Leave the Dogs at Home - A Memoir
Claire S. Arbogast
One woman’s touching memoir of love, marriage, death, grief, and what follows comes next for her.
Claire and Jim were friends, lovers, and sometimes enemies for twenty-seven 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 Delightfully confessional, it challenges persistent, yet outdated, societal norms about relationships, and finds relief in whimsy, pop culture, and renewed spirituality.
“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.” —Barbara Shoup, author of Looking for Jack Kerouac
“Arbogast delivers a raw and honest narrative of her life as a lover, a widow, and a woman. . . . The theme of death and life, both literally and figuratively, are navigated with such emotion, it seems natural to empathize with the author in sadness, joy, love, and uncertainty as her longtime companion (later husband) Jim combats cancer. . . . An excellent choice for those touched by grief, ready for a change, or just wanting to read a beautifully written memoir.” —Library Journal