Letter to Gracelyn

My dearest Gracelyn~

You are the most beautiful, loveliest, smartest, wisest, kindest, funniest person that I know.  And the fact that you are my daughter is simply delicious.  Spending each and every day with you is a joy.  I could not imagine my life any other way.  I thank the Goddess, the Universe, the Great Spirit, the Great Mystery, everything there is to thank that I am lucky enough to be your mother.  To be your guide on this journey here on Earth.  

I treasure our time together.  I treasure our relationship.  I sincerely hope that as we move forward on our shared journey, the relationship we share will continue to grow and flourish.

As your mother, I am keenly aware of the passing of time.  That is no secret to you.  I have tried to not be too melancholy about the speed with which you have grown up.  I have tried to make sure that you know just how very much I would not trade one single second of ‘now’ for any day or moment in the past.  It has all been a wondrous treat, each successive day outdoing the ones that have been put to bed.  

All of this being said, I think that both you and I are faced with the difficulties of acknowledging the passage of time, the changing of the seasons if you will.  We know but we don’t want to know that everything is marching on, forcing us to let go to make room for what is to come.  Letting go is so very, very hard isn’t it?  Letting go of things, tangible objects, as we grow out of them, or they become old and frayed.  Letting go of seasons as the winter and snow move to spring and then to summer and then to fall.  Only to start all over again.  Letting go of old friends, like our very dear Buck.  And soon Belle.  

Life is a series of letting-gos, isn’t it?  It is a constant snapping to attention of our conscious thought that we need to sever a tie or ties.  That we need to move on, move forward, move upward.  We need to make room for what is to come, for the bright, bold splashes of color just waiting to be experienced.   We need to live without attachments so that we may be unencumbered to receive the bounty that this world has to offer.  

It is my duty, my job, my responsibility as your mother to help you learn how to let go.  To help you learn how to move forward without difficulty.  To greet each new change in your life, in our lives, with open arms, a willing heart and a happy soul.   

For a while now, we have danced around the edges of some necessary letting-gos.  Both of us, I think, not eager to meet them head-on for fear of what that might mean.  Or what that might look like.  How it might change our experiences going forward.

I have avoided answering the unasked questions for as long as possible, not knowing how to say what needs to be said.  But I’m no longer comfortable with avoidance and I’ve had to think carefully about what words I should use.

I also am acutely aware that I want to be the one to whom you come when you need help, when you need a problem solved, when you have a question that needs answering.  This means the hard ones as well as the easy ones…..I don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing which one I’ll try to solve.  I need to be there for all of them.

Why am I writing all of this you may be thinking at this point.  Truth be told, I’m stalling.  Sometimes I can say it better with the written word, but now I’m not so sure. 

You are concerned about celebrating Easter.  Not so much because we are a very religious family and we believe in the Christian version of the holiday and you are excited that Lent will finally be over and Jesus will rise from the dead.  But more because of a big, slightly irreverent bunny rabbit with an Australian accent that will deposit loads and loads of chocolate in this household.  Correct?

Which is a wonderful reason to be excited, I do agree.  Chocolate is perfection.  Right up there with coffee.

I’m sure you’ve picked up on my hesitation, my reluctance.   But I also know that you are very, very smart and have danced around the asking as well as I have danced around the answering.  

“Are you the Easter Bunny?”  That is a question that all children eventually ask their parents?  Just like “are you Santa?”  

The answer is not simple, actually.  Because really, I am not Santa.  Nor am I the Easter Bunny.  Or the Tooth Fairy.  Or Jack or the Sandman.  There is no one Santa.  No one Easter Bunny.  

These Guardians are bigger than any one person.  Their work has gone on longer than any of us have lived.  What Santa and his friends do is simple, but it is powerful.  They teach children how to believe.  How to believe in something that can’t be seen or touched.  How to believe in magic.

Both you and I know how very important magic is, how very important it is to believe in things we cannot see.   To believe that the Universe is holding a message for us when one of our Animal friends crosses our paths.  Or when we sense the Thin Moments, those places that Celtic beliefs describe as passages to the other worlds.  

Magic is believing in things you cannot see.   Christmas is magic.  You and I have experienced this from the beginning.  Long before you were trying to get born into this existence of yours, I loved Christmas.  I adored the Christmas season.  The lights, the music, the smells, the tree, the decorations, the finding the perfect gifts to give, the baking.  All of it.  It’s all magic to me.  Then I had a sweet little angel baby doll that I could teach all the same magic to.  The Universe blessed me with you!  On the Winter Solstice no less, intensifying the sheer joy of the season.  Santa is simply one part of the magic of the Christmas season.  

We all need to have magic in our lives.  We need to be able to believe in something that we cannot see or touch.  Maybe that is the miracle of Santa and Pete and the Bunny and all the other Guardians.  They are the beginning of our belief in the magic that is all around us.  We must be able to convince ourselves that even if something can’t be held in our hands or measured, it still exists.  Like love.  Or  the belief in yourself that you are everything you need to be at any given moment.  

I have been the person who helps the magic get done.  Just like you and your magic tricks.  I have been the magician who fills the stockings and wraps the presents and hides the eggs.  (Yes, Dad helps. 🙃)  Just like my mother and father did for me.  And their mothers and fathers did for them.  Perhaps you will someday be the magician for your own children (or Bella’s).   The real magic for me has been seeing the joy and discovery on your face at these special times.  

But this doesn’t make me Santa.  And it won’t make you Santa, or the Easter Bunny either.  Because, as I wrote above, Santa and the rest of the Guardians are bigger than any one person.  Santa and the Bunny and the Guardians are love and magic and hope and happiness.  I’m just helping to facilitate their message.  

The miracle of Christmas and the Winter Solstice and Easter are not in what we get or in what we see, but what we feel and imagine and in what we give to create more love and magic and hope and happiness around us.  Your feelings of Christmas or Easter or the Winter Solstice are yours, to hold in your most cherished place and wrap them up with pretty paper and a colorful ribbon and bow.  To store your hopes and dreams and magic in, to be shared with those around you, to be given out to bless someone else’s life with.  That is the true meaning of these holidays I think.  To make them so magical and so beautiful and so filled with joy and traditions and smells and sights and sounds that we want to share as much as we can with others.  To give that magic and beauty and joy away to others.  

By letting go of some of our childhood beliefs, we make room for other beliefs.  We allow new and different magic to flood in and fill up the space.  It doesn’t mean we won’t celebrate these times and days and seasons as before.  We’ll still have the magic.  It’s just that we’re moving along in our journey to the next stop.   It means that I don’t have to avoid looking you in the eye for fear I’ll give something away.  It means I don’t have to worry about spoiling your magic, because we’ll be creating new joys and adventures.

I will still fill your stocking and hide your eggs.  I consider myself on the Guardians team and it has been my greatest joy to do so.  You are on the Guardians team too now.  I figure it’s our job to make sure that the brilliance of the magic is never dulled, that those around us can be reminded of it always.  

Sort of like the Force, you know?  It’s all connected my dearest.  The tapestry of our lives is woven through with silver and gold iridescent threads.  If we are quiet, calm and still we will be blessed and able to see these wondrous strands.  It is our sacred duty to share that lustre with those we meet along the way, to pass on the magic.

We will still have all we have had at these special times.  It’s just that now you’ll be more a part of the magic.  Learning how to create and give and make things special.  We’ll still bake cookies and dye eggs and decorate and watch movies.  We’ll revel in the magic of all that life has to offer at these special times.

I love you with every fiber of my being.  I am so very proud of the person you are, the person you’re becoming, the person you are yet to be.  

I love you to the moon and back, my dearest Gracelyn Cassidy.

Love, 

Mom 

(aka Guardian Team Member)

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Mom, quit being so melodramatic.

You know you’ve done it right when your beautiful, brilliant, wise, all-knowing daughter parrots back to you some of your bestest lines.

I made a statement the other day and maybe, just maybe, it might have been a wee bit on the dramatic side.  The 12 year old human that I live with immediately came back with “Mom, quit being so melodramatic.”

That stopped me in my tracks.  I realized that ok, yes, kind of, maybe, I was waxing poetic and entered into the realms of exaggerated melodrama.  As is my wont.  On occasion.  Many occasions.

I realized after a bit of reflection that I can easily get to that state these days.  I also realized that I routinely use that same line on the aforementioned 12 year old.  I think I’m hyper attuned to wanting to raise a daughter that is strong, self-confident, level-headed, intelligent, even-keeled, rational, wise and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.  I want her to not meet the world with the emotional turmoil that I experienced during my high school and after years.  I want for her all the peace and calm I so desperately sought and did not encounter until well into my 4th decade on this beautiful planet.

For whatever reason I experience the extremes of emotion.  I always have, I do now, I forever will (I expect)–world without end, awomen.  (A shoutout to my Catholic upbringing.)  My husband, on the other hand, is pretty even keel.  It takes A LOT to shake that tree.  He is forever telling me “don’t look behind you, keep your eyes ahead of you.”  Now, he’s talking about when I’m driving, not looking in my rear-view mirror so much, paying attention to what’s in front of me.  But every time he says this I am reminded of how it applies to life as well.  I can easily get stuck in remorse and regret about what has been and then jump right into worry and fear about what might be.  Forgetting to be in the now.  Right here, right now.

Living in the moment takes away the melodrama.  Living right here, right now doesn’t afford the time to spin in circles, creating a whirlwind of chaos and worry.

I have wanted to teach my daughter how to greet life, each day, each minute, with equanimity.  With a  sense of peace and calm and acceptance and gratitude.  Some days I think I get there and I think I’m doing ok getting that life lesson through.

Or at least I thought I was doing a fine job of that.

I realized, after her comment to me last week, that I’ve let the last two and a half years affect my psyche.  Who hasn’t really?  I don’t think we can just put our heads down and ignore the drama and the chaos that is our current government.  That would be an abdication of our responsibility as citizens of this democracy.  So I’ve kept us in the fight, in the ring.  We’ve marched, we’ve written postcards, we’ve bought t-shirts.  Well, I bought the t-shirts.  Her pajamas include an HRC campaign t-shirt and an Elizabeth Warren “Nevertheless she persisted” t-shirt.  The news is on most days (luckily no television here, but my trusty satellite radio beams cable news shows easily.)

We are saturated in the daily hijinks of the man-baby running our government, as well as his minions.

I am fast approaching enough, to be honest.  I am starting to change to the jazz station more frequently.  I scan my Twitter feed in the morning for the updates and then log off.  There is nothing new to learn.  Every day is simply a rinse, lather, repeat episode.  He does or says something outlandishly outlandish, followed by general outrage and disbelief (as if we could possibly be surprised anymore by anything) and then we move on to the next one.

I’m tired.  I’m exhausted.  I’m being melodramatic because I’ve lost my center.  I’m not on an even keel and I don’t like feeling this way.

The chaos and drama and hate and fear-mongering of the last two and a half years have been truly mind-numbing and exhausting.  They have all collectively affected our spirits and if you’re like me, they have drained you of your essence.  We are better than this.  I am better than this.  I am more than a whole bunch of f-bombs.  I am more than the melodrama.

I am the mother of a 12 year old girl fast growing up to being a young woman who will embark on adventures yet to be told.  I have the formidable task of preparing her to meet those adventures with a clear head, loving heart and indomitable spirit.  (And that’s not being melodramatic.)

Blessed be.

 

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Egads. It’s been months. MONTHS.

Good morning from the frigid side of our mountain. Living on the side of a mountain, north side to be exact, has benefits and not-so-much-benefits.  Very little sun during the winter months is one of the not-so-much-benefits.  Interesting and intriguing visitors is one of the best benefits.

In the past few weeks we’ve been visited by foxes, a resident moose (not our Matilda, but the man of the house thinks it may be Matilda’s 3 year old daughter—it’s always best not to question these assertions, but instead, to just let them hang out there in the air…)—-where was I?  Oh yes, our visitors also included two (2) male bighorn sheep!  I kid you not.  Aengus got all hot and bothered, running to the front window, the back door, barking up a storm and just generally trying to get our attention.  When the munchkin-who-no-longer-really-qualifes-as-a-munchkin that I live with decided to find out what the hullabaloo was about, she excitedly exclaimed “MOM!!!  Get in here!!!”  The photos are fuzzy I do apologize and only of the second as the first had already jumped the fence and headed up the hill.  The deer were gorgeous and looked healthy.  The next day we saw 7 up on the hill as we drove out, including a buck with a magnificent rack.  We are entertained daily by two squirrels who chase each other away from the ground below the bird feeders, though one day they had a face-off.

So in general, winter here may not bring the warmth and the blessing of the sun, but instead if offers a smorgasbord of nature.  It’s difficult to get a lot done as we find ourselves watching the myriad birds flitting about, the antics of the squirrels or the beauty of the hooved ones as they pick their way through the snow.

My blog has been through a few iterations over the last many years.  Posts about the ridiculous situations I have found myself in while living on the side of a mountain in the middle of nowhere, the beauty of our surroundings, the revolving seasons that seem to be felt more keenly here.  When I read back through the archives I find I repeat myself at certain times of year, especially at the changing of the seasons.  I specifically didn’t write about it this fall as I felt like a broken record.  At least I’m consistent, eh?

And then there are all the political posts.  I’m certainly not one to keep my opinions to myself and I’ve made sure to type them out from time to time.  I was with some family last Friday and the subject of Michelle Obama and her comments on “leaning in” came up.  Boy did I unload on that one.  I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it here.  Certainly it is a hot topic.  Women in the workforce.  I call hogwash, bullpucky, malarkey on that whole “Lean In” thing.  Ms. Sandberg doesn’t know a thing about raising a child and attempting to work  outside the home.  Oh sure, she may do it.  But with a full-time nanny parked adjacent to her office and a cadre of help at home. I feel I am allowed to speak on this issue with some authority as I possess not just one, but two professional degrees.  I am also a full-time homeschooling mother. I work outside the home.  I gave up my veterinary career to raise my daughter.  I knew there was no way, NO WAY, I could do both and do them well.  I give 1000% of me to whatever endeavor I am engaged in.  That 1000% could not be split and either my daughter (and thus my husband and home) would suffer or my veterinary patients would suffer.  Instead I work as a physical therapist in human medicine (the ICK factor is off the charts),still trying to wear all the other hats I’m supposed to, here at home.  Lean In my patootie.

Whew, that was a rant.  What I was going to write was that my political voice has been screaming at me on the inside but I’m afraid to put the words down in black on the white.  The last two years have been tumultuous.  They’ve been a seriously long bad dream.  I was aware of the insanity of it all this weekend, when, working with a patient, after I was asking questions trying to determine cognitive status, he blurted out “the president is Trump.”  The last questioner (not sure how many hours before me) had used the question “who is the president” as a marker for helping to determine how oriented this person was.  Normally, I simply mute the television when it’s blaring Fox News and I steer FAR away from anything political when I’m in a patient’s room.  This time I said “Nope. I’m not talking about Trump.”  I realize this is not a big statement and it’s not really political by any means, but to me it was huge.  For one, I said his damn name out loud in the hospital, away from here, my safe haven.  I acknowledged, in a way, that he is the president. (damn it)  And I was forceful and I moved on.  Baby steps.  Meaning, I’m tired of being silent.  I’m tired of the insanity.  I walked away from that room sort of shaking my head at the reality of the situation.  That man is our president.  Still.  It has been 2 long years of absolute insanity.   And I cannot believe this is where we’re at.  My daughter grew up knowing our Republic was in good hands with a sane administration and Barack Obama at the helm.  My daughter fell asleep on the couch on November 8, 2016 with tears in her eyes, hoping against hope that what she knew to be happening wasn’t happening.  She has now spent formative years of her life listening to the blabbering, blathering idiot in the Oval Office.  Every time he comes on the radio, it’s a race to see who can turn the station faster…her or me.  After which she exclaims something akin to “I know more words than he does” or “doesn’t he even know x, y or z???”  Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

An education for her I guess.  We’ve been to more marches than I can count.  We’re well versed in all things political here and certainly know more than our esteemed president about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Congress, the history of our nation.  Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

And yet, what has that gained us? A mother (me) who swears A LOT.  I had to promise that when he is finally gone and dear Goddess of the Universe erased from our brains, I will stop swearing.  It’s gained us an education I guess.  It’s increased our civic contributions.  My daughter can draw a mean caricature of the orange buffoon in the Oval.  I’ll share it here.  You’ll see what I mean.

So many words.  So little time.  We must get started on Chemistry, Logic, Math (algebra).  With time out for watching the birds and the squirrel games.

Blessed be.

(I, gasp, deleted the photos of the beautiful deer. BUT! Stop the presses.  Aengus is going nuts right now!!  Coyote.  Big, fluffy coyote.  Too fast for me to get a photo.)

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The absence of words

Those who know me know that me with an absence of words is, well, odd.  To say the least.

I have so many words, so much of the time.  And I rarely fail to use them.  With the dear husband (you remember him right?  Mr. Man’s Man/Woman’s Man/Everyman/Superman that I live with) when I pepper him with phone calls all day every day.  Or bombard him when he comes in the door at the end of a long day, seeking peace and quiet and the asylum of his serene (HA!) home.

Or my poor patients at the hospital, wondering who this damn, cheery person in blue scrubs is that has the temerity to waltz into their room and suggest exercise?!?!  To whom I then launch into a stream of words that surely has them wondering what dimension they’ve entered.

Or my daughter, during another history lesson, when I wax poetic (I love this phrase, but in all seriousness, what does it mean???) about some part of our shared existence.  There are so many things to teach her and share with her and tell her so that she can venture forth into this world and make informed decisions.

Just the other day, at drop-off for summer camp, I talked with another mom for over an hour!!!  Standing in the hot sun, in the street next to our parked vehicles.  We covered a lot of ground.  But oddly, she avoided me the rest of the week.  Not enough hours in the day for my rambling loquaciousness I think.

My sister will call and two hours later we end the conversation.  But then there is radio silence for awhile.

It’s like I’m bubbling over with chatter, jargon, utterances that threaten to overwhelm those who come into close contact with me.  I should wear a warning sign:

“Enter into conversation with at your own risk.  You have been warned.  Danger, chance of losing hours of your time listening to WORDS.”

I don’t mean to be so voluminous with the verbiage.  I really don’t.  There are just so many things I can contain in my cranium without them coming hurling out in some form or fashion.

Except lately.  Yes, there was the drop-off this last week.  But I am finding that the voices in my head, shouting to be let out, shouting to get the words down in some way onto the paper, or the computer aren’t coalescing into coherent thoughts.  And they seem to be receding.  Which, some might say, would be a good thing.  To not walk around with drums banging around inside your cabeza on a minutely basis.  To not be constantly distracted by WORDS.

But my words have always been comforting.  My voices are comforting.  They’re a way for me to organize my thoughts, to help find a way to communicate my feelings.  My voices are  an avenue for my expression.  And my expression is the essence of me.

I am losing touch with that essence of me.  My voices are growing silent.  My words are not banging the drums. I don’t know exactly why, but I suspect that my spirit is breaking.  The daily onslaught of the news has begun to create in me the necessity of putting up walls.  I am walling off my words because the enormity of what is happening is simply too much to comprehend, too much to organize into those coherent thoughts, too much to deal with.

When I look inside, I am not seeing the tapestry of my WORDS, but instead blank, whiteness.  And that is frightening.  I force myself to think about something….the children standing by, crying, unable to speak the language, wondering why their mother and father are being taken away, left to fend on their own, noone to console them…or the mothers who don’t know where their children are…

…my heart starts beating faster, my respirations increase, I begin to feel a sort of panic welling up inside of me.  Centered in the middle of my chest, like a little, swirling tornado that threatens to erupt.  This is why people speak about “heartache.”  Because it actually feels uncomfortable right there where my heart lies.  I worked with a homeopath for a long time on identifying what was happening inside my body, during a time of extreme stress in my life.  Stress that was threatening to pull me under.  We worked for a long time on naming what I was physically feeling and then finding ways to get past it.

I feel as if I’m back there again.  I do not know how to not be affected by what is happening in our country.  Forget the entire world, the starving polar bears, the melting in Antarctica, the erupting volcanoes and complete destruction of islands due to hurricanes, the massive wildfires. That’s enough on any given day to cause a migraine to arrive and visit me with its wrath.

The destruction in our country, in America, is becoming more than I can bear.  It is beginning to affect me physically.  And I know I am not alone in this.  I am erecting walls against my words as a protection mechanism.  Because the words will unleash a torrent of pain and suffering for those being irreparably damaged by the void of leadership in this country.  The words that I am walling off will open a window into the devastation of lives and I am so very afraid of being sucked under and not being able to surface.

That is my fear.  I do not think I can handle another photograph of another crying child, or read another story of another woman who has had her child pulled from her arms.  I cannot read another story about the island of Puerto Rico without power and people dying because there were not able to get to dialysis.  My heart is overwhelmed.  And I am beginning to feel it physically.

America, what have we become that the president can use children as bargaining chips?  Where is the conscience of the leaders of this country?  Why is this happening?

The children are suffering.  This cannot be who we are.

Because I have closed off my words, I will end this with some which are comforting, if only for a fraction of a second:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers 

by Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –

And sore must be the storm –

That could abash the little Bird-

That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –

And on the strangest Sea –

Yet – never – in Extremity,

It asked a crumb – of me.

Blessed be.
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A hole in my soul tonight.

BUCK

~2000 to 2018

It is with a heavy yet grateful heart that I sit at my computer to write.
Our dearest, toughest, bestest canine friend left this Earthly world for the next chapter in his journey.
Buck came to us in July 2009.  He was walking in the Saratoga 4th of July parade with his human helper, Cheryl Bressler.  She was trying to find him a forever home as he had been living in the Casper shelter for more than a year.  Gracelyn was in the BOB (our version of a jogging stroller) waving her flag, and I was peering up at the hot late morning sun wondering if I’d put enough sunscreen on her face and mine.  I glanced back at the parade and there was a chocolate Labrador Retriever staring intently right at me.  AT. ME.  The Saratoga parade is not huge, but it is a community gathering so there are always many, many people lined up on both sides of the street.
Buck stared at me.  And kept staring as his human, Cheryl, walked on down the street.  I couldn’t get the look from him out of my mind.  He had keen, brown eyes that seemed to be trying to get something across to me.
We left the parade, walked home (because in Saratoga you can do that) and I called Greg to tell him about the chocolate Labrador with the intense eyes.  Then I called Cheryl to find out details.  She said he was staying at the small shelter in Saratoga, by the police station.  We could certainly go pick him up and see how he did with us for a day or two.
Gracelyn and I headed over.  Buck was beside himself!  He jumped as high as the gate latch, all four feet off the ground at the same time.  Briefly, I wondered what I’d gotten us into.  But his exuberance at being with humans was, well, charming.  We got him into the car and home and into the yard where he could meet Timmy, our aged Springer Spaniel.  They got along famously.  Greg drove up to meet him and we both decided that night Buck was not going back to the shelter.
And so began our life with Buck.  He was nine or 10 years old, per the shelter papers, and had been surrendered because he “ran away.”  Hmmm…we had a fenced yard, what could go wrong?  He was positive for Giardia and weighed only 57 lbs with raging diarrhea.  Again, what could go wrong?
Many, many breakouts later (including being picked up by the Saratoga policeman that Greg subsequently sweet-talked into giving him back to us) and over a year of ground hamburger and baked sweet potatoes and Buck was well on the way to health.
We left Saratoga and moved down to the ranch where Buck quickly set up a morning routine: scout the fence line for break-ins from the coyotes, head up the mountain to do Lord knows what and eventually sun himself in the yard.
He became a foster parent to our missing Max.  They were best buddies and Buck taught him everything…including how to roam up the mountain and across the river.  Not such a great lesson and Max didn’t come home one day.
Buck became a foster parent once again when we brought home Aengus, a sort of step-brother to Max (same mom, a year later).  He dutifully taught him how to lift his leg and to roughhouse.  All within a fenced yard so no checking the fence line down by the barn or heading up the mountain.
The last few winters have been pretty hard on our Buck as his hips have protested the cold and ice.  Each winter I thought was going to be the last, but by some miracle, Buck would make it, the snow would melt, the sun would warm the ground and he’d be out there laying in the grass that was trying to sprout.  And we’d go through the summer, then the fall and I’d dread the winter coming, knowing it would be so difficult for him to manage on the snow and ice.  But he just kept going, our own Energizer Bunny.  Never complaining, always with the wagging tail.
No matter how cold or how much snow, every time I’d return home from a weekend of work, he’d come to greet me on the path to the door.
The last month though Buck seemed to not be Buck anymore.  Sort of a shell of his former self.  Old age does that, shrinking the physical body, clouding the senses.  He slept a lot, but was also uncomfortable a lot.
I procrastinated.  I did not want my rescued chocolate Labrador with the intense brown eyes to leave me.
I know about death of beloved canine companions.  I have lost several.  Each one left an indelible mark on my soul.   And a hole in my heart when their Earthly journey was through.
To me it seemed that Buck was hanging on, holding on with what strength he could muster.  I just couldn’t figure out why.  I wondered if maybe he was waiting until our missing Max came home.  I wondered if he was waiting for us to find another little buddy for Aengus.
I never wondered if he was holding on for me.
It finally came to me last night, that maybe, just maybe, he WAS holding on for me.  For me to be alright with him leaving.  For me to be OK with him moving on.  For me to accept the Circle of Life and understand that he had been on this earth 18 or 19 years, much longer than normal for Labrador Retrievers, and that it was simply time for him to go.  That his body couldn’t handle much more…he would do it for me…and he had been doing it for me, but it was costing him.
So, with a heavy heart yet a so very grateful heart, I gave him the gift of death today.  At 3:00 pm, Buck left his physical body.  And left a hole in my soul.
My chocolate Labrador with the intense brown eyes was a spiritual being having a canine experience.  And wasn’t I the lucky one to be able to share it with him.
Thank you Buck for your time here with us.  Thank you Great Spirit/Great Mystery/the Universe for the gift of his life.
Blessed Be.
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Time for happy thoughts.

Happy thoughts like the kind that make you laugh so hard you float up to the ceiling for a tea party with Mary Poppins and Bert and the kids.

Or happy thoughts that make you fly again like Peter Banning when he remembers how to be a Lost Boy in Never Never Land.  Bang-a-rang!  (I miss Robin Williams. He was a perfect Peter Pan who forgot he was Peter Pan and then remembered again. Oops…not so happy.  Bang-a-rang Robin Williams wherever your beautiful spirit is flying today!)

Happy thoughts like when you look outside all of a sudden and see nothing but big, fat, white flakes falling from the heavens, blanketing the trees and the hills and the Jungle Fort out back.

Happy thoughts like the first sip of the first cup of coffee in the morning.  Ahhhh, nirvana.

I have found it so easy to feel like I’m drowning in the ugliness and the chaos and the inhumanity of the current state of affairs in this country.

My last post spoke to the jumbled-up-ness of my psyche as it tries to digest the news of the past week, let alone the past one and a half years.  Putting a misogynistic, sexual predator who defends domestic abusers in the White House will likely be remembered as one of America’s absolute worst acts ever.  Ever.  The psychic trauma of this last year and a half for those of us who don’t subscribe to the beliefs of the xenophobic, racist, sexist bully’s regime is great and may take years to recover from.

It’s been a delicate dance since November 2016.  Too much news and politics and I yell at the radio and say bad words and feel knots in my stomach.  Not enough news and politics and I feel that I’ll miss something that will be the turning point, the coup de grace, the final blow to this national nightmare.  From which we can all wake up and resume being civilized humans in a civilized society again.  (Nota bene:  dearest daughter Gracelyn won’t let me change the station too often, asking me if I remember what happened the last time I consciously did that?  She’ll answer me in her sweet, sing-song voice:  “Comey was fired.”  And so we leave it on the news station.  I think we’re both just waiting for words that will make us have faith again.)

I published the last post (My “And So I Stayed” story) on another site on Sunday morning and was overwhelmed by the responses.  Affirmations of what I’d written, stories of others’ experiences, kindnesses, love, gratitude, appreciation…just generally the best part of our collective humanity.  It was truly humbling.

And so freeing.  I have felt a bit lighter since initially getting the words out.  Sunshine truly is Nature’s best disinfectant.

Sunshine.  That’s a happy thought.  Usually in the middle of winter, I’m content for gray days with snow and blustery winds and freezing temperatures.  Perfect for sledding or skiing or drinking hot cocoa (for her) and hot coffee (for me).  Or snowball fights, or making forts, or throwing snowballs.  But this winter hasn’t turned out to be much of a winter, with a paltry amount of snow on the ground and bare spots every where you turn.  We had mud in the drive already.  Mud.  And exposed grass in the front.  It’s only the middle of February.  I don’t care what that groundhog said.  I don’t see much winter left.  So when it gets like this, I think my Spring Fever sets in and I’d just rather get to the sunshine.  And the sprouting grass and the buds on the aspen trees.  And the sun rising higher, not hidden behind the mountain on its shallow arc across the sky.  Instead, blazing a path right overhead.

So sunshine is my happy thought today.

“You’ll never know dear, how much I love you….please don’t take my sunshine away.”

Blessings be.

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And so I stayed…

The first bloody nose happened not long after we started dating.  But he was sincerely sorry. So I stayed.

The yelling and the name-calling started not long after we became engaged.  But he was, always, sincerely sorry.  So I stayed.

The second bloody nose happened after we were happily married.  But again, he was sincerely sorry.  So I stayed.

The bruises, both physical and emotional, were sprinkled throughout the relationship.  The fault was always mine.  Or that’s how he made it seem.  So I stayed.

Because how could anyone else ever put up with me? How could anyone else ever love me as much as he did?  Tolerating my hysterical outbursts, my neediness, my emotional swings (hormones anyone?).  Who else would stick around, if not him?  So I stayed.

One time I fought back.  My open hand connected with his face.  He took to the bed, gave me the cold shoulder, wouldn’t respond to my pleading, my begging for forgiveness.  Finally, after much groveling on my part, he said “how could you hit me?  I can’t believe you hit me.”  I had no words to say except “I’m so sorry.”  Over and over and over.  And I stayed.

I was ashamed.  I was embarrassed.  I was humiliated.  Me, the smart one.  Me, the feminist.  Me, the one who seemed to have it all together.  How could I possibly have let this happen to me?  I began to internalize the emotional abuse, began to turn on myself, began to doubt myself.  Maybe all the things he said to me, about me, were true.  Maybe I was a lunatic, a crazy bitch, a nutcase.  Maybe I did deserve to be pushed around, to be bullied by his size and his strength.  Maybe I was worthless.  So I stayed.

I never found the words that would have stood up for my battered self.  I never found the courage to stand my ground, to say “NO MORE.”  I never found the love for myself that would have enabled me to feel I was worth so much more than what I was getting.

In retrospect, the end of the marriage was a mutual parting of ways, after time spent apart, for reasons due to school, residencies, jobs.  Once again, though, I was a coward.    My best friend ever, my beloved Golden Retriever Calvin was diagnosed with lymphoma and died within weeks.  I was devastated.  Two weeks later, he called to say he was filing the divorce papers.  Not “Happy Birthday. How are you?  Do you miss Calvin?”  Emotionally abusive, in his way, to the end.  I never confronted him.  I hid behind the age-worn excuse of “we both want different things out of life, so we should go our separate ways.”  It seemed easier to not say anything.  Just like it had been easier not to say anything during the ten years we were together.

I thought by signing the papers, by taking back my name, I would be shedding that part of me that had been abused.  That by walking away, the scars would disappear and I could pretend as if none of it had happened.

Funny thing about scar tissue though…it doesn’t lay down in nice, neat, straight, parallel lines that fit perfectly into the lanes of life.  Scar tissue forms in clumps that can knot up and disrupt the best laid plans.  Scar tissue can form and lay low for a while, not causing any problems.  Until one day, life tries to travel down that path and WHAMMO! BAM! Road block.  Cause there’s no moving smoothly over ginormous balled-up adhesions.  There are triggers, I will be honest.  I have a personal space now that if I feel is being invaded, I will defend mightily.  I can’t watch movies that have even the slightest hint of domestic physical abuse without my heart rate accelerating and my respirations increasing.  I have been angry of late.  At the bullies in our world…the men in positions of power, the stories that are coming out, the ones not told, the ones not believed.

The stigma of being “one who stayed” rears its head often in my life.  The father of my daughter, my second husband, has said countless times over the years that he just cannot understand how a woman would go back for more abuse.  We have this conversation a lot. I used to get pretty worked up when I was trying to explain it to him.  I’m far enough away from it now that I have the ability to dial down the emotion so that I don’t explode out of my skin. He has a hard time reconciling the knowledge of me, his wife who is a passionate feminist, who has two professional medical degrees, who is a successful parent/homeschool teacher/employee outside the home, as ever being “one who stayed.”  I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve tried to explain it.  But to be honest, it’s as if I’m speaking ancient Greek and he’s speaking Cherokee (which is in his family tree, so I can say that without being disrespectful).  To him, it is unfathomable that a woman would stay in a relationship with a man who is physically abusive.  To him, that woman is simply stupid.

And therein lies the stigma.  And the dichotomy.  I stayed.  I am not stupid.  I am actually a pretty smart person.  But. I. Stayed.

I anticipate running into another clump of scar tissue soon.  Our daughter is 11 years old now.  She is strong, in every sense of the word.  She is physically strong, but she is also emotionally strong.  Strong-willed and strongly opinionated.  She is passionate and intelligent and has a fine sense of right and wrong. How do I tell her that her mother was “one who stayed?”

And dear Goddess of the Universe, how can I help her be one who won’t?

 

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