“We have a choice. We can spend our whole life suffering because we can't relax with how things really are, or we can relax and embrace the open-endedness of the human situation, which is fresh, unfixated, unbiased.”
― Pema Chödrön,
I glance at the clock and see it is just after 2: 00 A.M. The dog is not well. He is walking sideways and bumping into the walls. He tilts his head as if asking a question, but it is clearly something he can't control. We do our best to get him what he needs, a drink of water and a trip outside then we gently tuck him back in bed between us. I listen to his breath, reach down and place my hand on the rise and fall of his belly. I listen to my husband snoring next to me and I pray. I reach for my phone and google "strokes in dogs". I doze off and on, but the dog's movements are never off my radar. As soon as I am able, I call the vet over and over, because I refuse to leave a message. I imagine how full their Monday morning might be, but I am persistent. I finally get someone on the other end. I explain what is going on and her tone of voice changes, she is beyond kind and finds us a slot first thing.
There is nervous chatter from my husband in the exam room, and I want to scream. The vet knows we are both scared and she is slow but deliberate with the dog. She does not think it was a stroke and is focused instead on his back. She takes him back for X-rays and to peek into his ears. I can't speak or even entertain the what if's and I feel myself close down, pulling far into that place I can go. We hear him yelp and I imagine the worst, but soon they show back up and he is happy to see us. She bings up the images and shows us a couple of pinched nerves along his back. Lots of rest, a couple of medications for a few weeks. Keep him quiet and no running or jumping. Maybe feed him some chicken and rice for a few days because his stomach is a bit upset. He should recover fully, but it will take time.
I make my husband stop on the way home to buy a whole chicken. I wait in car with the dog, while he goes into the store, and I allow myself to cry a bit. The dog licks my tears and I feel myself breath.
It has been a hell of a month, and for the most part I have been pleased with the way I have handled myself. Fear and frustration, anger and sadness have been given the attention they deserve, but not dwelled upon. But this, this was the straw that broke the camel's back and I spend the rest of the day quiet, avoiding everything and everyone that dose bring me joy and peace and calm. I lay with the dog, who sleeps soundly and I try to read, but I can't. I am happy to just sit and watch him sleep. Happy to pet his ears and allow myself some time to just be.
Later he is underfoot as I pick the chicken off the bone. He watches me with his twinkling eyes, no head tilt at all, begging with a wagging tail. I stoop down and offer up some of the chicken in my hand, and talk to him as he licks my fingers clean. We head outside for a bit and I watch closely as he maneuvers the stairs, reminding him to slow down. He waits as I take a few photos and poses for me for proof that he is okay. Later he eagerly eats his home-cooked dinner and cry all over again.
I feel the stress of the month sliding away and I am full of gratitude because while it was a hell of a month, there has been a lot of good that has come out of it too. There have been some honest revelations within myself and I have spoken a lot of truth and set firm boundaries. I have had an unexpected gift from one of my kids, and come to understand living in the moment is really all we can do. If we are smart we relish the offering of love and unexpected blessings. If we are smart we do so without putting any expectations on these moments other than just to log them in, hold them close and be present without judgement or conditions.