23 November 2012

~ Why Fiona Apple is My Hero ~

It's 6pm on Friday, and I'm writing to a few thousand friends I have not met yet. I am writing to ask them to change our plans and meet a little while later. Here's the thing. I have a dog Janet, and she's been ill for almost two years now, as a tumor has been idling in her chest, growing ever so slowly. She's almost 14 years old now.I got her when she was 4 months old. I was 21 then, an adult officially - and she was my child.
She is a pitbull, and was found in Echo Park, with a rope around her neck, and bites all over her ears and face. She was the one the dogfighters use to puff up the confidence of the contenders. She's almost 14 and I've never seen her start a fight, or bite, or even growl, so I can understand why they chose her for that awful role. She's a pacifist.
Janet has been the most consistent relationship of my adult life, and that is just a fact. We've lived in numerous houses, and jumped a few make shift families, but it's always really been the two of us. She slept in bed with me, her head on the pillow, and she accepted my hysterical, tearful face into her chest, with her paws around me, every time I was heartbroken, or spirit-broken, or just lost, and as years went by, she let me take the role of her child, as I fell asleep, with her chin resting above my head. She was under the piano when I wrote songs, barked any time I tried to record anything, and she was in the studio with me all the time we recorded the last album. The last time I came back from tour, she was spry as ever, and she's used to me being gone for a few weeks every 6 or 7 years.

Fiona and Janet

She has Addison's Disease, which makes it dangerous for her to travel since she needs regular injections of Cortisol, because she reacts to stress and to excitement without the physiological tools which keep most of us from literally panicking to death.
Despite all of this, she’s effortlessly joyful and playful, and only stopped acting like a puppy about 3 years ago. She's my best friend and my mother and my daughter, my benefactor, and she's the one who taught me what love is.
I can't come to South America. Not now.
When I got back from the last leg of the US tour, there was a big, big difference. She doesn't even want to go for walks anymore. I know that she's not sad about aging or dying. Animals have a survival instinct, but a sense of mortality and vanity, they do not. That’s why they are so much more present than people. But I know that she is coming close to point where she will stop being a dog, and instead, be part of everything. She’ll be in the wind, and in the soil, and the snow, and in me, wherever I go.
I just can't leave her now, please understand.
If I go away again, I’m afraid she'll die and I won't have the honor of singing her to sleep, of escorting her out. Sometimes it takes me 20 minutes to pick which socks to wear to bed. But this decision is instant. These are the choices we make, which define us.
I will not be the woman who puts her career ahead of love and friendship. I am the woman who stays home and bakes Tilapia for my dearest, oldest friend. And helps her be comfortable, and comforted, and safe, and important. Many of us these days, we dread the death of a loved one. It is the ugly truth of Life, that keeps us feeling terrified and alone. I wish we could also appreciate the time that lies right beside the end of time. I know that I will feel the most overwhelming knowledge of her, and of her life and of my love for her, in the last moments. I need to do my damnedest to be there for that. Because it will be the most beautiful, the most intense, the most enriching experience of life I've ever known. When she dies.

So I am staying home, and I am listening to her snore and wheeze, and reveling in the swampiest, most awful breath that ever emanated from an angel. And I am asking for your blessing.
I'll be seeing you.
Love, Fiona

"A dog doesn't care if you're rich or poor, big or small, young or old. He doesn't care if you're not smart, not popular, not a good joke-teller, not the best athlete, nor the best-looking person. To your dog, you are the greatest, the smartest, the nicest human being who was ever born. You are his friend and protector." -Louis Sabin

(Re-printed from Facebook and the Huffington Post}


Lynne said...

Profoundly beautiful . . . a piece I will keep, and read again and again with love.

Thank you Misha for sharing . . .

Hartwood Roses said...

I saw a snipet of this on FB, and I am SO glad that you reprinted the whole piece. This puts words to the way so many of us feel ... especially the end of life paragraph. It's a fact we face, when we accept pets in our life. How wonderful to see someone else who feels the way we do.

What courage it took for her to do this!

Cindi Summerlin said...

*sobbing* I've never actually heard Fiona Apple but I will make a point of finding her music now. What an incredible woman. Her dog is so blessed.

Buttons said...

Oh she is my Hero too!!!!!
This is beautiful and I understand it completely. B

Mary Ann said...

I'm a Fiona fan now... what a wonderful tribute!

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

What a touching and beautiful tribute Fiona Apple has written, and what devotion and gratitude she has and is showing for her beloved Janet--I wish them all the best and many more days together. I wish that everyone felt that way about their pets.

Kayla @ TheEclecticElement said...

You definitely have to be inspired by her as an artist and as a person with a huge heart to write something as profound and as heart achingly beautiful as this tribute to her best fur-friend as well as respect her immediate decision to take a break and be there for her baby.

Now if only more people had this love and compassion towards everything, the world would be such a better place!

Thank you for sharing Misha.

Thistle Cove Farm said...

We all know what the right thing to do is; what makes us compassionate is when we choose to do the right thing.

Ashling said...

I'd read about this, but not her letter. Sitting at my desk at work teary-eyed after reading it now, but am grateful you shared it....

islandwonder said...

I saw this.... so beautiful and such a sad time for her.

Leslie @ Farm Fresh Fun said...

Thanks so much MIsha!!!! Pinning for future reference. IT's perfect. Hope your holiday season is off to a wonderful start.