Present Tense

“Let it go!”

One of the main themes of this blog is my ongoing battle with letting go; of worry, anxiety, control.  I’m working toward an internal evolution of acceptance, balance, peace and clarity that has been elusive thus far.  I have a feeling that many of you struggle with the same issues.  You too, have that little demon on your shoulder, whispering in your ear to grab the reins, step in, wrestle it into submission.  You know who you are and trust me, I’m right there with you, grappling, tugging, manipulating and you know what?  I’m tired.

Two events during the past week, have left me feeling the ying and yang of grief and hope,  pain and acceptance, loss and renewal.  One event was catastrophic on a world scale and that was the devastation in Haiti.  The other was the death of my 19 year old cat, Gus.  If I squint, I can see that it’s a bit of a metaphor for the human condition and indeed, my  own emotional tussle.  I worry and ache just as much over things that are way beyond my control, like human suffering, cruelty to animals, wars, natural disasters, and ignorant politicians (and religious leaders…yes, i mean YOU, Pat Robertson; take a lesson from the Pope and the Dali Lama; you’re an embarrassment to Christians who get enough grief as it is), as I do about things or events that affect me, personally and intimately.  Having both of them overlap in one week, has taught me something:  forget the illusion that I’m in control.

I can grieve for the horror happening in Haiti, I can donate money and I’m in a unique situation with my radio show, to ask others to make a donation, but that is about all of that I can realistically do.  Similarly,  even though it happened in my house, in my life, I realized I really didn’t have much more control over the failing health of my cat.  The best I could do was care for him and love him all of these years and when it became apparent that he was dying of kidney failure, we made the difficult decision to euthanize him and bury him in our backyard with his pet buddies, who had preceeded him in death.

A couple of years ago, our dog Feta, who I still ache for everyday, had a similar condition at the age of 15.  The vet showed us how to administer fluids, which involved sticking a needle into her neck and making her endure an IV for 15-20 minutes everyday.  She didn’t like it, but we insisted; I insisted.  It was a desperate attempt to keep her with us as for long as possible and through all of it, as she got thinner and more frail, I believed that we could make her well.  We hand fed her, picked her up to go outside, religiously administered the fluids and one day, when she could no longer struggle out of her bed, my husband looked at me and said, “how much longer”? and I gave in.  I’m feeling the pain of that day, even as I write this, but that pain taught me what needed to be done with Gus.  I didn’t want to drag him along on my timetable, my journey, when he was telling us it was time to let go.  Anyone who has ever made that awful decision, second-guesses themselves.  The pets make it all the more difficult as they seem to rally a bit, just when you’ve made the call to the vet.  “Is he really that sick”?  “Maybe a couple more days; maybe we should just try the fluids”.  That’s the control freak talking and I’m learning to shut that desperate voice out.

My husband is a saint in these situations, being much more pragmatic and probably more loving than me.  Even though I know it’s just as painful for him to be there in their last moments as it would be for me, he does it, because I can’t.  I’m not that transformed as yet, but I’ll keep working on it.   We go through our lives, knowing either consciously or tucked away in the back of our minds, how it will end for all of us and still, we continue to love, to commit, to make plans, to evolve.  The happiest and healthiest, learn to accept and enjoy.

January 17, 2010 - Posted by | Musings | , , , ,

19 Comments »

  1. Oh, my heart…I love your beautiful spirit Jane. You make my world a better place.

    Comment by Margie Jennings | January 17, 2010 | Reply

  2. Great last line. Giving us all something to think about and be aware of.
    Thanks

    Comment by Kris | January 17, 2010 | Reply

  3. Hi Jane,

    You write wonderfully and I can relate to what you are saying. I can’t even watch the aspca.org commercials, I have to change the channel. I lost Marley to kidney failure (my cat of 18 years) three years ago and I think of her always. I now have two Chihuahuas and I love them with all my heart, but nothing can replace her.

    I will be listening to you all week! Keep up the great writing!

    -Andrea.

    Comment by Andrea | January 17, 2010 | Reply

  4. Andrea
    thanks for the nice comments. I really appreciate it. I know what you mean about those ASPCA commercials: heartbreaking! Thanks so much for reading my blog; it’s a little more personal for me, than the radio show. Pass it along to anyone you think might relate to my posts.
    jane

    Comment by janelondon | January 17, 2010 | Reply

  5. Walter Anderson (artist) had a saying about pets , he refered to them as ..”God’s sample to us of what heaven will be like”…I hope I see all my past pets in heaven! That could be a lot of dog poop!

    Comment by melissa | January 17, 2010 | Reply

    • It’s funny you say that about the dog poop; we talked about that on our radio show one time and we determined that there would be no dog poop in heaven. We all talked about our vision of heaven and mind involved puppies and great ski conditions!!
      jane

      Comment by janelondon | January 18, 2010 | Reply

  6. Love it, Jane. Great writing. So heartfelt. Made me shed a tear. xo

    Comment by Kelly | January 18, 2010 | Reply

  7. Jane, I’m SO sorry about your cat… & I understand your sentiments completely. I’ve told my kids that one of my goals in life is to leave this world a happier, healthier version than I started out, & that’s going to require some real work! You’re right, lots of us need to learn how to let go & enjoy the ride. Very nicely done, girlfriend! You rock!

    Comment by Kathy McCreedy | January 18, 2010 | Reply

  8. If you haven’t read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Eat, Pray, Love,” I highly, highly recommend it. It’s the story of her struggle to let go of obsessive control needs that ended her marriage and sent her into a spiraling depression for 2 years. It was inspirational and throughly thought provoking for me. I’m currently reading her follow-up, “Committed,” that was released last week.

    Some people pan Gilbert as a flake for this one autobiographical book, but I find her highly interesting. She’s a highly acclaimed writer, but was mostly little known before “Eat, Pray, Love.”

    Comment by Roxanne Rieske | January 18, 2010 | Reply

  9. Darn it.

    throughly should be thoroughly

    I should be banned from writing anything with only 3 hours of sleep.

    Comment by Roxanne Rieske | January 18, 2010 | Reply

  10. Hey Jane sorry to hear about your cat. I was wondering does guilt ever bother you. To me you seem like the kind of person who has it together. If being in control bothers you I was wondering about guilt. I feel like I constantly have to apologize (in my own head) for everything from not spending enough time with people to you name it. I am curious about you!

    Comment by Shannon | January 19, 2010 | Reply

    • Yes. Who doesn’t feel guilt? I think we’re all kind of plagued by it, in different ways. I was talking to my therapist about guilt in our last visit and I determined that my guilt was more about how other people see or perceive me, which means that guilt is kind of selfish and self-absorbed in many cases. Mine at least:)

      Comment by janelondon | January 19, 2010 | Reply

  11. Jane,
    This message should pull the heart strings of anyone that has ever loved a pet. I too know the “Is he really that sick”? “Maybe a couple more days; maybe we should just try the fluids” feeling. And I also know that I am not as strong as I would like to be, when it comes to making the final decision. I am a bleeding heart, I want so much to help everyone and I take on their pain as my own more times than not. Thanks for writing this, and letting me know I’m not alone.

    Comment by Samantha Spillman | January 19, 2010 | Reply

  12. Jane,
    I don’t consider myself a control freak in the least (some family members might disagree, however).

    Boy, this sure hits home with me right now. We have an elderly dog upon which we’re trying to make “the decision.” The best we can tell, he only gets about 10 minutes of enjoyment out of his day, and that’s when he’s eating . . . and he is still eating, which is why we are having a hard time making the decision.

    But I’m with Prince Charming – how long do we let me struggle down two short step to get outside; how long do we let him go on with no realization of where he is; and if he falls into our basement window well again, as he did this week, will he hurt himself the next time?

    I think I’ve come to the conclusion of what the “right” this to do is. But unlike your husband, mine doesn’t want to accompany me as he did 7 years ago, the last time we had to make this decision. Can I borrow Prince Charming for an afternon?

    Love your blog – love your show.

    Comment by Jewel | January 22, 2010 | Reply

  13. That’s rough and you obviously have my sympathy and your husband has my empathy:) Yeah, it really sounds like it’s time and your comment about him having so little joy, is heart breaking. We had a dog with dementia a few years ago and he was so out of it, but he was physically very strong, but he was hurting himself and so very confused and almost panicked, much of the time. At 16, we finally decided to put him down. It would have been so much easier, had he been physically very ill.
    Best of luck. I’ll be thinking of you.

    jane

    Comment by janelondon | January 23, 2010 | Reply

  14. Dear Jane,
    I tried to read this blog when I first heard you talking about your cat but couldn’t because our 14 1/2 year old dog was struggling with kidney disease and Cushings disease. Yesterday, we made the decision and the vet came to our house. When I read your blog today, it was very comforting. Mercedes use to love to eat! The last 2 weeks we cooked everything we could think of for her and she just couldn’t eat. She would also wake up and shake for hours. It was very helpful to read about the “second guessing” and pets rallying at the end. That is what we are experiencing. Thank you for sharing your experience, it was comforting to my husband and me. We are so sorry for your loss as well. If you want to see her picture, I am friends with you on Facebook. It was posted on my profile on Saturday.
    Thanks you again,
    Marni Pepper

    Comment by Marni Pepper | February 21, 2010 | Reply

    • Marni:
      I’m so glad that the post was comforting to you. I actually read your status update on FB last night about Mercedes and even though I don’t know you, personally, I felt a pang of grief, when I read it. I’m so sorry for your loss and I know exactly how you’re feeling. I’ll go check out her photo. Take care.
      jane

      Comment by janelondon | February 21, 2010 | Reply

  15. I used to be so bad about holding on to grief. I had a string of just really crappy things happen in my life in 2005(one of which was losing my sweet, sweet choc lab Casey); I used to have routine pity parties for myself, and whine “whoa is me” all the time. It took nothing to get me into tears. But in the last few years, I have decided to stop being so damned pathetic and get on with it. And you know, it worked. I am not saying I am some “cup-half-full” ray of sunshine every day of my life (I find those people a bit annoying). But I totally agree with you regarding the ability to recognize that I am just not in control all the time. What I can control is how I react, recover, etc. During that very rough patch in my life, a very good friend of mine said, “Teri, it’s not about the bad things that happen in our lives, it’s about how we deal with them…that’s what separates winners from losers”. All these years later, I still think about that-and it is a lot like the photo in your blog. It’s time to let go (it will be okay).

    Although, for the record, of the many things that went wrong in my life during that time-including losing a job, my marriage falling apart, etc., losing my Casey dog was by far the hardest, and still to this day makes my heart ache. I do believe it was the right thing to do-he was in so much pain and he loved me so much, he just hung around waiting for me to let him go. Ugh! The only evidence on this earth of unconditional love I have ever known. 🙂

    I love your blog-and I listen to your show many mornings-I almost always agree with you. I love that you said you hate Bob Hope today. I have thought that my whole life and always been afraid to say it-people think you are unAmerican or something! too funny!

    Comment by Teri | February 23, 2010 | Reply

    • You have a very wise friend; aren’t you glad she was there when you needed her?
      I’m sorry to hear about Casey and I really do understand the continuing pain. Hope things are better now; I know they must be, thanks to your reaction to them.
      Thanks for writing and for listening to our show. I really appreciate it.

      Comment by janelondon | February 23, 2010 | Reply


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