This is Not What I Intended...
Updated: Dec 20, 2020
So...our dog died.
And, um...wow...I am in pain.
This kind of grief is sort of all consuming, you know?
And I definitely didn't think I would be writing about this as the first post on my new site. In fact, I wrote the original first post while lying next to Tahoe the dog as he slept.
His death was sudden, unexpected, and heartbreaking. And, to be honest, as many awesome lessons as I'm sure there are in something like this...I'm not really at the point of learning them.
But I will say this: Tahoe gave me the gift of presence. He was always present with you. He was always in the moment. He took such joy in sniffing a f*cking tree. I wish I loved anything the way Tahoe loved sniffing a tree. Well actually...I did. I do. I loved Tahoe as much as he loved sniffing trees.
And I guess that's the lesson, right? In a time where everything feels completely out of whack, we are being asked to identify the things that we love as much as my and my husband Louis' perfect dog loved sniffing trees. And not only to identify them, but to hold them. If anything, the sh*t show that has been 2020 has made us all a little bit like Tahoe. The world has completely stopped for many of us, and we are being asked to root ourselves firmly in the present. And being in the present means dealing with the feelings that inevitably come up when we can't run from them to the activities of daily life.
And that does make you start to take stock of what you truly value and what is just...filler.
And that's the new focus for me.
Removing the filler to make room for what fills me.
And I mean truly fills me. Fills me and fulfills me. Because I have spent a lot of my life preoccupied with things that do not matter, due to this terrifying sense of not-enough-ness that plagues my psyche.
You see, God, or source, or the Universe, or what have you, blessed me with one of the most polarizing personalities, as well as an almost pathological need to be liked by others. This causes my "need - to - be - liked - system" to override my self-preservative one, which leads to me holding lots and lots of bags that aren't mine to carry.
And, at the time I picked them up, or was handed them, those bags in my arms felt so necessary. They felt like the most important things in the Universe, and I would just have to make my way through the world and get used to their added weight. But, when Tahoe passed, when in a split second we went from playing and jumping and belly rubs to "there's nothing more we can do," I was hit with the stark realization that I didn't need to take up the precious space in my heart with things that were not meant for me. As C. Joybell C. writes:
“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy."
And, while I knelt with my husband, on the tile floor of the pet hospital, holding our dog's little paw and telling him how thankful I was for him, I realized that my grief and fear of the pain of missing him were heavy things I did want to carry. While the unnecessary drama, the toxic friendships, the constant refrain of my inner critic yelling: "IF PEOPLE DON'T LIKE YOU, YOU WON'T SURVIVE!" Were thousand pound stones that I wanted to put down.
I was tired of being consumed by this craving for people to approve of me that seemed unquenchable. I was tired of running through conversations in my head, analyzing every word, wondering, "did I get it right? Will I be enough now?"
With Tahoe's soft, perfect paw in my hands, I was overwhelmed with the feeling of, as Alice Hoffman wrote, "a love that even time will lie down and be still for."
And that's how I intend to live the rest of my life.
Only making room for the things, and the moments, and the people, that light me up so much, time itself seems to stop.
And it's that intention that placed me back on my mat after a sleepless night, when I said goodbye to my best buddy.
All I had wanted to do was lay in front of the tv and zone out.
But then I thought of what Tahoe brought to my life that was so special: that presence. Tahoe was always present. He was always right there with you. He focused on the here and the now.
And sitting in front of the television trying to push down all the pain I was feeling, seemed incongruous to my desire to live a life that would honor my furry friend.
So, despite the terror of what I would find in the silence, I meditated.
For me, meditation has become a reminder that the only way is through. You can’t go around, you can’t go over, you have to go through, if you want to get where you’re meant to be.
When I finally opened my eyes, Tahoe's favorite blanket clutched in my hands, I did, indeed, feel like my heart was going to fall out of my butt and onto the floor. Still, I was also so glad to be feeling so terrible because, as the saying goes: “to know great grief is to know great love,” and how lucky have I been to know such great love as the one I have for Tahoe the dog.
I'd like to close out this post with two quotes that have been circling my mind since Tahoe crossed his Rainbow Bridge. One, is by John Green, and the other, is part of a Robert Frost poem, all of which had made me think of Tahoe.
"Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. But, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days and I'm grateful." - John Green
"I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches."
- Robert Frost
Thank you for reading.
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