Something is missing

The RecitalDespite my lack of natural musical ability, I began the painful and joyous experience of learning to play the accordion about seven and a half years ago. It’s been a sick addiction ever since. And from the moment I started squeezing the bellows, my dog Sunny was by my side.

She dug accordion music. Seriously.

She would be blissfully napping upstairs and the instant I hit the first few chords, I’d hear that familiar click clack of doggy nails as she raced down the stairs. Seconds later she’d be lying by my feet. Then after a while, when she’d had enough, she’d gently put her paw on my thigh and give me the look that it was time to put the squeeze box away. Once, while walking her (something we did twice a day, every day, for nearly 13 years), I heard the strains of accordion music in the distance–hardly a daily occurrence in Richmond, Virginia. She took off in hot pursuit. I, of course, had no choice but to follow.

She dragged me up some rather steep steps to the front porch of a row house, where I was forced to give an awkward hello to the barefooted dude playing accordion. “Hi there! Pay no attention to us. We just accidentally walked 12 feet up your front steps from the sidewalk way down below to to say hey.” I explained to him that my dog liked accordion music and he thought that was cool. Sunny and I both sat there for a good while and listened. That was a good day–one of so many with her.

My husband and I lost our remarkable dog to rapidly spreading liver cancer just 3 weeks ago. Because I loved her so very much, I knew her eventual loss would be heart wrenching. I had no idea just how much it would actually hurt.

To help me process my grief and allow me to focus not on her death but on the immense joy she brought to my life, I created a slideshow of her adventures. My choice would have been to accompany these photos with the music of John Hiatt and his oh so fabulous song, Just My Dog and Me. But since his copyright lawyers would have been quick to snatch that up from YouTube, I used recordings of me playing music (and some music of my friends) as a soundtrack instead. Sunny would dig the fact that it’s mostly accordion.

Please forgive my woefully inadequate sound editing in iMovie. I’m still learning.

Accordions rule but accordion-loving dogs rule more.

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring—it was peace.
—Milan Kundera

Sunny is really a person in a dog suit. And one day I’m going to find the zipper. 

– Andy Swartz

25 thoughts on “Something is missing

  1. So sweet — loved every second of this slide show. It made me think of all of my little dog angels. Their precious lives are too short.

  2. So moving! (And now I feel like a slacker – I think I’ve taken about 4 pics of Jasper over the past few years — but he doesn’t smile like Sunny did!)

  3. Hey Karen… So sad to hear about your dog. I have to admit, I didn’t watch the entire 6 minutes of your video, but I did get to hear you go around the verses 3 times.. And saw lotsa sweet photos of your dog. Such a heartfelt tribute. It was sweet to hear you play. I haven’t played since May… I was a bit traumatized by the workshop, lost a little bit of my joy with the accordion. I’m sure it will come back. I think you have inspired me once again. Enjoy the squeeze in.. Sad that I cannot join you… Hugs . Val

  4. Karen, your tribute to sweet Sunny is timelessly moving. Anyone who has loved & lost their dog understands the mixed joy and pain, but not nearly as deeply as you do. I am so sorry for your loss.

  5. Karen. You moved me to tears! What a beautiful tribute to your wonderful dog! Sunny really and truly smiled the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on a dog! She had the best fun loving parents s dog could have. I hope she and Molson are pals in doggy heaven!❤️

  6. Lovely post. I’ll bet it took a lot of tissues to get through the writing and the film production. Wishing that your sweet, joy-filled memories help to push away some of the sorrow. xo

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