several friends have recently had to say ‘goodbye’ to their companions — their dogs. from old age to illness the stories are personal and heart-felt. i share this blog-entry as a tribute to all of the people i know (and do not know) who are feeling the absence of such warm and unconditional love.
All Coy-Dogs Go To Heaven
Coyote Sunset with Freckles
photo taken by Mary Caperton Morton, a freelance science and travel writer. all rights reserved
Visit her website at www.marycapertonmorton.com.
Take care of yourself —
you never know when the world will need you.
Again, we have seen the best in people — when life is at risk and there is little control.
I offer thanks…
I know this child. I was she. With few role models to begin the journey, I faced my own mirror and saw a ‘dancer’.
There was no textbook for how family could raise a disabled child with confidence and opportunity. In the late 50s and early 60s few families had the support of established organizations nor were encouraged to meet with one another to share their struggles and successes.
Blessed as a child I knew few limits. My memory takes me to friendships and fun. My memory takes me to travel, family, school and all things that nurture the imagination of a child. The limits that were obvious became challenges (puzzles) to solve. The world was before me and all I wanted to do was move through it with the spirit’s music and rhythm. There were plenty of times when I needed that music to cushion and calm. Every child has to face the hard edges of growing up. These edges were particularly unique for me (as they are for any child growing up with a disability) – I entered the world of medicine, doctors and surgery at a very young age. Recovery from multiple surgeries was hard but to go without I could not have moved forward. So, there was never a question – recovery it was. With encouragement and love from parents and friends, I made my way through those young years and into an adult life filled with opportunity.
“Dancing” takes on many forms and the steps change throughout a lifetime. Ordained an Episcopal priest, I have the honor to lead the steps in faith’s dance, through the grace offered by God’s spirit. Now retired, I am testing the next steps in this dance. Again, the textbooks are few for what the road ahead should look like, which is a good thing because my style would most likely challenge any expectation. As many readers know, I have recently moved. Along with settling in a new home, I am meeting new doctors and other practitioners on a regular basis. To my surprise, there have been several moments when I have been thrown back to hard edges of my childhood. While recently meeting with a new physician, I made mention of how grateful I was to be so ‘healthy’. Her response – ‘yes, you have few immediate health problems which is good. You are in pretty good shape to be so ‘broken’. ‘Broken‘ – a word I have never thought of when describing myself. I may be able to understand her intent but the word used was hurtful.
That same confidence that carried me through childhood, the confidence that knew few limits, is still ever-present – ready to redefine and move ahead with the dance that is before me. I take these new steps grateful that I know the difference between being healthy and being whole. Like the image of this tiny dancer — it is not about seeing the broken – if that is all we see than we miss the beauty before us. She has all she needs.
I know that child, I am she.
It has been more than a month since Lilly moved to her new home. The ache within does not grab with the strength of the early days. I am told great stories. She is running with new four-legged friends. She is sharing her abundant love and care with her companions (the two legged type). Last week I received wonderful pictures of a recent camping trip where Lils actually got her feet wet! She is happy and I am grateful.
Time – the one thing in life that nudges us along when we have little energy to move on our own. Forward – the only way to go without creating unduly and unhealthy resistance. Breath – the one gift that sustains and fills us with the mystery of our Great Creator.
I am thankful for all of these ‘gifts’. Gifts that continue to support me as I live into one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. In a way unforeseen, Lilly and I did what we have always done. We took care of one another. As she delights in her newfound friends and freedom, I am happy and able to go greet each day with my own re-discovered freedom. I can make plans and not be concerned. Lilly is not stressing over my needs ( her responsibility for so long). And I am free to move about with complete focus on all the fun and demanding details of living into a new home and make new friends.
We took care of one another. How I love the irony of life!
We have often talked about that one special thing we will get ‘around to’. This is a wonderful reflection on the importance of ‘now’. For those who haven’t met I introduce you to Millie. She has a beautiful way to inspire and encourage – enjoy!!
MEMORIES AND STORIES
Sitting in the back of the Unit’s Dining Room,
laughing & laughing.
It all goes away, you understand, all the memories…
of family Sunday dinners & Midwest childhoods
& a young girl’s dance.
It ALL goes away, memories & stories
taking flight like birds that have stayed
too long in the Fall, and felt a North Wind.
Awayyyyyyyyyyyy it all goes,
even Dignity, of course —
until all that is left is
laughter & companionship.
What else really matters?
A Flock of Memories will wait for us
on the far side of The Green Hill,
like children excited at our Return. Words by Scott Fisher
For more reflections and inspiration visit:
Born on Easter Sunday, April 1, 2003, today is the birthday of my assist dog, Lilly. Placed in my lap at 8 weeks, by her breeder with the comment, ‘this one would rather be loved than eat.’, I held her close against me all the way home. It would be the first of only a few times I would be able to hold her as she grew quickly in size and height.
There has never been a doubt that she loved attention and wanted to work (even though she can challenge who should set the rules). My companion through the best and worst times of these last nine years, she knows me by heart. Her response to the sound of an object hitting the floor is swift. As she was taught, her work to retrieve the object for me is strategic – placing it higher into my arms until she is certain I can once again hold it safely. Her response to the sound of sadness is immediate. She knows to stay near and offer comfort blessed with intuition.
Our journey has been filled with unexpected turns. She has helped in the work of re-making home as we have moved four times in her nine years (though she is never fond of the sight of boxes and packing tape!). We are just now settling into our newest home and share the hope that boxes will not be needed again for a very long time.
Nine years are considered a long time in the world of relationships. I give thanks this day for Lilly. That we found one another is a miracle! That we can bring one another comfort and strength is a gift. She has worked hard to figure out my next need and this continues.
With much gratitude I celebrate Lilly’s ninth birthday, may God grant her many years!