Monday, January 21, 2013

Awakening to a wild cry

I woke up at 4 am. I’ve been waking up periodically through the night for a few weeks. I suspect it’s my heart acting up again. For the past 10 days I’ve been waking sometime between midnight and 12:30 am. Last Sunday, 1/13, Ahnung woke me up at 12:30 by scratching on my bedroom door. She didn’t need to go out. It was clear, however, she was trying to communicate something to me. I wrote about it on my last blog post, “Listening … really,truly listening.” Later that morning I made reservations to head up to Grand Marais at the end of the month for the two of us to spend time alone. I could sense a shift in her energy, in our energy, in the bond that tightly connects us. And early yesterday morning (Sunday, 1/20) she did the same thing. She woke me up at 12:30 am by scratching on my bedroom door. She didn’t need to go outside. She didn’t want to sleep in the bedroom with us. I did what I did last Sunday. I walked down the hallway and she followed me. I started up the steps, and just like last Sunday, she plopped down at the bottom of the steps and just looked at me. She wouldn’t move. She didn’t appear to be in any pain or discomfort. It was more, “I’m trying to tell you something.” And like last Sunday I came down the stairs and I just held her and hugged her. For 10 minutes we remained at the bottom of the stairs. She normally rolls over on her back and wants belly rubs, but just like last Sunday she sat upright taking in and soaking in my embrace and my hold on her. Once again, I knew she was trying to tell me something. We both went back to sleep. When I woke up later Sunday morning she was sleeping on the couch downstairs … another unusual behavior for her. As I always do, I made note of it in my head and in my heart. My sweet girl does everything with intention and purpose.

I went to bed at 9:30 last night. Missy and Mister were on the dog bed next to my bed, Legacy in his kennel and Ahnung chose to sleep upstairs in my meditation room.  As always, I gave her a kiss and said goodnight before heading downstairs. I didn’t wake up at 12:30 last night. In fact, for the first time I slept through the night from 9:30 till 4 am. I awoke at 4 am and was laying bed for a couple minutes when I hear this bloodcurdling cry. It startles me and also Missy and Mister who rush to the bedroom door. I jump out of bed and as I race to the bedroom door I hear the piercing cry again. It’s a high pitched cry and one I have never heard before. It’s a sound of a wild animal. The thought, ‘is there some wild strange animal in my house!’ flashes through my mind. I open the bedroom door to find Ahnung. She is facing me, laying down, her eyes are fixated on me and her tail wagging frantically,. It wasn’t an exuberant happy tail wag; it was a tail wag that was clearly trying to communicate to me something was wrong. She wasn’t panting or having any trouble breathing. Something was clearly off but what exactly I wasn’t sure. I am constantly watching and listening for any signs of breathing problems with Ahnung. Even Missy and Mister knew something going on. Normally I am unable to be near Ahnung or Legacy, petting them, without Missy or Mister coming up to me and wanting me to pet them and not their siblings. I let Legacy out of his kennel and he too knew something was going on. Missy, Mister and Legacy all gave me and Ahnung the space we needed. I sat on the floor next to Ahnung who continued to just look at me. Her eyes piercing through my soul. Her breathing is normal and her tail begins to wag in a more ‘normal’ fashion. I hold her face and start petting her. She rolls over on her side. Ahhh, that’s my girl. She wants belly rubs. I go upstairs to let Missy, Mister and Legacy outside. Ahnung doesn’t follow us. I return downstairs and she’s in the exact spot she was, laying upright with her eyes fixated on me as I turn the corner to walk down the hallway. I sit next to her for a while and listen to her breathing. There’s a calmness that comes over her. I tell her I am with her. I am always with her and I will not leave her side.
Ahnung (and Hazel) at Red Lake Reservation in Nov., 2008

I get up to walk down the hallway to see if she will follow me. Her eyes follow me but her body doesn’t move. Is it her luxating patella? Is she in pain if she moves? Is that why she was crying? Moments later she gets up and walks towards me. In some ways I am relieved it’s not her luxating patella, in other ways I’m not. I know in my heart she is continuing to communicate with me. I get a treat and her tail wags exuberantly. Yes, it’s the happy tail wag. I smile. She follows me upstairs and after I let her siblings in from the backyard they continue to leave Ahnung alone and to allow me to sit on the floor next to her, petting her. Her eyes continue to follow me. She’s now sleeping soundly in the small dog bed. She is snoring and twitching. She is resting comfortably.

I am doing my best to listen .. to really, truly listen to Ahnung. I write and I notice patterns. Nothing with Ahnung, or even me, is a coincidence. Why have I been waking up at 12:30 am for the past 10 days? For 2 Sundays Ahnung has woken me up by scratching on my door at 12:30 am. Thinking she might need to go potty, I head upstairs to let her out. Both times she has stopped at the bottom of the stairs wanting only for me to come to her and hold her. And later in the morning (and this happened last Sunday and also yesterday) I have seen  Ahnung more playful than ever. Yesterday morning she was acting more like a puppy than I had ever seen her and initiating wild, crazy, exuberant play with Legacy.  And why is it that for the first time in 10 days I didn’t wake up at 12:30 this morning. Instead, I woke up at 4 am and minutes later I hear Ahnung’s bloodcurdling cry?

In my volunteer work in hospice I have walked the final walk with many patients. I have seen them come to life right before the very end. There’s a part of me that wants to celebrate when I see Ahnung tearing around the backyard like a puppy. There’s another part of me that wants to cry because I fear the end may be nearing. There’s a reason why she cried like a wild animal at 4 am this morning. She doesn’t appear to be in any pain or discomfort. Yet, what is she trying to tell me? I also know it’s possible she’s trying to communicate with me that there’s something going on with my own health.
Ahnung and her friend Jaycee -visiting 2nd graders

Sweet precious girl, I will keep listening with all of my heart. With every fiber of my being I will do whatever I need to do to keep you comfortable and free from suffering. I will let you go when it is time to let you go and you are suffering and your spirit is crying to be set free from your body. I know you are trying to help me prepare. I know that. I also know you are going to live and die in the majestic, wise Ahnung way. You will live life to the fullest and something in my gut tells me that one day … one day, you will just go. Something tells me you will not have a slow decline. Something tells me you are giving me the time I need to prepare. When you feel your work is done I know you will go. I so desperately want to tell you your work is not done. I want to tell you your work has just begun. A week ago today you visited your friend Jaycee’s class … a class full of wonderful 2nd graders and you made a young girl extremely happy. You touched the heart of Jaycee who came to your April Celebration of Life party; you touched her heart so much that she shared your story with her classmates; you touched her heart so much that she wanted to share you with her classmates (to read more about Ahnung’s visit to Jaycee’s class last Monday check out Ahnung’s blog:

Dear sweet Ahnung, I hear your high-pitched cry from this morning. The cry vibrates through my veins. And now I watch you sleeping soundly … snoring, twitching and at rest. Yes, we are on this Final Walk, and we are on this walk together. I suspect later this morning you will be hard at play with Legacy, acting as if nothing happened at 4 am this morning. Yet I know, we are venturing down a new path on this Final Walk … waking me up at 12:30 am two Sundays in a row and now this morning at 4 am with a bloodcurdling cry is not something to disregard. If there is one thing I know … everything, absolutely everything my sweet nung-nung does is with intention and purpose.

I live with more questions now … I strive to find peace in the uncertainty, in the blur, in the mystery of life ... and death.

For now, I continue to celebrate you and to live in the moment with you, as I pray for many, many more moments with you.

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answers.” 

 ~ Rilke.

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