It was not returned. Instead, they texted Katie and told her that they wouldn’t talk to me. Never mind that I had been at the walk-through. Now they were standing on ceremony. Jesse took over.

Oh, My Blood Pressure

That afternoon (the 7th), Jesse called and—you guessed it—left a message. He left messages the next day. He finally received a call back on the 9th around midmorning. SRPM was asking for the invoice showing we’d paid a cleaning service. Jesse requested that they provide the photos taken on the day of the walk-through. The young woman handling the call said she’d have to ask her boss if she could do so. She also told Jesse that the sinks still had hard water spots and the oven was still dirty. But I had seen those things with my own eyes during the walk-through, and they were clean.

Additionally, of course, anyone who does business in this county knows how hard the water is. Within the first month of moving in to our home, we installed a water softener—but there was no water softener at Sherborne Court. So the results of hard water buildup (again, the house having been built in 2003) is, to my mind, normal wear and tear. And we had those before-and-after photos to show how much work had been done on them. Jesse sent them to SRPM. They were continuing to stall on sending him the photos.

A lawyer friend had told us that we should simply file a claim in general sessions court. It would cost us $45 to file and we could appear without a lawyer—but as an LLC, SRPM would have to hire counsel. “They’ll roll over,” he said. I’d looked at the SRPM page on Yelp—one-star review across the board. Jesse and I discussed it.

Three days went by with no response from SRPM. On the 12th I asked Jesse if he’d heard anything. Nada. He left his contact at SRPM a voice message saying he was prepared to take legal action. Still nothing.

On the 14th, Jesse got an email with a couple dozen photos SRPM said were taken at the walk-through. He forwarded them to me, beginning his email with “I guess the garage didn’t get cleaned?” I was puzzled until I looked at the photos. Because tucked among those photos—most of which showed nothing I hadn’t already seen—was a photo of the garage with the rags and the half-empty bottles! This was a photo taken several days before the walk-through. Perhaps even taken before the house had been cleaned—there were a couple other photos I strongly questioned—but I’d stand up and testify in a court of law about the garage photo.

SRPM was trying to defraud us for a lousy $387.56.

Seriously. I was so mad I was shaking. Jesse was mad too.

Not With a Bang But a Whimper

But then something happened. The next morning—after receipt of the photos but before Jesse had responded with the news that we knew they were trying to pull a fast one—his contact from SRPM called and said that the company had just magically, inexplicably decided to refund the full amount.

So the story’s over. I am grateful we don’t have to go to court over this but I feel we were poorly used. The runaround that we were put through feels like something that is well-practiced at SRPM. I wonder how often they’ve taken advantage of people checking out of one of their properties. As noted previously, this is a big college town with lots of students renting apartments, condos, and homes in the community, and SRPM has a significant foothold here.

That’s why I’m telling this story. I’m posting it on Facebook and I’m posting it on my personal blog. I’m going to talk about it on Twitter. I’m considering talking to the folks at Housing & Residential Life at MTSU, to see if they are interested in knowing about unethical landlords in Murfreesboro. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.

In My Parents’ House Were Many Books …

One was The Family of Man, which contained the photos from an exhibition (organized by world-famous photographer Edward Steichen) at the Museum of Modern Art in 1955. This book was, in fact, the official book of the exhibition. I don’t know if my parents went to New York to see the exhibit (how I wish I’d asked!) or if they took me (I would have been very young)  … but I know that as a child I loved that book.

I still have it. I asked for it when I left home at eighteen.

This book is a dear friend.

Copyright 1955.

And I can tell you that the book influenced me in profound ways, that I looked at it over and over and over. As a kid. As a teen. As a young adult. The people in the photos are, truly, as familiar to me as my own family. (Oh, but hey—they are.)

I have wondered if my travel-lust has its roots in this book. And I have wondered if my anti-racism has its roots in this book. My husband says it is because these people were different from me that I was fascinated and perhaps that is true. But the lesson here is still the same: current thinking to teach anti-racism is that we must see race, not ignore it (as we were taught fifty years ago—to be colorblind).

The softcover, pictured here, has sold 4 million copies and it is still in print—so I can’t be the only one who has a thing for this book.

 

In Airport Security, Keep an Eye On Your Stuff!

This article came across my desk a few weeks ago and it got my attention:

As travellers sling their wallets, purses, laptops, smartphones, keys and other valuables into the grey plastic tray heading into an airport security scanner, many have a slight frisson of fear. What if you’re held up and then find on the other side that someone has raided your tray?

There’s a lot going on in the situation cited here, but the most important part is that airport security did not treat this theft as a high priority—which it should have. So be aware that airport security is not keeping an eye on your expensive laptop, and don’t hesitate to speak up if you see something happening.

The security line is a madhouse, for sure.

If you’re traveling with someone, one of you can hang back and wait with the majority of your possessions that need to go through the scanner while the other goes ahead through the body scanner. Now you’ve got one person on each side. If security personnel try to urge you through, remind them about the posted “Don’t let your belongings out of your sight” signs. You’re doing what you should do.

If you’re traveling alone, it will be better to be ahead of your possessions, waiting for them to come through, than behind them. This situation has always made me nervous, and I also almost always am traveling with a laptop. The best advice—and it’s hardly helpful—is to keep a sharp eye out.

That said, there’s one more very important protection that would have made a big difference to the denouement of this particular story: back up your computer before you leave home! The technology exists: use it.

 

Bean the Brave

10 January 2018 (Obituary)
Today we had to let Beanie go. Our hearts are broken, but we couldn’t bear to let her suffer any more than she had. She is stardust, she is golden, she is of the Tribe of Tiger, she is Bean the Ferocious, Bean the Fierce. Sing it.

On the prowl in the iris bed.

27 January 2018
Bean has visited me two nights in a row. The first night I saw her above me, looking to see if I was awake, her beautiful eyes big and round. Last night I felt her beside me in her usual place. I put my hand down to touch her, and when I did, she changed her position, just a little. Her fur was so soft. I know it’s just in my dreams. But they were so vivid.

• • •

27 July 2018
My little cat got sick last summer, right about this time. That is, she seemed fine, but she began to lose weight. We took her to the vet, did a lot of tests, gave her pills and vitamins and special food. She was only twelve years old, but she’d always had little ailments—a cough; a tendency to puke—and now she was wasting away.

In November I had written, “She hates all these pills. She is no longer well groomed; she doesn’t groom. She eats, but not enough. She loves a food flavor one day and won’t touch it the next. I spend a lot of time trying to coax her to eat, trying to find the thing that will, frankly, keep her alive. Her appointment for an ultrasound is still three weeks away (December 6). And really, how likely is it that her wasting away is something simple that can be fixed and she lives another five years? It’s torture. I don’t want her to go but I don’t know how much more either of us can take.”

I was trying to prepare myself.

She came to me in 2006, rescued by my son. She’d been a neglected, lonely indoor cat from kittenhood. She was terrified of the outside, but I had two older cats who spent their days lying on the deck in the sun, and she’d watch them from the glass door. So I’d carry her out there, and eventually she loved it. Her name was Precious then, a perfectly ridiculous name for a feline as cranky as she generally was, and I renamed her Bean. She grew right into it.

And she became My Cat. Wherever I was in the house, she was there. When I was working (I’m an editor) she was most often asleep on the desk.

Daily. This.

Or sitting in the office window for a change of view.

She preferred open, and would paw at a closed window until I opened it.

Or keeping me company in the kitchen.

She could watch me from this spot.

Wherever I settled for a moment, she would show up and settle in too.

My little helper.

If I went out into the backyard, Bean was there. I never really thought about it at the time, but she was my shadow. My constant companion.

No matter how late I worked, she stayed with me, but when I went to bed, she slept right beside me, nestled up against my hip. I could put my hand down beside me at any point during the night, and feel her. We had a routine: I brushed my teeth, and she had a drink from the china bowl in the bathroom. I’d get into bed and she’d visit the cat box. When I was settled, she’d walk up the steps I’d put at the foot of the bed for her, and get into her spot. But first, a good grooming.

Bean on her favorite blanket.

She didn’t like to be held. She would tolerate your picking her up to, say, feed her. And sometimes she’d deign to sit in your lap. But no holding. No cuddling. She was tiny, but she’d rear back and swat you—wap-wap-wap-wap-wap—if you insisted on holding her. She packed quite a wallop.

• • •

I waited a long time to try to write this, but I needed to say it while I still remember everything. But doing it is breaking my heart all over again. I miss my little girl cat.

Watching birds from the deck.

She loved Gerry.

Actually, she liked him best. 🙂

She loved our bedroom; it was her sanctuary. She liked lying on my shoes.

Bean on her throne.

She had beautiful markings (a monkey on her back!) … and a whimsically curled tail.

See the monkey?

She liked lying on her back with her legs in the air. And as prissy as she was, she loved a good roll in the dirt.

Rite of Spring.

She chased squirrels.

Here she has the squirrel (ahem) treed.

She often followed the sun up the staircase, one step at a time.

I have almost as many photos of Bean on the stairs as I do of her on my desk.

• • •

Oh, Beanie, if I’d known it was the last time you’d sit in the windowsill, walk across my desk, sleep next to me … I would have stopped what I was doing.

• • •

12 January 2018
We got out of the house yesterday, had dinner with close friends Jan and Lisa. We met Jan at her office before going to the restaurant and she asked, “Do you have a cold?” I’m fine, I said.

She looked hard at me for a second. I’ve known Jan for more than twenty years. “You don’t look fine. Are you OK?” she asked again, and I hesitated. No, I said, I’m not OK, and she understood right away. It is good to have friends who really know you and get it and give good hugs. We had a nice slow dinner, then, and were home in bed by nine o’clock. I rested my head on Bean’s favorite blanket. She checked on me early this morning. I know I was dreaming but I felt her presence, coming up to look at my face, as she always did around 3am, 4am.

10 January 2018
“What happened?” our wonderful vet asked, shocked, as I was sobbing in the exam room. We’d just been texting not twenty-four hours earlier about Bean’s status, and I was hopeful. (I was always hopeful. I was always fooling myself; I knew where this was going.) I’ll never tell our dear vet how that question broke me even further. Bean was supposed to have more time; the vet was surprised. But for days—the things I forgot to report—Bean had cried when I picked her up. And since she could no longer get up onto the furniture, she had to be picked up. I think she was in more pain than she was letting on. And I think the progression of the cancer was exhausting her. The day before her morning routine—get up with me, wait by the door until I opened it, walk from the bedroom to the dining room in the dark, jump up onto the dining room table and wait for me to bring food—had been the same, although she’d already begun that funny walk where she couldn’t always get up on her hind toes. As that day progressed she was walking more and more flat-footed. I told myself that she was always worse in the evening, at the end of the day. I told myself a lot of things to keep from thinking about the end. To keep from despairing.

On the day of her death, though, she did not get up with me. She was sleeping by my pillow, and she didn’t move when I got up, though she watched me. Later I checked on her, and she’d moved from the pillow end of the bed to the foot of it. Another check and she’d moved onto the cedar chest. Another check and she was on the floor by the door, so when I opened it, she began wobbling down the hall. When I put her on the table to eat, she ate like we’d been starving her, so it wasn’t that she had no appetite; she just didn’t have the energy or couldn’t face the pain of walking. (Although I’d come immediately back to the bedroom and given her the pain med, even before feeding Laddie and Spot.)

But there was one other thing that told me we were at the end, and this happened during the night. Her tail. She always had it in strict control. She could pull it out of my hand if she wanted to (it was soft; I liked to touch it). She always knew where it was. When she was on the bed, it was wrapped around her. But in the last day or two, it wasn’t wrapped, it was stretched out, as if she didn’t have the energy to wrap it. I think this and the inability to walk correctly were connected. Some tumor was pressing on a nerve, perhaps. The most telling thing, the thing that made me know it was time, was that during that last night, I found her tail tangled into my arm a couple times. (I always woke up a couple times every night and felt where she was and then dropped back to sleep, knowing “all’s right.” She’d move from next to my hip to next to my pillow, and back. And she’d change the way she was facing, toward me or away from me.) But this night she stayed by my pillow—again, I think it was too hard for her to move—and she’d shift a little, but her tail had to fend for itself. It was completely limp, lying across my upper arm, or caught in the crook of my elbow. Soft, that beautiful tail, but utterly limp. That’s when I knew. That’s when I knew.

And I’m thinking of this answer now, while I’m clearer of mind, not while I am distraught and broken. When our vet asked, “What happened?” I couldn’t even rub two thoughts together as I stood there covered in cat pee, sobbing because I knew I had to let Bean go and it was the very. Last. Thing. I wanted to do. I did not want to say good-bye to my cat that day. I thought we had a little more time.

I know, also, that our vet’s shock came from a place of love for Bean. I’d watched her touch Bean and love Bean and let Bean be pissed off in a cat tower and—instead of making her move to the exam table—simply went to the cat tower to check her. Bean had a lot of personality, she was extraordinary, and people who knew cats knew that.

Giving me the stink-eye for bringing her here.

We tried so hard to keep her here with us.

17 January 2018
The vet called today, a week later, to let me know her ashes are ready. Later G said, “Do you want me to go in and get the ashes?” and I said I can do it. That I’m OK. And then I began to cry and said, “Well, I was OK until right now.” I told him I still have trouble going into the bedroom at night, to go to bed, because she would always be there, or be going with me.

I told him I’d stumbled on some photos in my phone that I hadn’t yet downloaded, taken on her last day, and I found them upsetting. She looked so sad, so worn out … And he said, “Just imagine her now, a week later,” and I began to sob. I can’t look at those pictures right now. And I can’t imagine another week of her suffering. (Though as sick as she was, her grooming, her tenacity, and her litter box etiquette were impeccable. She maintained her dignity and her personality to the end.)

But I know I made the right decision to let her go when I did. I know she isn’t suffering now, and knowing that is a lifted weight, as much as it hurts.

And even that lifted weight made me feel so awful.

• • •

A friend of mine makes a habit of rescuing greyhounds, even though, as you might imagine, they don’t always live long past the point of rescue. So she has experience with making these decisions. Waiting. Or letting them go on. And she talks with others about it. She talked with me about it. “Lots of people have regrets about waiting too long,” she told me. “No one ever thinks they let them go too soon. Not after they’ve had time to think about it.” This comforts me, Darcie. Thank you.

• • •

So we let her go. I am still sad. And the simplest facts are: I’m self-employed. I work from home. Bean followed me everywhere. So everywhere I look … she’s not there, and I’m sad about it. I could just weep for longing.