#reverb13: Day Three

Two of today’s prompts are really about the same thing for me, have the same answer. They are “Brave: What was the bravest thing you did in 2013?” and “What storm did you weather in 2013?” The storm I weathered and the bravest thing I did are the same: Dexter’s cancer and eventual death. I stayed with him when he was sick, was as present for every moment we had left together as I could manage, cared for him the best I could and eventually let him go, was there with him when he died. Even going on a walk sometimes I had to be brave — he might have a fit of reverse sneezing, give himself a nosebleed, one that I couldn’t stop, even a stroke was possible with his particular kind of cancer. At any moment, something could happen that would lead to the end of things, to a level of suffering that was too much.

I’ve said this before, but it is worth repeating: Loving any dog takes courage. In all likelihood, you will outlive them. It might even be your responsibility to make an end of life decision for them. No matter how it happens or when, you won’t be ready, it won’t be okay — and knowing that, you open your heart, invite them into your life anyway, give each beast the power to break your heart wide open. To love a dog, to love anything mortal, knowing you will eventually be separated, that you will ultimately lose them, is the purest form of courage I know. The magic, the medicine is that every time my heart breaks, it expands, gets stronger, and my capacity to love grows with it. Because of my grief, my loss, I have the heart of a warrior, open to both the tenderness and the terror of life.

The third prompt was a beautiful practice shared by Kat, “a life-changing practice I discovered with the help of Rachael Maddox during her gorgeous Do It Meaningfully challenge,” which looks like this,

Each day for 31 days, I sat quietly for a few moments with my eyes closed and my hand on my heart and asked, “Heart: what do you need?” And then I listened. Sometimes the answer cam in the form of a word. Sometimes an image. Sometimes a sensation. Try this today. What does your heart have to tell you?

So I asked my heart, “what do you need?” The response was a rush, a surge of energy. Then I thought of what it feels like to run, dance, stretch and flow through a series of yoga poses, how alive those things make me feel, how present, and then I flashed on what love, happiness, joy feels like, like when I come home from work and Eric and Sam are waiting for me and as I get close enough to the door Eric tells Sam “go see Mom” and he runs out to me, his whole body wiggling, and how good it feels to be all together again. My heart wants that feeling, being fully alive and awake, energized.

13 thoughts on “#reverb13: Day Three

  1. Tui Snider @mentalmosaic

    Thank you for writing this, “to love anything mortal, knowing you will eventually be separated, that you will ultimately lose them, is the purest form of courage I know.” I’d never thought of courage that way before! ~Tui

    1. jillsalahub Post author

      Oh, and have you ever read these lines from poet Mary Oliver? They are my favorite description how how “this” works.

      To live in this world

      you must be able
      to do three things:
      to love what is mortal;
      to hold it

      against your bones knowing
      your own life depends on it;
      and, when the time comes to let it go,
      to let it go.

  2. Jen Allen

    It is so hard to lose them 😦 I was young when we lost our last dog, but I lost my sweet Moose cat during a year of powerful losses – a 7 year relationship, my grandmother, my grandfather. I swore I wasn’t going to get another animal. Ever. The Peach cat – the remaining kitty at home – was going to be it for the end of my days. And then I couldn’t help it and brought home the Blackberry. And several years later, Cobbler. I couldn’t help it. Small, powerful beings worked their ways into my heart.

    it is total bravery to love them. But I don’t know how else to do it.

  3. juliejs

    So beautiful… I am also grateful (selfishly) to find the prompts from Besottment. So grateful. I have been in love with several dogs I’ve lost and now I have two awesome dogs… and yes, it is always a risk. A risk worth taking…. thank you for the reminder.

    1. jillsalahub Post author

      I’ve lost two now, and am the happiest with at least two with me, and I can’t imagine stopping, living without, even knowing what I’m setting myself up for. ♥

  4. geezergirl1

    Hi… new to following you. Love what I’ve read so far. I had to let my beloved old boy transition this Oct. It was painful, and reading your words gave rise to my heart ache. And, then I gather my feelings and allow in the beauty and love of those years with his gentle loving beingness. And my heart is full and joyful. He was the kindest being I’ve ever known and I believe he taught me great lessons in love, forgiveness, compassion, and kindness. I am grateful.

    1. jillsalahub Post author

      Welcome! So sorry about your pup. Dexter was the second we’d lost to cancer in four years, and even though two are gone, I still feel like I have three dogs. I always say I didn’t rescue them, they rescued me, each one my guru for something new I need to learn, all of them teaching me to love fully and then let go, and when I say what I practice, it’s writing, yoga, meditation, and dog. ♥


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