Claire and Jim were friends, lovers, and sometimes enemies for 27 years. In order to get health insurance, they finally married, calling their anniversary the "It Means Absolutely Nothing" day. Then Jim was diagnosed with cancer. With ever-decreasing odds of survival, punctuated by arcs of false hope, Jim's deteriorating health altered their well-established independence as they became caregiver and patient, sharing intimacy as close as their own breaths. A year and a half into their marriage, Jim died from lung/brain cancer. Sustained by good dogs and gardening through the two years of madness that followed, Claire soldiered through home repairs, career disaster, genealogy quests, and "dating for seniors" trying to build a better life on the debris of her old one.Leave the Dogs at Home maps and plays with the stages of grief. Delightfully confessional, it challenges persistent, yet outdated, societal norms about relationships, and finds relief in whimsy, pop culture, and renewed spirituality.
About the Author
Claire Arbogast is a graduate of Indiana University. She gardens, walks with dogs, and writes in Bloomington, Indiana. Her website is www.ClaireArbogast.com
Table of Contents
1 The Fullness
4 Terminal Restlessness
6 Line of Salt
9 Balancing Concentrate
11 The In Between
12 The Point of Surrender
13 The Shitty Truth
15 Finding Boxerwood
16 Crabbottom Grits
17 Peripheral Vision
18 Six Years Later: New Tricks
What People are Saying About This
Leave the Dogs at Home mines the messy, graceful territory of life lived in the midst of upheaval; the roughness and tenderness of it all. Sharp and engaging, this beautiful memoir invites us to think about resilience and reconnection with the strongest parts ofSelf.
Life, just as a garden, does not have to be perfect and neat to be complete. Leave the Dogs at Home serves as a prime example of how a humble experience in the outdoors can come to our aid in times of need and healing.
By the time I finished reading Leave the Dogs at Home, I felt sure I was holding a future classic. The best thing about Claire Arbogast, besides her wonderful writing, is her hard-headed sense of intimacy and her stubborn determination to live a life of lovewhatever craziness and jury-rigging that might require from the heart.
Leave the Dogs at Homeis a memoir for and about adults and their very real lives. Claire and Jim take nearly a lifetime to move into marriage only to discover Jim has terminal cancer. But this is not so much a book about grief as it is about love. Readers will share that love and arrive at the end both stronger and wiser.
Claire Arbogast's deeply moving memoir records with honesty and clarity how she managed to move forward with her life despite the death of her husband. Her story beautifully depicts the aftermath of deep personal loss.
In this stunning debut, Claire Arbogast infuses death with life, giving readers both the gut-punch of grief as well as the warmth of a life well lived. Candid, powerful, and unrelenting, Arbogast’s pain becomes our pain, and her love becomes our love.
This very personal memoir is a gift of insightful reflection on how weathering difficult situations and transitions can help us grow and transform and blossom again. The vivid imagery and flowing words were a healing balm. Claire Arbogast has had the courage to find her voice, her true being, and share it.
Claire Arbogast rewrites the stages of grief in this raw, sometimes unsettling, always compelling memoir that takes us backward and forward in time from the moment her intense, complicated husband is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Leave the Dogs at Home challenges the conventional wisdom about love, marriage, loss, survival, and grace in ways that are bound to make you think about your own life.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have to preface this review: the author gave me a copy of this book. We have been in and out of one another's lives since 1970, through births, divorces, and deaths. She knows I will give an honest review. The writing is as honest as l have ever read, as honest as Claire. Her "church" was always her garden and she was always happiest with her hands in the dirt. This comes through loud and clear in this, her debut outing. The sense of intimacy--as well as frustration--shines from every page. The determination to live life on her own terms is evident, even when she was navigating the corporate jungle. This memoir is at times touching and other times heart breaking, but always superb writing. Reading about her life with Jim, her journey through grief, and the eloquence of her words made me wish the book was longer. Terrific read! Diane in JAX