Present Tense

Still learning…

I’m an over-thinker, but I try and learn something from each painful experience in my life.  The discomfort that I’ve felt over losing our dog, Chili has got to mean something to me.  What have I learned from the past few weeks?

First lesson:  trust my intuition.  I’ve always been in tune with what I can feel or ‘know’.  Unfortunately, I’m also a very analytical and logical person, so I tend to override my gut instincts.  I knew that there was something a little ‘off’ about the dog all summer.  Even before the summer.  I kept telling my husband that something wasn’t right.

There were no overt signs.  She seemed healthy; her blood work didn’t show anything out of the ordinary.  But, there was something in her behavior that I found unsettling.  She wasn’t enthusiastic about her food, she seemed a bit depressed and sluggish at times.  I attributed it to our move, the new surroundings, the heat.  I had even written a couple of emails to a local holistic vet, saying that I felt like something was going on with her and I even felt like it was involving her liver or kidneys.  But, I didn’t act.  I suppressed it because I didn’t have any firm evidence.  Until of course, she got sick and died.  My gut spoke; my brain ignored.

The next thing that I learned:  reach out to folks who are going through a bad time.  We often don’t know what to say or how to react to people who are grieving or struggling or in pain.  It doesn’t matter what you say.  Say SOMETHING.  Let them know that you’re thinking about them.  Express your condolences.  Either by a note or a text or an email or a phone call.  Just do it.  More than once, if need be.

The comfort that comes from hearing from other humans is immeasurable.  Even from strangers, who only know me via my blog, my Facebook or my radio show.  The notes and comments that I received were of great comfort.  We are all humans, bound together by our common experiences of sadness, happiness, joy, sorrow, triumph.  Let’s suffer and celebrate together.

Lastly:  time really does begin to erode the pain.  It’s been less than a week, but I’m already beginning to soften.  I can finally talk about my sweet, departed pooch and feel warmth.  The pain I felt is morphing into gratitude for the memories and the time that we had her.  Everyone said this would come if I made a little space.  Everyone was right.  The collective psyche knows what it’s talking about.

Seems like we’d all have learned our life lessons by the time we reach the age of 50.  Not true. Gotta remain open to the wisdom that so constantly is knocking to get in.  Open the mind, open the door, open the heart.

October 31, 2013 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Goodbye, Miss Chili…..


Our dog died yesterday.  The pain of losing her is acute; like a cleaver in the middle of my chest.  I can barely breath, let alone talk about losing her.  I can only write.

Chili was 11. Too young for a 10 pound Jack Russell Terrier to leave us, but it seems that she had cancer that shut down her liver.  Very quickly.  She was dead in 3 weeks after extensive medical intervention.

This was not what I had planned.  I figured we’d get at least 15 years out of this wee one.  I was diligent about her health and her diet.  Those who know me, would probably describe it more as fanatical.  I was determined to keep her with me as long as possible and to stretch her lifespan to the limits.

But, here I am.  Learning the lesson again that in this life, we eventually lose everything that we love.  Nothing lasts forever.  We are finite on planet earth.  All of us.  All of our dogs.  All of our loved ones. God, that hurts.

For the past 3 weeks, I reverted back to my control freak persona.  I just KNEW that despite the doctors being completely baffled as to how to treat her and their warnings that her prognosis was grim, I could fix her.  Diet, supplements, love, acupuncture, fluids, love, exercise, love, fresh air, hope.  I didn’t eat, I barely slept, I Googled every medicine and supplement and every possibility of what could possibly be wrong with her.

She got weaker and yellower from the jaundice.  Her life force was ebbing, but I powered on.  “This will be the day she turns around”.

She had one last good day on Thursday.  We loaded her and our other dog Junior in the car and took a drive around Lake Leelanau to see the colors and the lake.  We stopped at every park and boat ramp and she trotted out and stood in the lake.  She stood and savored the water lapping at her belly.  We chuckled at how much coaxing it took to get her to come back to the car.

That was it.  She knew.  She gave us a good day to remember and said goodbye to the water that she loved.  Dogs are smart and intuitive. Their connection to the universe may be a little more well-tuned than ours.

We are human, hear us roar.  We can FIX THINGS!  Can’t we?

This was the first time that I had the courage to be present for a pet’s final breath.  I held her all night on Friday and said my goodbyes and so I was ready to help her pass.  It was peaceful and a relief to know that she wasn’t suffering any longer.

Chili was a dog that always looked me in the eye and told me exactly what she needed from me.  She was ‘my’ dog.  I knew that that bond required that I be there for her at the end.

She is buried in a lovely spot, under an oak tree, near our barn.  I’m having a very hard time letting her go and I know the pain will dull into pleasant memories in time.  It always does.  It’s a lesson we learn every time we love.

October 27, 2013 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , | 71 Comments


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