Train of Thought
Let me off at the next stop
In my riding lesson last Saturday, my trainer was working with me on feeling how Trudy was moving. I had to concentrate and then say out loud which foot was landing. Right front, left front, right rear, left rear. Not by looking but strictly by feeling what the body beneath me was doing. It was a great way to focus, to connect, and to tune into the present.
Lately I’ve been finding myself doing something similar in daily my life as I try to function, try to stay present, even in the midst of a gathering storm. Left foot, right foot, one in front of the other.
That seems easy when things are fine, and you know the task in front of you. When you face something that makes sense and you understand like decorating a house, buying a new car, even starting a new job. But it can seem completely impossible when the safety or health of someone you care about is in jeopardy.
My sister and I are very different people, and while we have always shared a profound love of animals and a robust sense of humor, we disagree on many things. But I love her dearly and when she recently experienced a potentially serious health scare, it was terrifying to me. After some frightening days she is, thankfully, recovering.
It’s fair to say I’ve had some loss in my life. My brother, friends, relatives, countless pets, my parents, all gone. Every loss a scar on my heart. There is nothing so difficult as being the one left behind to miss what is no more. I know that grief is not linear, it can seem distant one day and bring me to my knees the next. But after enough time, each loss has become like a part of me, something absorbed into my marrow, part of my DNA.
They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. To that I say, bullshit. Because having experienced it, the mere prospect of loss, just the thought of something happening to my sister for instance, can knock me sideways. I don’t feel strong at all. It’s like standing on a train track, knowing the train is coming and that the impact will be excruciating but there is nothing you can do, nowhere you can go, to avoid it.
After Saturday’s riding lesson, I took my beautiful German Shepherd Dog, Lutz, out for a walk. I noticed a limp I hadn’t seen before. It continued to worsen, and he became uninterested in food, so I took him to the vet. The news was not good. He was obviously in pain and looking at the x-rays I could see the concern on the vet’s face.
I could almost feel the ground under my feet begin to rumble.
My constant companion for over ten years. My best friend. The one soul in my life who doesn’t judge me, who doesn’t care if I do anything right. The sweet boy who just enjoys being with me. I tell myself that I won’t get another dog after he’s gone. I know that no other pet could be Lutz. He is irreplaceable.
Loving makes us vulnerable. Loving can make us feel weak and helpless and the temptation is to shut down and avoid emotions. But it doesn’t work. For me, the best parts of my life, my sweetest memories, are all wrapped up in that vulnerability. What has given my life meaning is love, has always been love.
So, I’ll cry and stomp and yell my fury at the fates and cry again. I’ll also do everything I can to take care of Lutz as we plan what we can do for him and how I can make him comfortable. I’ll make sure I show him how much I love him. I’ll do everything I can to keep busy and functioning, even as the train is coming, and I brace for the inevitable impact.
Left foot, right foot, one in front of the other.
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