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2011 - November

Beautiful Blondie!
UUCMP Newsletter
November 2011

Dear Friends,

Blondie, our dog, got up this morning just like the thousands of mornings before this one.   Having heard us stir, she squinted her eyes from her place on the couch.  She let out a semi-silent yawn, letting us know she was tired and reticent to stir.  She gently sniffed the air.  Her ears raised up and her brow furrowed just a little.  These things she does without moving her head.

Her big brown eyes tracked me with her gaze and eventually opened all the way into an expression of curiosity – but without any firm commitment.  When I stepped within the event-horizon around the couch, her tail started to wag.   When my outstretched hand inched closer still, she reflexively raised her head and folded back her ears so that petting her would require less effort. 

This month our theme is longing.  And Blondie is the best example of portraying longing I have known.  At least how it describes what happens in my heart as I come upon her. 

When Blondie finally got off the couch – it was with her usual front paws first approach.  She walked forward with her back legs still on the couch and positioned herself for a majestic stretch.  Her back became very long and her head raised high in the air, the corners of her jowls lifted slightly, involuntarily revealing how good it feels to untie the knots where her muscles had attached over the long night to her weary old bones.

When she finally had all four legs on the floor, she looked around before moving.  Unlike her youth, movement is nothing to waste.  Now, when she does set a course, she waddles for a few steps until the engine and the caboose remember how to move in sync.   

Only a few feet went by before she stopped.  She set her rear end on the floor, twisted her head to the side, pushed her nose in the air, and tried a contorted scratch.  Her back legs, once so agile, can remember the movement but cannot reach the span they once did.  Her frantic movements bring less satisfaction than they once did.  That is why if Liz or I are around, we will lay her down so that she can shamelessly show us her underside and let us scratch her tummy and sides while she reveals a look of bliss. 

When our hands move to her tummy and her sides we can tell.  The tumors are quite large now.  They are what restrict her movement, bring her fatigue, make her itch.  Still – today – she is glad to be alive.  There is no mistaking the spark in her eye, her occasional prancing step, her genuine glee at hearing the can opener which proceeds meals or when she sees us carrying her dark blue leash for a walk. 

It is easy to long for olden days, before the word, ‘cancer’ was known to us in such an intimate way.  But we know too much gratitude to do that.  After the veterinary oncologist said nearly 8 months ago, ‘it could be weeks,’ we are grateful for every day. 

We know we will awake some morning very soon and see her on the couch open her eyes and follow us with her gaze.  But she will not stretch.  She will not show us her belly.  She will not get excited to eat or walk.  We know there will come a morning where she will long to stay still. 

She will not tell us that she would rather die than try to do what she can’t anymore.   But we will know.  I hope we will know.   And I hope that when it happens she will know that there will be part of us that would rather die, too.  That, indeed, will die with her.  A part of us will always long to open the can, see the wag, be on the other side of the leash and die because we can’t. 

Longing is the bittersweet barometer that always tells us what is most important.  It is a parcel of purpose and meaning wrapped in attachment.  But when you tear off the attachment and look inside there is never anything but love.   And directions.

To the Glory of Life.