Monday, January 2, 2012
A New Year's Gift
As I stood on the patio getting ready to take Toby for his first walk of the new year, the branches of the large fir in the back yard began waving a wild invitation. The deodar cedar next to the fir picked up the motion and passed it along to the pine at the corner of the yard. By the time we were walking toward the road, the branches of every tree within sight danced a tarantella, and the air was so full of invisible movement I felt pulled, pushed and lifted all at the same time.
The gusts ebbed and flowed like an airborne tide. Each new flurry washed over me in cleansing waves.
Christmas was one of the best ever. Seated in my living room surrounded by abundance in the form of heart-felt gifts, the company of family, and so much love, I experienced a complete sense of enough. Not the enough of sufficient but wishing for more. Or the enough that is so much more than enough the fear of losing it makes you miss the moment. This enough was warm, clear and easy.
It was also tinged with sadness. A sadness that curled around my heart like tule fog, yet did not diminish the joy of the day. My awareness of that, my acceptance of and surrender to that, is the biggest gift last year brought to my life. Sadness and joy, two sides of the same quilt.
While we opened gifts and laughed and cried together, my brothers and SIL and husband and I, Cooper lay at my feet clearly in her last days. At almost twenty this magnificent cat had been stalking birds just three weeks prior. Her decline, while not unexpected, occurred with a speed that was both merciful and terrible. With our help, she died on Tuesday.
Moments after I felt Cooper's heart stop under my hand, the vet, as she used her stethoscope to make sure, said the most amazing thing when I asked why she was checking. "The heart operates separately from the brain. It can even work outside the body."
While she was speaking physiologically, I heard the obvious metaphor. The heart will have its way no matter what. We love, even knowing there is no way to love deeply without pain. There is no love without loss. And the more the heart feels one, the more it will feel the other.
Walking in the wild wind with my spirited dog, I blessed the memories of those I enter this new year without: my daughter, a nephew, my mom, one beautiful cat. I celebrated my heart and its steadfast refusal to choose anything less than love. I breathed in new air, breathed out old pain, and moved forward with eyes and heart wide open.