It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up under some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly feeling of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.
We've been California bound for much of the year. Even though it might have seemed we were headed elsewhere, we were pointing our wheels toward California, where Scott's parents have a farmhouse and a couple acres of oranges they lost to the drought. We've been looking forward to making this stop for a while. We have a new album coming out in February (have we told you about that yet?) and we are so excited to release it. But we needed a little time and space to do so. Luckily Scott's mom and dad have historically liked having us around and with all of this temperate California weather, it seemed like a good place for this teeny tiny camper dwelling duo to land for a little while.
It's the same way with a year as it is with a road trip, I guess; at some point it will end. There is a sort of inevitability to it's ending and a natural order that takes over even if you're doing everything in your will to stop it. Every story needs an ending. You can feel it in your hands and you know it's coming when there are fewer pages to turn. Sometimes it's not that it ends that is surprising, but the way in which it happens.
We felt that way with Butter growing older. I think we started feeling her age before we knew what to call it or how to accept it. She was eight, by our best guess, and for a bullmastiff, that's geriatric. In a lot of ways she still acted like a young dog; even on her last day she chased a small dog around the dog park. But she was getting old, graying and getting a little slower. Her trip was ending and we could see that. But we didn't know she would go so soon, on an overcast day in Portland, Oregon, because she got a piece of bone stuck in her esophagus. We were in shock, and still are.