Last evening, without exaggeration I went without a wink of sleep; in my 50 years I have never had an entire evening of insomnia. I couldn’t bear tossing, listening to the pugs and the husband snore (out of harmony) ; so instead I finished a biography of my hero Max Beckman and worked on a charcoal self-portrait (not at all flattering, Beckman haunts the soul ). Initially I attributed my insomnia to the stubborn flu I have been fighting, my throbbing ankle from a recent jog, and my mortality ( as I mentioned Beckman haunts); but when dawn broke I realized that two years ago this day my very beloved pug Daisy died.
Her death though mercifully swift was unexpected, sudden, bloody and violent; one morning she awoke, that evening she was hemorrhaging violently , ultimately dying of a heart attack.
Her heart wasn’t the only one broken.
It may seem maudlin but my attachment to this dear beast remains strong, tears well up readily when I think of her, which is often. I believe , and this may be mystical voodoo rubbish speaking, but I believe on some level that I was unconsciously keeping vigil for her. The hours I was a awake were the same hours as her struggle with death; death won and I believe my body remembered .
After her death I set about dealing with my/our grief. Daisy was truth be told “my” dog, we both loved her deeply but I work from home and pugs love nothing more than snuggling at your feet while you paint. Daisy was the supreme studio sentinel. One way I dealt with the loss was to build a reliquary, I built two. The first was glazed ceramic, I cannot find it, frankly the glaze was a disappointment and I was never happy with it. So next I fashioned a proper mini mausoleum for the dear girl. I was far happier with that, and it is now her final home, sitting atop the studio library.
This is what it looks like:
painted wood, paint, oven dried clay, mixed media including mortuary ashes
figures no larger than 6″tall
As can be seen, Daisy’s ashes are housed on the “ground ” floor. Sadly the Christmas before, our odd little cat Moses had also died, as had David’s father; small urns of their ashes also reside within.
“Chinois” Daisy as studio sentinel.
This is how I remember Daisy best, always watching me. Frankly she wasn’t the prettiest pug-as if there is such a thing!- my current pugs Rose and Viola are quite beautiful; but Daisy with a ridiculously long tongue and outsized personality charmed almost everyone she encountered. She was quite a force.
I so loved this image of her I painted a portriat from it a few months before she died. I feel very fortunate I was able to do that, to be able to examine her funny little feet and crooked face for distinctive characteristics; I would have missed that opportunity after she died. To see the painting and more very funny pictures of Daisy follow this memorial link I made shortly after her death.
The following are details of Daisy’s reliquary.
side panel decoration, one of two, both inspired by the Danse Macabre.
This is a detail of the upper floor. I was in denial about Daisy’s health. She was a frequent visitor of many veterinarians since we had adopted her as leggy pup. She was epileptic , which wasn’t a very big deal, but she seemed to be chronically afflicted with other ailments. This upper floor is crammed with just a small sampling of her medications. The 19th c. figurines seemed a proper mourner. The Hell Mouth a suitable architectural style.
detail of Daisy’s medicine cabinet.
I crafted funny little dark figurines, for no particular reason aside to keep Daisy company. They seem archetypal although from my imagination, they are as follows:
Grumpy pauper king with skull.
Gilded Slug of Wisdom.
To be fair, I must include a photo of Daisy’s eternal room-mate, the quite handsome if not quite grumpy Moses. He was very beautiful , very tormented, unwell most of his life, but a peculiar delight, We still hear his odd little squeak .
Moses disturbed from his nap by annoying admirers.
I appreciate the indulgence, I hope this post wasn’t too maudlin. I will work this evening, then retire early to a new day.
Until then, take care and be well,