Reflections, Black Dogs, and Do-Overs

I was on my computer with the large screen and happened to look closely at this photo, my favorite of my sweet Sophie, gone since New Year’s Eve. I noticed something I don’t think I had before; as I studied the image I realized that there was a reflection of me in Sophie’s eye. I caught my breath and felt one of those heart tugs, missing my girl. This was something special, a gift of love from Sophie.

Sophie was always totally focused on me, following me everywhere I went, wanting nothing more than to be with her human. I often wondered what she was thinking as she gazed intently at me, and I’ve decided it was just pure love emanating from her being at all times. I’ve never known a more truly gentle and loving dog. I think of that meme that says something like ‘I want to be the person my dog thinks I am.’ That’s it exactly- she only saw the good in me and the love just radiated from her soulful eyes.

Sophie sat at my feet as I learned one of the most challenging pieces I’ve ever played, Black Dog by composer Scott McAllister, a wonderfully wild piece in which the clarinet is supposed to rock out, sounding like an electric guitar. It is tradition to wear a spiked dog collar in performance, and I decided to go all the way with the character. I dedicated the final performance this past Thursday to my own black dog, wearing her tags on my collar. There is a section that is beautifully melodic, soaring up to a sustained high Ab. At that moment on stage I lifted my bell into the air and sang through my clarinet with all my heart, I love you, Sophie, I miss you. Thank you. I swear I felt her with me.

This has been a very full couple of weeks; losing Sophie, starting a new semester, traveling to Tampa to present at a conference and do a recruiting event, performing Black Dog twice with our Wind Symphony- the final performance being at the Alabama Music Educators Conference- rehearsing for an upcoming Chamber Trio recital next week, and just a lot of other ‘stuff’. I have very much felt like a candle burning at both ends, something I do on a regular basis. Marley enjoying the top deck view…

I enjoy being busy, but it takes its toll on me if I don’t make the time to recharge at home in the peace of Chez Gainey. It finally caught up with me this morning; we woke up before 5am as we do each Saturday morning to prepare for Dan’s early yoga class at the Y. Usually I spring out of bed; this morning I felt like lead and couldn’t make myself crawl out from under the cozy covers for quite a while. I finally got up, took care of the animals, and had a little breakfast. A rainy, dreary day…

At that point I knew I needed to listen to my body and allow myself what Dan and I call a ‘do-over’ morning, one in which you crawl back to bed for a while and start the day again. That’s just what I did. As Dan left to teach his class he kissed me goodbye and said with a bit of yoga humor, “Nama-stayed in bed!” I love my man.

Marley joined me for some quiet time in bed listening to the sound of the pouring rain and gentle thunder. While I miss being at yoga, I’m glad that I listened to my body and took this time to rest and recharge- something I’m trying to be wise enough to do more often. One day at a time.


4 thoughts on “Reflections, Black Dogs, and Do-Overs

  1. Denise this was such a wonderful post – it had news and action, laughs (the incongruity of your elegant dress with the dog collar) and emotion and… I never met Sophie in person but through your posts and photos I feel like I knew her. And reading all these wonderful words brought tears to my eyes (and I don’t cry easily). Maybe it was memories of our dog Ranger, maybe it is the dreary days of January, it doesn’t matter. I’m thinking of you and Sophie and sending you hugs and peace.

    1. I really appreciate that- thank you so very much. Writing about Sophie’s loss helps me process things…such strong emotions that we all share. We’ve all experienced the loss of a loved one or a loved pet, and those holes in our hearts are shared pain. Sending a hug to you. ❤️

  2. Rest is the best! (And I’m so inspired by what you’ve shared of your performance and prep for it ! For creative types, rest is one of the most important parts of our regime!)

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