the printed thoughts of a woman on a journey towards awareness, truth, acceptance, clarity, and forgiveness...with some fun and fearlessness thrown in

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

getting outside myself

A good friend gave me some great advice yesterday. Knowing that I was trying to come up with the answers to some difficult questions, she told me to take the afternoon off and just go be with nature. Though I couldn't take the time yesterday, I did get outside a bit today. First, I took three of the dogs to the dog park. I don't usually take Bennie since she's older and doesn't really like playing rough like they do there, but she wanted to go for a ride, so I figured the ride would compensate for the destination. Anyway, the dog park was the perfect destination for me. It's a great park, the best one I've ever been to, with lots of big shade trees, park benches, and picnic tables. It backs up to a brook with a small, dammed off section which creates a pool perfect for dogs to swim in. Since none of mine are swimmers, though Labrador blood runs through half of them, we didn't visit the water today, but some of the other dogs there did and they happily shared the water left on their coats and feet with the rest of us.

The dog park is a great place to just get dirty and have fun. I mean, the dogs have no pretenses about their objectives, so why not drop your defenses and do the same? I, for one, can think of nothing better than being kissed by a 100-pound pit bull who climbs up onto your lap or having a shy Rhodesian nudge your hand for a clandestine stroke while the rest of the canine crowd is engaged in something akin to a rugby scrum in the far corner of the park. The dog park puts all humans on an even playing field. There are no occupations or titles there. You're Gator's mom or Happy's dad. (Yes, there was a dog named Happy there today!) No one asks you about your political views or where your kids go to school. They talk about how old their dog is and how they came to have a dog. They talk about surgeries for knee injuries, baby teeth, the dog at home who doesn't like the park, and the funny things their dogs do. They smile, they laugh, they live in the moment...just like their dogs. The dog park is kind of like a playground for grown-ups.

So, since it's in the 90's right now, we didn't stay at the park for too long, but after everyone had their nap in the A/C, I felt the need to go back outside again. I haven't felt like doing much in the gardens around the house all year. Truth be told, I haven't felt much passion for gardening since we moved here. Maybe it's because the other houses are so close, and I prefer a more secluded outdoor space. Maybe it's just my lack of joy over living in Connecticut in the first place. But, hostas still need to be trimmed back after their blooms are gone, and I still hadn't done this, so outside I went. Armed with a new pair of shears that I found tucked away in my old, rusty gardening cabinet, I started cutting, and cutting, and cutting.

I soon remembered what I loved about being in the garden, about doing a mundane task like weeding or pruning. It's the quiet that I find inside my head. Gone are the voices of worry and doubt. There is no such thing as gossip or judgment. No deadlines, no bills, no boss, no nothing and nobody. Watched over by my dogs, who somehow protect me from the outside world, I am able to just dig into the task at hand. Today, I reacquainted myself with the daddy longlegs spider and thanked him for the great job he does in my garden. I walked barefoot through the fallen leaves of last autumn that line the beds of the side yard, where our characteristically au naturel approach to gardening is more "naturel" than the front, and I could feel the warmth of decay through my soles. I had dirt under my nails and sweat on my brow, and I felt truly accomplished and peaceful, all at once.

I had cut and cut away at the things that were no longer needed and had thrown them in a heap onto the compost pile. Like pushing aside the nonsense that clutters my mind from time to time, I cleared space for new growth as well as tidying up what's left behind when an something dies. There's still work to do, as I never made it to the hosta bed outside the kitchen window, but I guess I know where my next opportunity lies.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

24 hours

We have an appointment tomorrow morning at 10:30...just 24 hours from now. I didn't want to make an appointment. It felt like I would be sealing your fate and giving up on you. I didn't want to plan for your death, but I didn't want you to have to wait when your time had come. I called other vets and made contingency plans if you told me that you were ready and your regular vet couldn't see you right away. I even made arrangements with my boss to take time off without notice when the time came. I did all that I could think to do, all that made sense in a completely insane situation, all that my heart told me was right to do. When I noticed on Saturday that your good moments were growing more infrequent, I called and made the appointment. It made me sad to do it, but I felt like we would be taken care of if that was what we needed come Monday morning.

I was so happy on Saturday when you ate so readily and so often throughout the day, but this morning you are not interested in eating and my mind is beginning to reason with my heart. I've taken a hundred or more pictures of you already this morning. I know you're getting annoyed with me, but please be patient while I try to take in every last minute we have together. I know you don't understand what's going on, that you only know that you don't feel well. I want to explain to you how it's supposed to be, all that I imagined for you, and how angry I am that we are both being robbed by this disease. I want you to understand how much I love you, that I have done all that I can for you, and that I believe with all my soul that we will be together once again. I want you to know how much you were wanted, how we chose you from all the cats we looked at and met, and how we would choose you all over again...even knowing what we know now.

I don't know how long it will take me to be able to walk by the dining room and not look for you. I still sometimes look for Otis to be hiding in the back of Bennie's crate, and he has been gone for three years now. I still glance at the front window as I leave for work in the morning, expecting to see Manny watching me go, and he has been gone for a year. I can't imagine that as long as I live in this house I will be able to look into the dining room and not look for you. I can't even bring myself to clean the floor where your wet paws left little, clay-colored prints after a trip to the litterbox. I don't want to vacuum your hair off the chair where you used to sleep. I will look for you there. I will expect to see you come to the dish every time I walk through the doorway. I will miss seeing you lying on the window sill. The room will be empty and lifeless without you in it.

Today you are here with me. Tomorrow, you probably will not. I don't know how to deal with that. I guess I'll figure it out in 24 hours.