August Break: Day Eleven

The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next. ~Ursula K. Le Guin

In these past weeks, I have been working with an uncomfortable sense of groundlessness, of uncertainty. Not knowing what will come next, unclear about what is really going on, confused and unsure about what to do, unable to control the chaos that is life.

As human beings, not only do we seek resolution, but we also feel that we deserve resolution. However, not only do we not deserve resolution, we suffer from resolution. We don’t deserve resolution; we deserve something better than that. We deserve our birthright, which is the middle way, an open state of mind that can relax with paradox and ambiguity. ~Pema Chödrön

I am uncomfortable and anxious when I can’t be certain and in control. All kinds of ugliness gets triggered by my desire for certainty, my attempt to find a safe place and stay there forever, grasping for a promise of calm and peace, a solid and unshakeable plan, waiting and wishing for someone or something to save me, protect me, keep me.

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart.
…live in the question. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

I wanted to be certain that Dexter was better, okay, fine, nothing to worry about. I even listed him yesterday as my bonus joy, announced that he hadn’t reverse sneezed in a week. And then, this morning on our walk, two loose dogs rushed at us, Dexter got excited and upset and reverse sneezed, giving himself a bloody nose. It’s not that I believed he’d never do it again, in fact I expected it, but I had also made the mistake of hope, hoping that it was done, that at some point the number of days that had passed since the last episode was so many it no longer made sense to count them, and he’d be perfectly and completely happy and healthy until he slipped away of natural causes at about age 14.

But this morning it happened again, and there was blood, and immediately I am right back in not knowing. What is causing it? How do we help him? How many frantic emails and vet visits are reasonable? What is the next step? What else might we try? Should we worry? If they can’t figure out what’s wrong, what then? Will he do this the rest of his life? Will it get worse? Is it cancer? Will he die? When?!

To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. ~Pema Chödrön

But I know that the only answer is to relax and be gentle. I need to practice being okay with not knowing, surrender to the chaos, become friends with groundlessness. I have to accept that the only thing I can do is love him, to be here with him now, to not squander the joy of this moment with worry about what might come next.

7 thoughts on “August Break: Day Eleven

  1. tinakomi

    Oh Honey. Yes, all you can do is love him, be with him, and enjoy his very loving presence. It’s so hard knowing you can’t change what is, but you’ll never regret just leaning into the joy. I’m beginning to think this is one of the gifts of age, this kind of surrender. Sending you and Dexter much love!

    1. jillsalahub Post author

      Thank you, Tina. Besides getting a real, actual hug from you, your kind words, good thoughts, and love are the one thing thing that can make me feel better.

  2. Kimberly Fields

    Oh, Dexter! I would have been in tears if one of my dogs started bleeding like that, Jill. I’m sending both of you hugs.

    And I’m unleashing a pox upon the person who let the dogs loose. Stupid people make me sad, too.

    1. jillsalahub Post author

      The only “lucky” thing is he’s given himself a bloody nose two or three times before, so it’s at least not a new thing, and it’s only a tiny bit of blood for a short amount of time, but it freaks me out. And the “boys” whose dogs were out were clearly in their garage doing a little “wake and bake” action, so probably not in the best shape to be taking care of their pups. The one was the most adorable golden retriever puppy and I wanted to steal it. I can’t tell you how much the support helps, the hugs and the pox unleashing 🙂

  3. Anna

    we deal with reverse sneezing every once in a while, though never as bad as you, which would totally freak me out as well. this may sound really strange if you haven’t heard it yet, but our vet told us to pinch their nose shut when it happens, to force them to breathe through their mouth. i don’t remember what she told us about why it works, but it does everytime. lots of love to you! i know how stressful it is when your pup is in trouble and you can’t fix it.

    1. jillsalahub Post author

      Anna, thank you for this. It’s all still such a mystery, and only happens for one brief moment of time on his walks. He’s perfectly fine otherwise, but I have old trauma from losing our first dog to cancer, so I spin it out into this big story where in the end he dies. And thanks for the hint about the nose thing. We found that early on and it does help, so much so that when he starts doing it, he tries to get closer to one of us because he knows we can help. We don’t even have to pinch it, just put a finger over it for a few seconds, which is actually the only way we knew there was blood the few times that’s happened. They really do wrap themselves right around our hearts and squeeze, don’t they?


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