Monday, January 08, 2007

“An opportunity disguised as loss, someone with whom you have had a strong emotional bond, through which you have been living a part of your life. Retrieve it now. Seek among the ashes and discover a new perspective and strength.”

This is the card I pulled for the New Year. My friend died the next day. She and I have had a strong emotional bond from day one. But I never saw that I was living part of my life through her. Until now.

She greeted everyone with open-hearted enthusiasm. She loved to meet new friends, people young and old, dogs and cats. She had a sweet, happy energy about her and almost everyone she met, responded with the same eager happiness.

She had a calm, quiet strength that radiated out of her. Yet, she was never aggressive. She would never attack anyone. If, by some chance, she encountered someone who pulled back from her in fear, she made it her quest to win them over. Sometimes it took a while, but she was patient. If someone showed anger and aggression to her, she just kept her head forward, and walked on by with quiet dignity and strength. If the need arose to protect herself or those she loved, she did it with the kind of calm authority that comes with true power.

She was totally in the moment. Every minute. Everyday. She showed me so many ordinary things that I would normally have missed. To her, the ordinary was extraordinary. Watching her, I saw the world. I heard the scrambling of a squirrel and the whisper of bird wings. With her, I stood quietly and smelled the woods, watched the geese fly and welcomed the changes of each season.

She was determined and persistent. She never gave up on what she loved, even when forces worked against her. When her leg was injured and she couldn’t take the daily walks she loved so much, she didn’t let that stop her. Oh, she rested and let it heal, and then she got up and started walking again. At first, it was just a few steps, then, out into the yard, across the street and within months of the injury, she was walking to the park and back again. She got herself up and down the stairs everyday in spite of the pain. She did it with the same determined persistence, one step at a time.

She trusted herself, her intuition, instincts and natural intelligence. She moved out into the world with that firmly rooted trust and inner knowing. She taught me that born inside everyone is the key knowledge. No school can teach you what you already know; you must find the knowledge yourself from inside yourself and trust yourself enough to use it.

She always gave me and everyone she loved a warm hello. For a long time before she died, she couldn’t speak. Again that didn’t stop her from communicating with me or anyone she loved. She was there for me, for all of us and she always knew when it was time for a treat. She loved treats.

Yes, I was living part of my life through her. I saw her wonderful qualities, admired them and never saw them in myself. But she saw them in me. Now, through her, I can start to live them for myself. She’d encourage me just like she always did, with a gentle nudge of her nose.

Her name was Heather.

Seventeen years ago, she arrived into my family. She was a baby, all cute and fuzzy and sweet. I have to say that other than my own human babies, nothing is cuter than a golden retriever or poodle pup. They are just adorable. She was the cutest.

At the time, I had two small children ages 2 and 5. It was no small task to juggle the needs of all three little ones. They all needed time, attention, love and guidance. They needed to listen, learn and share. I needed to teach them all many things, sometimes all at once. It was hectic and stressful and there were times when I didn’t know if I was going to make it through.

One particular time, Heather and I had been training and she’d gotten cranky. I had to give her a time out. After I’d had my ‘time out’, too, I went to her and sat down on the floor. She climbed into my lap and as I began to cry, she licked away my tears. I reached out, hugged her and told her I didn’t know if I was up to the challenge. I was trying but I was tired and frustrated and I told her that maybe she’d be better off with someone else. Her answer was to snuggle closer to me, put her nose on my shoulder and sigh. In spite of the very bad day, I knew that we would make it through together.

Lately, I could see she was tired, in great pain and frustrated then it was my turn to be there for her. And so, I snuggled close to her, put my nose on her shoulder and patted her softly and listened to her sigh a last goodbye knowing we made it through together to the end.

She was my golden retriever friend for 17 years. She would be proud to see me retrieve the enthusiasm, calm strength, true presence, determination, persistence, trust, intuition, true knowledge and love from her life.