Grave Digging

Today I dug my first grave.

I was not digging my own grave – like everyone does in the movies – but was, rather, digging the grave of our 15 year old German Shorthaired Pointer named Willie – or as I called him, “Old Timer”.

When I got home he was already in a body bag in the back of my mom’s truck. I went upstairs, put on some jeans, laced up my boots, grabbed a shovel, went outside, and began digging. We (my brother and I) made slow progress at first because the ground was rough and there were rocks everywhere, but eventually we got it dug. We lifted Willie’s body from the bed of the truck, gently set it in the grave and and slowly began covering it all up.

As I was digging this grave I could not help think, and here are some things I observed:

1. Life is irreversible. Once you take your dog to the vet and have him ‘put down’ you cannot take it back. There is no way to breathe life back into them.  Or when someone you love dies there is no way you can give life back to them. It is all spent. Once life is gone from something there is no way to bring it back. It is not like a salamander’s tail that grows back when it is cut off. Once it is cut off there is no way to restore it (from a human stand point at least).

2. There are, as far as I understand it, two types of burial:

(a) The burying of things that are dead or useless (bodies, bones, ashes, garbage) – these are never dug up, except by archeologists thousands of years later.

(b) The burying of things that have intrinsic and significant value (treasure, time capsules and seeds) – these are meant to be dug back up or to burst through the surface one day.

3. When you dig a grave you remember more completely and throughly. A funeral, where you don’t have to dig the grave, is fairly easy because you simply lower the body in a hole, say your respects and walk away. When you have a dig the grave, however, the process makes death so much harder because with each shovel full you remember another thing you loved about the one you are soon to bury. Then as you heap dirt on top of their corpse it is as if you are abandoning them forever because you recognize that their physical presence in this world is spent and all that is left is their memory.

4. Death is not that hard for me to deal with, but absence is. (Already I’m having a hard time deal with the lack of random barking around the house)

What have you learned from death?


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About Jeremiah Dowling

I write poetry and take crazy pictures in an Orange Chair all over the United States while reading amazing books.

2 responses to “Grave Digging”

  1. Jofelyn M. Khapra says :

    So sad . I’m so sorry for your loss. I love my dog to bits. I can’t bear to think of his passing.

    • thestorymovement says :

      Thank you for your comment! It feels weird because he has been in our house hold for 15 years, but I still have my other dog so it isn’t as weird as it would be without any dog… either way it was a new experience for me.

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