My best friend was sitting on the sofa patiently waiting for me to finish cooking her dinner. I placed a small bowl of white rice and boiled hamburg in front of her and watched her gobble it up. She is finally eating and drinking, but she is not “out of the woods yet.”
A few days ago, my healthy, bouncy eight-year-old terrier mix fell critically ill. The veterinarian was able to operate, but Gigi’s bladder was damaged. Fortunately, the doctor is a passionate and talented veterinarian. He has been treating Gigi since she was a puppy and refused to give up. He sent Gigi home with a “strong” fifty-percent chance of survival.
When I brought Gigi home, she snubbed her nose up at the nice bed that I made for her and chose her favorite corner of the couch to bed down on. My husband and I took turns sleeping with her during the first crucial nights. We worked as a team giving her antibiotics, pain meds, washing bedding and changing absorbent pads. Things are better and her bladder seems to be working properly. Her stitches will be removed Christmas Eve morning. Her prognosis isn’t great, but then what in life is permanent? If there is one thing that I have learned is that we will always know illness and loss. It is not how long you get to live, but how you live your life that really matters.
As I write this little Gigi is lying by my feet, as she usually is when I am at my computer. I know that there will come a time when she won’t be there. But for now we have these moments. I will remember to cherish these times and just “be” with her. We are best friends and this is the season for miracles.
This is one Thanksgiving I will remember well. Approximately 180,000 people lost power in New Hampshire after a nor’easter struck the New England coastline. My husband and I were no exception. Thankfully the heavy, wet snow had stopped by Thanksgiving morning. Unfortunately, we were left in the dark.
Fortunately, my sister-in-law didn’t lose power, so we loaded our holiday fare into the car and had Thanksgiving dinner at her place. The day was saved and we were happy, full and grateful for each other. The hard part was going home to a cold, dark house.
Plenty of blankets, long underwear and a wood stove got us through the next couple of days. I kept reminding myself that this was nothing to what others are going through. I could be keeping vigil over a loved one in an intensive care unit, dodging bullets in a war torn country, or watching my child starve to death. I really am lucky for the life I have.
My husband and I took turns going to the gym for showers. One was always home keeping the wood stove going. He spent most of his time listening to a battery powered radio and I read by candlelight and wrote in my journal.
I am always amazed how simple life becomes when the power goes out. The telephone in the kitchen is silent and our cell phones are turned off to save the battery. There is no checking of email or surfing the internet. There is just conversation, books and thoughts. I went to bed early and awoke rested.
This afternoon, the power was restored. I rejoiced as the heat kicked in and the lights went on. After my husband went out for the afternoon, I turned off all the lights and placed candles around the living room and kitchen. I turned the computer on just to post on my blog and I kept my cell phone turned off.
I will remember this Thanksgiving as a time spent by the wood stove reading by candlelight and talking to my husband. I will remember the silence that the snow brought and the gathering of my thoughts.
Surfing the net, I came upon an article written by a palliative care nurse listing the top five regrets people reveal before they die. The most common regret was that folks wished that they had the courage to live the life they wanted and not the life that others expected them to live. The second one was that people wished they hadn’t worked so hard. The third was having the backbone to express their feelings, the fourth was staying in touch with friends and the last one was that people wished they had allowed themselves to be happier.
The first and second thoughts struck home to me. It made me think about how long I had been putting my dreams on hold because I was too busy working, paying bills and buying what I think I needed to make myself happy. It occurred to me how many times I had dreamt about writing and photography. I’ve actually dreamt that I was sitting at a table writing or I was back writing at a newspaper. I’ve dreamt of words scrawled across paper and notebooks full of stories.
Plenty of times I have dreamt of photographs. Usually they are black and white images of trees and landscapes. In my dreams I know that I have taken these photographs and I find them beautiful.
Strangely enough, I also dream of running. It’s not like I am running away, but running to something. I am happy and weightless. It feels like my feet hardly touch the ground.
Today, I started running. I ended up walking more than I ran, I wasn’t exactly weightless, but I wasn’t really heavy either. My feet were on the ground and I felt good when I reached my front door.
This fall I developed some health problems. Fortunately the issues were fixable, but it was a wakeup call. I cut down on work and changed my lifestyle. Consequently, I have more time to reflect on my dreams and think about where I want my life to go. I know one thing, there will always be a camera next to my notebook and pen. I am also going to keep running and find out where the “dream me” is running to.
(The above mentioned article was written by Bronnie Ware and she has some great books and words of wisdom on http://www.bronnieware.com.)