I Ask Claire How I Should Live My Life

Claire on the Washington Coast

I love Mary Oliver’s poem to her dog Percy (both deceased now):

I Ask Percy How I Should Live My Life

Love, love, love, says Percy

And hurry as fast as you can

along the shining beach, or the rubble, or the dust

Then, go to sleep.

Give up your body heat, your beating heart.

Then, trust.

My friend Dan recently lost his beloved dog, Mario. He knew I recently lost Claire and we exchanged pictures. Of the ones I sent him, his favorite was one of Claire behind me with her head resting on my shoulder looking ahead as we drove across country. He reminded me that they are still with us and that Claire is still looking over my shoulder. I loved that and found it to be very comforting. Yesterday I thought of Mary Oliver’s poem and decided to ask Claire how she thinks I should live.

She agreed with Percy-

Love, love, love. And then she added:

Forgive and forget and then love some more. Do not keep score.

Be loyal. Pay attention. Delight in everything.

Expect the best in everybody and be surprised when they disappoint you.

Keep your heart open and never stop taking risks.

And then she reassured me that I am lovable just because I am me and because of my mere existence…and because I love animals.

She assured me that I gave her a good life and that I was her “person” (as all dogs have a special person)

She agreed that she will always be watching over my shoulder…guiding me to be more playful…

and everloving…

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