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MARCH 2, 2017

“I have found that it is the small everyday deed of ordinary folks that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” ~ Gandalf (J.R.R. Tolkien ~ The Hobbit)”

If you listen, you can hear the sun rise. First there’s a sound like a breath, then a pure, sustained bell tone that fills the air for a moment… then it’s gone. Me, I’d never heard that sound before, until the day I did and it was a day like other days, other than I was asking for help — silently asking.

Could be that the sudden shift in my life had prompted it, or maybe it was just time to wake up. I’ll never know, but will always recall that sensation of grace… and I’m grateful for it right now.

It started when I lost my job. My kids were all raised and we were ready for a change, but fear battered my heart anyway. Looking back, it was the panic that caught me up short and shoved me to my knees. After years of being aligned to simple, daily rituals of honoring the unseen, I began to relate with IT, like a lover.

The little things that had always filled my days, started to become more poignant. The touch of my lover’s eyes on me, my granddaughter’s hand reaching out to me with her sunny grin. My son’s hug when I walked into his home, while his wife offered me her love, attended by her beautiful smile. Their littlest boy, squirming around on that self-made scoot of his — one leg bent on the floor, the other foot planted flat and pulling him forward. These moments were repeatedly in my life, but I started seeing them & savoring this new sensation that urged me to — “feel that”. It felt like I started to get punctuation marks in a life that had previously been run on sentences and readied me for what I’m living right now

When you raise children, life is a constant blur. There’s little time for sleep, much less self-reflection. But, once they’re grown and moved on, you are left with only yourself. It’s the one job where you know you’ve done well when the object of your life’s focus, leaves you.

Such a brave thing, being a good mother. There are no perks to the job, much less pay or pension, but we keep on doing it. Populating the world with our offspring, filling them with our ceaseless love and attention, and shouldering the blame if they become messed up adults. But it offers a great deal to the construction of a deeply rooted person. Mothering does. The job prepares you for heartache and joy and makes life meaningful.

Full of these ponderings, my current condition and my past endeavors, I started up the car and made my way out the gate and down the dirt road towards civilization. When we first moved here I thought how far away from anything it was and how perfect. The remote nature of it was flawless, yet difficult. We had to be more organized about things and couldn’t risk forgetting something while in town. The long drive offers me a place where little thinking occurs and the scenery and vast expanse of nature fills my eyes and anchors somewhere in my heart. Today it’s a respite from what’s happening.

There’s little time I have to spend away from home and this store holds little nourishment for me, in a practical sense. The liquor aisle, then the bakery catches none of my attention, but they are both adjacent to the wall of dairy products. The hum of the refrigerator’s motors keeping everything cold seems loud to me; I notice that as I grab some crème for tomorrow’s coffee. Then on towards the area where I can get some meat for my dogs and my heart does a lurch. My beautiful boy dog is sick and I become aware of the ache in my body; the potential that he will die sooner than I’m ready to say goodbye to him.

One day he seemed fine; just a nasty cough. Then a brief visit to his vet to find that he’s on death’s door. His heart is too big and he’s struggling to get every breath. My athletic, racing, perfect boy is no longer that way.

Now, everything is meaningful. The tilt of his head and those warm, trusting eyes looking at me with such care. He could always tell me things, but he was so quiet about the lurking danger in his chest. His hid his condition too well, but this is by design. Any animal isn’t going to show you he’s vulnerable. Now that I know, all his reserves have dropped. He’s telling me he wants to stay with us. He’s asking me to help him.

The prognosis is now guarded, where he was so close to death that day in the doctor’s office we left the office in shock. God, I was so ignorant to what he was suffering from, I asked the vet, “so this means we shouldn’t breed him?” He looked at me like I was completely mad, but I didn’t realize that he was telling me our boy may not survive the week.

Everything became laser focused in my world and the months of calibrating and concentrating now made sense. On some level, I knew there was a problem and I was prepared for this. On some deep current — I knew.

All those years of mothering rushed in to greet this outrageous turn and I stepped directly into a new life — again. This time I could direct my energy towards giving this beautiful boy a few more months, or years (if I could manage a few miracles). And so far, we are winning. When the morning sun sings her song to me, I prepare for another day of tending to my perfect, loving, trusting Saluki.

Tragedy can offer grace. The truth of something doesn’t mean we’re done. It can bring something wonderful. Presence can rush in and everything becomes precious. Kindness and love are all that keeps me from despair. That darkness that lurks right beside me is being thwarted. Not because I don’t know it’s there, but because I refuse to let it take over.

As the sun comes up, sending her melodic message of the day’s dawn, I respond. There is no dark switch in my living room, or in my heart. The light will always fill an area, so today, I choose to turn it on again…

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