I took my dog for a walk around a lake this morning. It was a beautiful morning, and it felt good to be alive and breathing the clean mountain air. We walked over to the edge where a woman waved from her small catamaran. I waved back and noticed a golden retriever lying down on a bed, protected by a small plastic encasement. I was about to call something to her like,”That’s the life!” when instinct stopped me. The dog was quite still and as I was wondering about it, a man walked up beside me. With tears in his eyes, he told me that the dog was dying and his wife was taking him for his last ride around the lake. I looked out at the woman and as she wiped her eyes with a towel, she called to her husband, “Twenty more minutes and we’ll come in.” Her husband shared that this would be his dog’s last day.
I stood there, tears filling my eyes, and watched the woman paddle around the lake. It was a heartbreaking sight. I understood what courage and strength it took for her to give her beloved dog this last gift of a boat ride while he lay dying.
I’ve found that when we face our sorrows, endure trials of the heart and suffer terrible losses, we somehow find the fortitude to forbear. We rise to the challenges of care – for others in need and also for ourselves. We choose to reach deep within our being and give from the kindest, most loving places within us.
I’ve lost pets, faced their sudden or slow demise. I’ve lost family members through distance, death, and, most difficult of all, estrangement. I’ve had to reach down to the bottom of my soul to find the strength to care for myself and my life when I just wanted to give up and give in to the grief. But I didn’t. I found a way to face the reality of loss, to embrace the tenuous nature of all life. To truly embrace life, with all its sorrows, hurts, let-downs, betrayals and deaths, we must understand on a deep level that everything passes; everything is temporary.
There is no happiness without sorrow. I have found comfort in learning to be in the now. I remind myself that today will never come again. I have had a wonderful life with many beautiful, happy times but also sad and scary ones. To the people who have been there for me, who have cared for me, I owe my deepest gratitude. Thank-you to those who kindly took the helm when I couldn’t, and guided me around my personal lake of tears.