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Stellar’s Last Days: Letting Go

In some moments, he seems just fine. He ambles through the woods as he always has, led by his nose. I’m grateful that his nose still knows what’s where: I can rely on his nose to indicate something of interest, something that might necessitate my attention. I can no longer rely upon his ears, for his hearing is routinely 180º off: I call him from one side, and his ears perk and he turns the exact opposite direction of where I am, looking. It’s okay. It just means I have to keep him close to me on walks that I can chase him down, and not lose sight of him. I can no longer rely on his eyesight: unless I’m moving, he can lift his nose from the ground and scan for me and not see me, even when I’m directly in front of him. It’s okay. It just means I need to remain always in his sight, and adapt to his new normal.

We all three enjoyed a nice walk this morning, rambling through the south woods and sagebrush; and we took another walk this evening. While Stellar ambled in the woods, Topaz rolled in the dirt closer to me, then threw her ears back, before zipping off ahead of us both. And then, Stellar was no longer fine.

He was sniffing, and turning, and his feet got tangled up, as they do more and more often. Down he went. Usually, he can get himself back up, but not this time. He waited patiently for me to make my way to him. I’ve taken to walking always with a scarf on, so I can sling him up with it if necessary, but this evening, I had just showered, and changed into a loose dress, and it was so mild I forgot to put anything else on. Often, if I can reposition his feet, he can get up on his own, which fortunately was the case this time, though it took a couple of tries and a little extra lift from me.

I love you so much, without attachment.

I have to say it like this, because I see him slipping away more and more clearly. I realize that recently I’ve been resisting something that may not happen. I’ve been fretting about when it might be time to put him down. I’ve been experiencing sorrow, with resistance rather than with acceptance. I keep thinking I’m accepting it, and then there’s another layer. Each time we reach a new level of his infirmity, I resist for awhile before surrendering, and adapting my mind to his increased needs. When I finally do that, I’m still sad, but I suffer less and can enjoy him more. I may never have to make that painful decision for him. He may live comfortably until he just up and dies in his sleep, or in my arms like his sister did. Like my mother did, for that matter.

I’m grateful for a buddhist friend’s words of wisdom this afternoon. She shared advice from a visiting tulku, who essentially gave permission for contemporary buddhists to euthanize a pet when one could be clear that it was the animal who was suffering the most, and not oneself. And she said, “Your whole life right now is about his dying.” It’s true. I’m grateful for that understanding. And I can’t get impatient about it. This is my life right now, and it’s a worthy, meaningful process. One day he’ll be gone, and my life will be about something else. For now, I’m grateful for a daily practice of moment-to-moment letting go.

Self-compassion

I’ve been working all week on some presentations I get to do at the graduation retreat for the Mindful Learning Year I complete this weekend. One of them includes this image under the heading ‘The Right Tools for the Job.’ One of those is self-compassion, something I knew little about previously. I’m done, and exhausted. I’m grateful for this new skill, self-compassion. Good night!

No Internet

Having no internet has highlighted my habits. I’m grateful for the lesson in equanimity. [I tried to post this last night from my phone, and accidentally created it as a new page rather than a new post. I’m grateful that the internet is back on today, and that even with technical challenges on the website, their tech support offered me tools for a workaround.]

Grateful for bumblebees and onions.

Grateful for a lovely walk in the woods with Stellar, and for ancient junipers.

The trees have ears.

Grateful for red cactus flowers.

Habit

I’m grateful that I’ve ingrained the habit of posting daily gratitude practice. Today the internet is down after mind numbing winds. Even if it weren’t, last I tried to access WordPress from my computer I still couldn’t post. It’s frustrating, but I recognize that this is one price I pay for living in the boonies, and also, remember when there wasn’t internet? So it’s no big deal. I’m just glad the habit is so meaningful to me now that I’ll find a way to share my gratitude by hook or by crook, whatever that means. I’m grateful there are a few people out there counting on me to lull them to sleep ♥️

Composure

After sorting and choosing some photos to share today’s gratitudes, I find that once again I’m unable to post in the usual manner from my laptop. Yesterday I solved this by posting some unedited photos from my phone, but today I choose not to do that. If I can’t post a photo from here, I’ll just say I’m grateful today that I woke up alive, that I made choices today that contributed to my genuine happiness, and that I’m grateful to be heading toward a warm, soft, cozy bed for a night of rest. Maybe I’ll sort out this sudden technical glitch tomorrow and maybe I won’t. Either way, I’ll keep my composure, feeling equanimity, for which I’m grateful 😊

And too bad if I can’t post photos, because I took a few good ones today: yet another unexpected claret cup blooming, oh the benefits of following deer trails this time of year instead of the old well-worn people trails; another great lunch, another failed burger bun with the last of the mayo, smoked salmon, St. Angel cheese, and pea sprouts; and lovely light on the apricot tree and irises, with storm clouds in the background. Ah well, so be it.

Electric Light

I’m grateful today for a lot of things of which I have no pictures, from fresh air and cold tapwater to twice-baked potatoes, from conversations and meditations to a delivery of firewood to finishing my homework. I’m so tired after a full and fruitful day that I’m going to turn out these electric lights, for which I’m also and always grateful, and go to bed.