A few weeks ago, we got the devastating news that our beloved Springer Spaniel Maggie has a large, inoperable, cancerous tumor in her abdomen. She is 10 years old and the vet advises us to enjoy the time that we have with her. I cried.
We know as pet owners that their lives are shorter than ours. We know we will likely outlive them. But the reality of it can be a bit more difficult.
I sat down and made a quick bucket list of things I wanted to make sure to do with her. I put her in my passenger seat and drove her to Starbucks and bought her a puppaccino (really just a small paper cup of whipped cream). I never feed my dogs people food so this was a big deal and she knew it. She relished every lick of that cream and smiled her sweet, doggie smile in gratitude. Ok, I cried a little bit more right then. She licked my arm.
I think animals do better with the cycles of life than we do. They seem to just know and yet somehow have a calm acceptance that eludes most human beings. It caused me to think about all of the things we do to try to extend our human lives. I thought about how often we cling to anything and everything youthful. The way we value looking young. But yet, we are not going to live forever, regardless of the methods and means we employ to live as long and stay as young as we possibly can.
So what if it’s not about length of life, but rather the quality of life that is important?
Part of my revised approach to living a beautiful quality of life with Maggie right now is that I linger more. I stop and sit down on the floor with her more. I let her sniff everything she wants to sniff on our walks rather than pulling her along so we can get done more quickly. I even let her eat the little rabbit poops on the sidewalk. Who cares? I used to yank her away from them.
It’s funny that this news has actually affected more than just my dealings with my dog. I have taken a look at my own mortality. I’ve considered how I might feel if this news I received was about my husband or one of my kids, or even my mom. Life has reminded me that circumstances change in an instant. And thinking that I’ll have time to do things later might not be true.
So I’m lingering with everything more. I’m letting myself lay in bed in the morning for a few extra minutes, feeling the cool sheets and the soft pillows. I take a bit more time with my morning rituals, knowing they are one of the biggest tools for finding equilibrium and resilience. I’m calling my mom and my sister more. I’m feeling more generous about investing time in my community and with my family and friends.
Maggie has given me a gift.
She has opened my eyes to a sharper reality and a clearer vision of what is true.
We don’t have unlimited time. We might not even have tomorrow. So we have this glowing, shining, shimmering opportunity to wipe the illusory veil of invincibility away from our eyes and to live like we mean it. To act with love and intention. With awareness and understanding. With compassion and kindness.
Who knew that my darling little Magpie would bring me a deeper understanding of the philosophy of sanctuary? Writing these words, sitting in my own sanctuary, I am sending you the most fiercely loving energy possible. Put your hand on your heart. Can you feel it?
What does reading about this gift bring up for you? I’d love to hear. Comment below and let’s talk about it.
With love and gratitude,