Sunday, January 13, 2013

Listening ... really, truly listening.

Sunrise at Grand Marais - January, 2013
I know Ahnung is trying to tell me something. I can sense a shift in her, or maybe it's the energy that so tightly bonds us. I had trouble sleeping the other night. I woke up at 12:30 and tossed and turned till around 3:30. My heart was doing crazy things .. the cartwheels and beat skippings I had grown so accustomed to for months before my heart procedure in 2011.

Last night she woke me up at 12:30. Ahnung has always had this independent streak about her. At night, she sleeps wherever she chooses to sleep in the house. Missy and Mister share a large dog bed in my bedroom (and yes, Missy does jump on the bed in the mornings!) and Legacy continues to sleep in his large crate in his bedroom. When it's bed time he runs down the steps and waits for me in front of his kennel. There have even been times when I'm not quite ready for bed, and I realize I can't find my little boy anywhere upstairs or in the den (he also loves the couch in the den) and I finally look in the bedroom and he's standing still in front of his kennel waiting for me to come and let him go to bed :) Ahnung will often sleep on one of the many dog beds upstairs but she also loves the dog bed in the hallway that leads to the master bedroom downstairs. The pups know when it's bed time .. the lights go out and Mister, Missy and Legacy tear down the steps like it's a race to the bedroom. Ahnung doesn't move. She remains sleeping in her bed. Sometimes she'll lift her head to look at me. I get down on my knees to give her a kiss and to say goodnight. Most often, it's an uneventful night and first thing in the morning when I get out of bed I open my bedroom door to let Mister and Missy out, then entice my sleepy Legacy out of his kennel. He stretches. He has mastered the yoga downward dog pose. The first thing Legacy always does is to look for Ahnung. When he finds Ahnung he walks up to her, lowers his head in downward dog pose, and rubs his face against her. Only after he's done that does he run up the stairs after his other siblings and heads on outside to the backyard.
Ahnung after her spa treatment!

Last night was different. Ahnung scratched on the bedroom door at 12:30 am. If she needed to go potty I would be able to tell because she wiggles her butt and immediately leads me in the direction she needs me to go. When I opened the door she came into the bedroom and plopped down on the floor. Her tail was wagging but there was an intentness about her. I cupped her face in my hands and gave her a kiss then went back to bed. She didn't join Missy and Mister in the extra large LL Bean dog bed (which could easily fit all 4 of my dogs!) so I knew something was 'off.' She laid on the hardwood floor facing the bedroom door. I waited 20 minutes to see if she would join her siblings in bed but she didn't. I got up to let her out thinking she might need to go potty. She plopped down right outside the bedroom door. I walked down the hallway encouraging her to follow me thinking that she would follow me upstairs so I could let her out. She followed me to the bottom of the stairs and stopped. She sat down and just looked at me intently. I asked her, "What is sweet girl?" Her tail was wagging but not in the crazy exuberant way it does when she thinks she's getting a treat. It was wagging in a way that was a different. I could feel her trying to tell me something. I sat down next to her and held her. Are you trying to tell me the end is nearing? Are you trying to tell me this final walk we are taking together may not be the longest, most scenic walk I am wishing for? I could feel her telling me yes, but not in a sad way. I could feel her love wrapped around my heart. I could feel her preparing me.

I know she's not in pain. She's vibrant and full of life right now. Yesterday she got a special spa treatment at Lucky Dog Pet Lodge ... she's getting ready for a visit at a school she will be doing on Monday to meet with some young kids. My co-worker and her daughter attended Ahnung's Celebration of Life party in April, 2012 and her daughter was so touched by Ahnung, her story and the Celebration of Life party that she wrote a report about Ahnung. Her mom got special permission from the Principal of her daughter's school so that Ahnung could make a personal appearance. Ahnung loves kids and we are both very much looking forward to our visit.

I have come to learn that everything about Ahnung has a reason and a purpose. She is wise beyond words and her actions and her non-actions are very purposeful. I have watched how she hunts. I have watched how she patiently waits at the bottom of a tree for hours when a squirrels run up the tree knowing that the squirrel will eventually have to come down. I have watched how she teaches the many foster dogs and puppies who have come through my house with her patience and calm way. I have watched how she has picked out a kid in a classroom with the greatest 'need' .. a kid who was shut down for weeks refusing to talk to anyone; i have watched her quietly sit next to him while I presented at the front of the classroom and simply allowed her safe presence to open up the heart of a young boy. I have watched Ahnung just intuitively know what to do .. while at an outreach event a few years ago, a mother with a toddler asked if her daughter could come say hi. Her little girl wasn't able to walk yet so her mom was helping her daughter walk. Ahnung who had been standing up looked at the little girl and as the toddler approached her she plopped down so they would be on the same level. And the little girl hugged Ahnung.

My heart knows Ahnung is trying to tell me something. This morning I feel a pain so deep and so intense in my heart. I know she is trying to tell me the end is nearing. She is also telling me she is alive and happy and full of joy and for me to cherish every moment we have. How do I carry in my breaking heart both the intensity of emotions of grief and also the pure joy she fills me with? How do I walk this Final Walk and not come out at the other end shattered and in a million pieces?

Sweet precious girl, I am listening .. I am really, truly listening to you. I know you are trying to prepare me. But how do I prepare myself for something like this? How do I prepare for something so painful? How do I muster up the courage and strength to know that only by walking into and through the darkness and the pain will I be able to come through on the other end, and to see the light again? How do I come to find peace in knowing that even when you are not here with me that you are always with me? How do I find peace in something I right now want to scream at? How do I accept the truth and reality of this Final Walk with your grace?

I know what you want me to do is to simply Celebrate your Life. So today, we are going to visit our friend in hospice. And tomorrow we will visit some awesome kids at school. I celebrate you every day .... I know there are many, many others who also celebrate you.

"To hear something asks very little of us. To listen, places our entire being on notice."
~ Terry Tempest Williams

Sweet precious Ahnung ... I am on notice. I am listening.

I feel the need to head back up to Grand Marais with my sweet Ahnung. This time, I feel this trip must just be the two of us.

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