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I didn't want to do this. Writing an artist statement makes it final. The quilt gets done and the last, or second to last, task is to write the statement. Once I write the statement, it says he's gone. All this over a dog, jesus.
I didn't know I could love this much. Dex got very sick, very fast. 6 weeks before he died, he ran up the ski jump at Gunstock mountain and I thought I was gonna have to hike up after him. Next thing you know, he came running down the mountain, thru the woods, as fast as he ran up. I couldn't believe a 8 1/2 year old golden could do that. He was in incredible shape as we walked a lot, he swam a lot, and he moved a lot.
He didn't finish his breakfast on a Tuesday. I had him in the vets that afternoon and three weeks later I was putting him to sleep.
He stopped eating. For many hours we sat in the backyard. He stared into the woods and the owls appeared - two of them. The owls were there for the three weeks and I thought there was a nest. They were so close, on the ground twenty feet from me, in the trees next to Dex and I. When I came home after Dex died, the owls were gone. Later I learned owls symbolize death in Native American culture.
There was doctor diagnosis, test results, surgery, 24 ICU care. No matter what we did, nothing worked. We would hit it with something and he just got sicker. At one point, we thought we found the issue and a tumor was removed. He got better but only for two days. His numbers were bad again and he wouldn't eat. This was during the Coronovirus and people weren't allowed in the animal emergency hospitals. At Port City, there is a hill and one afternoon, there was five of us women sitting on the hill waiting to hear on our dogs, some good news, some not so good news. I thought it should be a quilt - Women on the Hill. My car had a change of clothes, food, pillow, blankets, Ipad, stuff to keep me occupied while Dex was getting medical treatment.
One day he looked at me and a tear rolled down his face. I guess he knew at that point. I kept telling myself his eyes were weeping and to let the doctor know. It wasn't a weep, it was a tear. I actually started to think it was okay he didn't eat for two weeks. It wasn't registering with me. Torrie came over and spent time with us in the backyard. She was so calm, had a smile on her face as I'm crying. She said she felt so thankful for being able to spend time with him.
Out of his last three weeks, much of the time was in the emergency hospital as we tried to save him. He had tubes in, had to wear a cone at one point, had a catheter, he was in a cage. When I picked him up he was happy to see me and leave the hospital. I could have kept him alive for a couple of weeks but it would have meant more tubes, more crates/cages. All I could think was 'you guys don't get him anymore. He's mine'.
I was able to help him. He left on his own terms.
I stopped sewing. It started when I was taking care of him. After he died, nothing was working. I just didn't sew and at some point, I started this quilt. Quilts take a long time to finish - this one is no exception and it's not like I'm working at a fast or hard pace now-a-days. When I first started, I didn't know how or what I was doing, didn't know how I was going to write an artist statement. There are a few things in this quilt I'm not writing about. It's between Dex and I.
There are chunks taken out of my heart from all three dogs - Berk, Cheska and now Dex. Some of the edges are smoother as time goes on. As I heal more, I'm okay with it. They have some of my heart with them. When it was raw, it was like a chunk of my heart fell off and it was open to pain. As time moves on, happy memories start to surface. The pain is still there but I see clearer. The lightness of the background shows the light he brought to my life.
I don't know why but I've taken Dex's death really hard. I'm not the same person anymore. I'm still going, doing everything I'm supposed to do, but I hurt. I cry everyday usually in the woods. It's probably the same grief as Cheska & Berk (and Mom), but it feels harder. Older people tell me it's harder when you get older. My sister thinks we just forget. What is it about our relationship or bond with our dogs? I was thinking how it might be strange how deeply I felt Dexter's death and I don't see that in other people. That being said, a friend of mine got a tattoo of her pup and the ink had some of his ashes. He walks with her. That's awesome.
Did sewing this quilt help me heal or was working on it and time passing helpful. I'm not healed. I don't feel I ever will be but I can go forward although with a few tears.
Dex, I wish you didn't die.
Materials: Hand Dyed and Hand Painted Cotton & Silk, Cotton & Monofilament Thread, Fabric Markers
Techniques: Drawn & Fused Imagery, Free Motion Quilting, Fabric Marker Painting