Saturday, August 31, 2013

Hold onto me ... ~ Ahnung

Ahnung - Grand Marais (Dec., 2011)
I was going through some old writings tonight and I stumbled across a poem 'Hold onto Me' that Ahnung would give to special kids she would meet in her work as a therapy dog working with at-risk youth. This poem was to one of her special friends in 2009. Ahnung had a way of melting walls down and opening up hearts and making kids feel safe. They loved hearing her story; they connected with her rough beginnings; they loved how she survived, how her name meant star in ojibway, and how they could imagine her and hold onto her as their north star when they were going through difficult times.

Sweet girl, just as you taught so many kids to hold onto you, I am needing to hold onto to you tonight. 

Grief: My new house guest

On August 25, 2013, as the sun was setting, I held my Ahnung in my arms, surrounded by friends, as her heart stopped beating. The weight of her body fell into my arms. She was gone. Physically gone. My heart wanted to stop breathing with her.

Grief, you took her place.

I have floundered in the darkness.

You again remind me of what you said to me in your many visits:

Ahnung is in your heart. You are One. She is in your blood. She is in your bones. She is in the Earth. She is in the Air you breath. She is the Fire inside of you. She is in the oceans, the rivers and lakes, the rocks. When she is gone, she will live on in you.”

Grief holds my hand. Walk with me. Close your eyes.
Ahnung's Final Celebration - Aug. 25, 2013
When I visit you in waves know that I come with your Ahnung. Ride the waves with us. Open your heart … in the cracks and shattered pieces of your heart, let the light in, let the water in …  you must also let the sharp edges cut you. Sink into the waves. Hold onto me, hold onto Ahnung. One day I promise you, you will ride the waves with us and I will leave you. You  will learn a new dance and a new way to Be with Ahnung.”

I invite Grief into my house. I set up a guest room for her. 

"How long will you stay?" I ask.

"You will let me know. Listen. Listen to your heart, to Ahnung's heart. There is a beat, a strong heart beat in the silence and in the spaces."

We sit by the fireplace and I offer her a cup of tea.

Into the night .... We tell each other stories. We sit in silence. 

Ahnung is with you.”

I look at at my new friend, “Teach me. Teach me to listen in a new way.”

Two Hearts. 
 Two Souls.
One Love.

Photos from Ahnung's Final Celebration. Many thanks to Ryan of CapturMor for the priceless gift of these images:

Friday, August 30, 2013

Ahnung ... a week ago today the walls came crashing down

Ahnung last Friday (8/23/13)
A week ago today Ahnung woke me up with a purposeful, intentional scratch on my bedroom door. I share more about that morning on a blog post I wrote last week ( No matter how much I have tried to prepare myself for the day I would no longer have my sweet girl, I wasn't ready. I wasn't ready to see images of her x-rays showing her body ravaged by Cancer. How could it be that just days earlier, despite 7 large golf ball size tumors in her lungs and a massive tumor in her abdomen, that she was out in the backyard racing with her baby brother Legacy (and by the way, she wants the record to show that she beat her brother to the backdoor!). I posted the photo on the left on my facebook wall .... "With a breaking heart I share that the Final Walk has come to an end ... The Cancer has taken over her body." I always knew in my gut that Ahnung would live life to the fullest and when it would be her time to go, she would go quickly. She gave me the gift of over 2 years after her initial diagnosis with cancer, and 9 months after we learned her cancer had metastasized to her lungs. There is no question, she defied the odds and was in my eyes, and the eyes of so many who loved her, a miracle girl.

On Sunday, in the same way she brought a community together, she was sent off with so much love. I think my girl knew how much her mom needed to be surrounded by a community. There are many stories and signs she sent to me a long the way ... with all my heart and with all my soul, I listened to her. Dear sweet girl, I hope you feel I heard you. I hope you know that in the same way you are cradling my heart, I was cradling your heart and wrapping you with all of my love, and the love of so many of your friends. You had a magical way
of building bridges, connecting people, breaking open hearts ... On Tuesday as I prepared to head up to Grand Marais, I received a heartfelt email from my dear friend Merry Sawdey who has led the healing prayer circles for all of Ahnung's Celebration of Life parties ... her email touched me deeply and I had to share:

"I'm sending love and thinking of you and Legacy as you head up to Grand Marais. My heart aches so much for you guys as you weather this earthquake. I'm keeping you guys in my prayers and holding you in my heart with love as you make this pilgrimage for Ahnung. 
Ahnung and Merry - 1st Celebration of Life party (April, 2012)

My heart has felt so heavy since Sunday. I miss her so much. I have the photos of Ahnung and Legacy plastered all over my desk and a rock from the last Celebration of Life next to me. I was changed and will continue to be changed by knowing and loving Ahnung. 

I know nung-nung is still with us in a new way, a glowing star in the sky, a jolly, healing, guiding spirit who is with us always and there is great comfort in that. But it doesn't seem like quite enough right now. Our beloved dogs teach us to love and live our lives in a deeply physical way, appreciating all the smells, sights, and sounds all around us and just letting ourselves be on the earth in a rich and delicious way. When we have to let go of their physical bodies, it is so deeply disorienting. When I lost my dog Angus, I felt like my molecules needed to re-arrange and I needed a detailed map just to navigate life without him.  

It has been such a gift and such a deep honor to lead the prayer circles for you and Ahnung. Doing this has been as much for me as for you and the gift is that you invited me and let me do it. Leading the prayer circles has been like cool, clear water to my thirsty soul. If you want to continue to have Celebrations of Life for Ahnung and for any other reason or need, I'm on board.
Ahnung and Merry's son Ian at her 2nd Celebration of Life party!

You already know how deeply loved you are and all the people who are supporting you and surrounding you with love. You and Ahnung have created that, Marilou. It is because of who you are as well as your love and commitment to the humans and animals all around you. Ahnung broke our tough ol' hearts open and let us spill all the soft, sweet, sloppy, goopy bits all over her. She received our love with grace and returned it a thousandfold. You are receiving back what you and Ahnung have continually and abundantly given to others.

Safe journeying. 


"There is a crack, a crack in everything / That's how the light gets in. " –Leonard Cohen

And last night as I laid in bed ready to close my eyes and praying for a night of sleep (I haven't been able to sleep since last Friday) I could feel Ahnung's presence stronger than ever. I could hear her telling me she is with me, in my heart, and in the hearts of so many people. She will live on in the hearts of many, and her legacy will be the legacy of love in the hearts she cracks open and connects.

As I was leaving Grand Marais yesterday, she was working her magic once again. I had packed my car and Legacy was waiting in the car for me ... the weather was cooler and my car was in the shade so I felt comfortable leaving my boy in the car. I had wanted to visit an art gallery in Grand Marais while I was there but because I had Legacy with me did not want to leave him alone. Well, when I went to check out, the person at the desk had left as sign, "Am gone for a few minutes. Will return soon." As I waited in the lobby I looked around and saw all these small pottery art pieces shaped in a heart. Last Christmas, my dear friend Terri had given one to me (and Jenny) ... a symbol of how much her life has been changed and moved by getting involved with Leech Lake Legacy and how it had cracked her heart open. Ahnung IS the spirit and essence and the fire behind Leech Lake Legacy. And as I stood in the lobby my sweet girl placed 4 of these hearts (all in different colors) for me to see ... I then felt her calling me to walk to the art gallery so I did. The first art piece I saw as I walked through the door was a ceramic bowl which read .... "Two hearts ... Two Souls ... One Love." I picked up the bowl. And when I went to pay for the bowl in front of me, on the counter was a small wood container in the shape of a heart and a rock, also shaped in a heart. They were both calling to me. I turned them over to see if there were any price tags on them. Nothing. I asked the woman if they were for sale. She said 'yes' and she picked up the wooden heart and as she slid the top of the heart open she looked at me and said, 'it's broken. You can have it, and you can also have the rock shaped heart.' She handed the wooden heart to me, and I smiled. My last morning in Grand Marais was very hard ... my heart was broken .. Ahnung knew it and she wanted me to know she was with me. She surrounded me with hearts all morning.

And on the last morning I had with my sweet girl, as I laid on the floor crying ... I turned on my phone and the first post that appeared on facebook was a poem by Rumi ... my girl, once again, speaking to me ...

Ahnung .. forever in my heart ....

Everything you see has its roots in the unseen world.
The forms may change, yet the essence remains the same.
Every wonderful sight will vanish, every sweet word will fade,
But do not be disheartened,
The source they come from is eternal, growing,
Branching out, giving new life and new joy.
Why do you weep?
The source is within you,
And this whole world is springing up from it.

Ahnung - Final Celebration (August 25, 2013)
Thank you sweet girl for choosing me to walk with you in your journey on earth. Thank you for all the lessons you have taught us; for cracking wide open so many hearts; for your trust in me and for being my guiding star, and the guiding star for so many. Your spirit, your essence, your wisdom lives on in every cell of my living, breathing body ... Our journey together has not ended. A new chapter in your amazing life has just begun. Teach me to learn a new language, to walk a new walk, and to Be in the nung-nung way.

So, a week ago today, the walls came crashing down on me. Nung-nung's response to me ... the walls are down so you can see the stars mom. I am here.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ahnung .... I don't know how to walk without you ...

Forever in my heart ...
On my final night and morning here in Grand Marais, Grief visits me again. She has warned me she will come in waves. There will be days when I won't feel like I can breathe, like the very essence of me has been vacuumed out of my body. And so this morning, as I look out at Lake Superior as the sun rises I pray for the courage and the strength to move through this pain. I don't know how to be anymore. I don't know how I can carry this grief, this all-consuming pain ... Dear sweet girl, I need to touch you, to feel you, to hear you snore, to rub your belly, to burrow my head in your thick neck and kiss the top of your head. I told you not to take my illness. The cancer cells in my body were mine, not your's; the dying cells in my body were mine not your's; and this failing heart of mine was not your's to carry. You were spending a lot of time by the healing river rocks last Wednesday and Thursday and you were following me around the house. I know when you do that you are telling me something.  You have alerted me to lumps in my breast and to things I never knew were even there. You knew I had to go in for my heart tests last week and that next week I see my cardiologist. It is my heart that is failing sweet girl, not your's. You have been my rock through my health challenges these past few years. You have been the rock for so many people, for so many kids, for those walking their final journey, and for your little brother Legacy. I know I must carry on the work you have started. I know your story, our story must be told so that your Legacy of Love will continue in the hearts of many. Forgive me sweet girl, but this morning, as I watch the sun rise, and listen to the birds, I am floundering .... I am being swallowed by the very earth that held us both up ... I am searching for you and I can't find you. You tell me you are with me. I don't see you. I don't feel you. I don't hear you. Forgive me sweet girl for wanting more right now, for wanting your physical presence, for us to to build more memories see little kids come up to you and kiss you and hug you. To witness a a young girl who says she is afraid of dogs, come up to you within minutes and rub your back and stroke your head ... to hear your hospice friends call out 'There's my Star!', and watch their faces light up with your wagging tail, your happy indicator. 
Grand Marais - sunrise

I know sweet girl I have a lot to be grateful for. I know I need to learn to walk with you in a new way. I know there is a path you are paving for me. But forgive me sweet girl for saying this ... I can't imagine going on without you. You came into my life when there was so much darkness ... when I was being haunted my memories I had repressed, when flashbacks of sexual abuse from 40 years ago had reared its ugly head. You were truly my north star leading me out of my darkness. You were my guiding star and with you by my side I let go of a deep, dark secret I had carried for decades ... and with you by my side I healed and walked through and emerged even stronger. And so sweet girl, I will learn to walk again. I will crawl and I will take baby steps. I will give myself the space and time to feel the pain. I will do what you have taught me to do … to Be with all my emotions, to write … to write some more, to cry, to scream, to give voice to your story. 

You brought a community together. You have healed and touched hearts. An entire community grieves for you sweet girl.

Rest in peace nung-nung… and show your friends how nimble and quick you are, and tell them all about how you used to beat your baby brother Legacy in your sprints and dashes around our back yard. Legacy misses you too. He’s been looking for you. Thank you for leaving a piece of yourself with him …. He has been my comfort as I have returned to Grand Marais to scatter your ashes into Lake Superior. Sweet dreams ... This is not goodbye ... till we meet again.

Legacy .... carries pieces of Ahnung with him

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Rest in peace Ahnung ..... shine on brightly

On Sunday evening (August 25, 2013) I posted the photo on the left on Ahnung's facebook page and wrote the following: "This afternoon was an incredibly powerful afternoon as we celebrated the life of Ahnung. What an overflowing room full of love, support and light, for Ahnung and also for me. I think Ahnung knew I needed the support of a community ... a community she helped bring together in her kindness, gentleness and love. Despite her body being ravaged by cancer she held on ... yes, taking care of mom till the very end  And I promised my sweet girl, I would let her go when it was time. It was time. She did have some cake today, however  As my sweet girl took her last breath she was surrounded by love ... pure, unconditional love. And I could feel myself being carried by the love and support of our friends ... I know the days/weeks/months ahead will be hard. But I know I am not alone, and my heart is full of gratitude for the gift of Ahnung and the gift of such a wonderful community. Tonight, I ask that you look up into the night skies, and look for the brightest star out there .. it will be our Ahnung. She is our northstar ... sweet dreams nung-nung. Come visit me in my dreams anytime  Love you with all my heart."

 The response and support from an absolutely amazing community my sweet girl created touched me deeply. There are so many memories, so many words, so many images I want to share ... yet at this moment, what I must do is to listen to the spirit of Ahnung, listen to her wisdom, listen to my heart.

On Sunday at her Final Celebration, I shared 2 previous blog posts I had written on Anticipatory Grief (one from December, 2012 and one from March, 2013) and a new one I wrote on Saturday, August 24, 2013 when I knew the end was nearing:

Anticipatory Grief: Making Friends (December 27, 2012)

Grief walks up to your front door. It’s not time yet, you say. Yet she keeps on walking. She walks past the rose bushes in your front yard. She walks past the boulders you’ve carefully laid in her path. She walks past the detours you’ve planted to steer her around you and away from you. This time She is focused. And the rain is pouring and thunder is booming as the earth shakes and vibrates.

Please,” She says, “I need shelter. I need to come in -- if only for a moment. “

Reluctantly, I let Grief in. I offer her a cup of warm tea. We sit by the fireplace.

Why have you come?” I ask. “It’s not yet time.”

It’s time. I am by myself tonight. Tomorrow I may not be alone. I may bring thousands of Me and there will be nothing you can do. We will break down your door. We will drown you. “

She pauses for a moment.

She strokes my dog Ahnung.

Sit with Me now.”

We share stories. We cry. We laugh. Ahnung lays between us. A calm breeze permeates the room.

It’s time for me go,” Grief says.

But we have so much more to share,” I say.

She smiles. She rises, and Ahnung walks alongside her. Ahnung stops at the front door as Grief turns around to face me.

I will be return. I may come alone, or I may bring a friend. Now, go be with Ahnung.”

We melt into the breeze coming through the open door.

Anticipatory Grief Visits Again (Mar. 3, 2013)

You came to visit me again last night.

Most days I see the clear blue skies, I catch my breath when I look up into the night skies, and I walk with my feet planted solidly on our earth.

Is it too much to ask for the World? For the Universe? For eternity …. For strings of days to never end with my sweet Ahnung? Is it too much to ask for Cancer to step to the back of the line? Is it too much to ask for the Love, the Wisdom, the Resilience, the brightness of Ahnung to shine on forever?

Dear Grief, I respect you. I honor you. I know you have a place in this world and in this universe. I know it’s not my place to negotiate with you. Yet when the earth shakes below my feet and when the ground moves and the tremors knock me off center, I desperately grab onto Ahnung. Last night, it was just an earth tremor. How many more tremors will I walk through with Ahnung? How many more tremors can the ground beneath us withstand until the inevitable quake on the horizon arrives? How many more tremors will I be blessed to endure before the ground beneath us splits open and swallows Ahnung? And will I be swallowed too? Will I be swallowed by the pain of You, dear Grief, as I desperately hold onto my soul, my Ahnung, as she slips away from me?

How? How do I accept, with grace, this Final Walk?

Grief looks me in the eye.

When the earth shakes, and the ground beneath you falters, look up into the skies. Look into Ahnung’s eyes. Look up at the North Star. I gift you with the tremors.”

Ahnung is in your heart. You are One. She is in your blood. She is in your bones. She is in the Earth. She is in the Air you breath. She is the Fire inside of you. She is in the oceans, the rivers and lakes, the rocks. When she is gone, she will live on in you.”

I hold onto Ahnung as the earth beneath us stops shaking. I bury my face in her thick neck. I hold her. I hold her as tightly as I can. I hold her again.

Anticipatory Grief … Here to Stay (August 24, 2013)

Grief knocks on my door again. Ahnung greets Her at the door. This time she arrives with bags in hand.

“It is time.”

She opens the door, takes my hand and leads me outside.

We get down on our knees. She places one hand over Ahnung’s heart and one hand over my heart.

And she repeats to me what she said months earlier:

Ahnung is in your heart. You are One. She is in your blood. She is in your bones. She is in the Earth. She is in the Air you breath. She is the Fire inside of you. She is in the oceans, the rivers and lakes, the rocks. When she is gone, she will live on in you.”

I look into Ahnung’s eyes.

Grief takes my hand, “It is time. We must begin the walk.”

In the dark, we are guided by the north star and the beat of our hearts.


So yesterday I returned to Grand Marais with Legacy. To the place where Ahnung and her bonded little brother Legacy spent time. She has called me to return here to scatter her ashes. She has called me here to heal my shattered heart .... so much of me wants to run from the pain because the pain is unbearable. But I hear my sweet girl .. I feel my sweet girl's spirit cradling my heart ... i feel her spirit telling me to fall into the hurt, the Grief, the anger .. i feel her guiding me with her soul telling me I have to carry on the work she began. I feel her asking me to lean on the community of support and friends.

At sunset last night I walked along the beach. The same beach she walked with her baby brother Legacy on our trips here to celebrate and honor the time we had left. I paused as I got to a spot on the beach with two large rocks .... Here. Gateway to my north star ... gateway to Ahnung, to all she is and as a friend and Leech Lake elder shared with me yesterday, "Marilou, know you have love from us here...north shore is a beautiful place...proceed through your ceremony of sending Ahnung back to Creator ... I'll put some asemaa, food, water and a treat out for her and will ask my son to be watching for her as she arrives...peace & love". So shortly after sunset, I released her ashes back to the Creator as I stood between the rocks. And I then tossed as far out into Lake Superior a rock from her auntie Jenny and a rock from me. And in nung-nung fashion, she made sure I knew she was listening. I stood on a dry spot on the beach between the rocks, and after I released her back a large wave came crashing against the rocks and I stood between the rocks with my shoes and socks soaked. And along with the force of water came 3 rocks. I smiled. Sweet girl, you are here. I gathered the 3 rocks, closed by eyes, and gave thanks to God, the Creator, the Divine for sending me the most beautiful, wise spirit and trusting me to be her guardian for her short time on earth.

And when I returned, I came back to my studio, to an email from my dear friend Jenny who had created the most beautiful tribute to Ahnung ...

My sweet girl gives me a high five on Saturday (8/24/13) when my friend Dorothy comes to take photos :)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Ahnung ... our Final Walk

Ahnung - therapy dog
Last November when I learned Ahnung's cancer had metastasized to her lungs, and after low-dose chemo didn't work to shrink or even slow down or stabilize her tumors in her lungs we made the decision to walk this Final Walk together and to let my sweet girl live out the remainder of her days in nung-nung style ... glorious, wise, calm, playful, purposeful, magical, and the list goes on and on. I made a video in January, 2013 to honor the beginning of this Final Walk. I'll be honest, there was a part of me that never imagined she would still be with me today. These past 8 months blessed me not only with her presence but with such wisdom as I continued to witness how she touched and healed not only my heart, but the hearts of so many kids, her friends in hospice and served as an amazing role model for the foster pups that came through our home and for her little brother Legacy. Just 3 days ago she was tearing around the backyard with Legacy. And just two weeks ago, she was 'at work' up at Leech Lake Reservation.

In my gut, I always knew my precious girl would live life with purpose and intention and gusto, and then, she would one day just tell me, 'It's time.' With how well she has been doing for the past 8 months, I admit there's a part of me that became hopeful, that wanted to believe the cancer had gone, that she was going to make it to her 8th birthday on October 1st, and to have her warm spirit for yet another cold Minnesota winter. But the other part of me has known this time was coming. 

This morning, I watched the Final Walk video I made in January of this year. I am sharing it again ... as we prepare to once again celebrate Ahnung's Life on Sunday, and to say goodbye to an old, wise spirit. I will forever be grateful to Karen Good of Red Lake Rosie's Rescue for leading Ahnung to me in October, 2008. She is my spirit dog. She is my north star, and she has guided me through my darkest moments. 

For those of you coming to her Celebration on Sunday, I ask you to consider bringing a rock, or something symbolic to how she has touched your heart. She is preparing to move onto the next phase of her journey ... I ask you to join me in supporting her and surrounding her with love, light and healing ... and she in turn asks you to hold her in your heart. And for those of us who have lost a loved one, she will take a message to them, and she will join them in the heavens above, and will continue to shine brightly on all of us. As I hold her tightly, my heart breaking and tears falling, I can feel her tell me, 'it's okay ... my work is done, it's time for me to move on.' I know she will always be with me, and I know she is right ... nung-nung is always right :) Her work will continue through me and through so many other people whose hearts she has touched deeply. I know I am alive today because of my precious girl. I know she has taken a lot of my health issues. Dear sweet girl, I am grateful for all you have given to me and for walking with me through our shared health challenges. And as you take these final steps, I, along with an entire community, are with you every step of the way. Don't worry about me precious girl ... I will be okay. You have infused your spirit in your little baby brother Legacy. When you are gone, and I hold your crazy brother Legacy, I will know I am holding you :) I will take your lead, and when it is time, I will be there holding you.

Hold On

To what is good
Even if it is a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe
Even if it is a tree which stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do
Even if it is a long way from here.
Hold on to life
Even when it is easier letting go.
Hold on to my hand
Even when I have gone away from you.

~ Pueblo blessing

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ahnung - A Legacy of Love ... honoring and celebrating an amazing spirit ...

Add caption
This morning, my sweet girl woke me up with a very intentional scratch on the bedroom door. She let out a small yelp as she walked up the steps. I noticed her belly looked very distended. I hoped, like earlier this year, that she had just gotten into some food and just had a very BIG, bloated belly. I thought maybe her back was bothering her so I gave her an early dose of rimadyl then gave her some raw meat with her tramadol and gabapentin. As I continued to watch her it was clear she was not her usual self. After going potty she immediately came inside and went to lay by the healing river rocks. When Legacy tried to get her to play she declined ... then 20 minutes later she vomited. Something was not right with my girl. I immediately called Lake Harriet Vet and was told to bring her in right away. I left her there for a couple hours so they could get x-rays. X-rays were done of her abdomen area and her chest. X-rays confirmed that her lungs are filled with tumors. The doctor compared her x-rays with her previous x-rays. The tumors were now golf-ball sized and there were 7 large golf ball size tumors in her lungs (not to even mention the many other small tumors). Her abdomen also showed it was filled with fluid and there was a large mass in the area where her kidney should be. It was most likely another cancer tumor. Her belly is bloated and filled with fluid. My vet at Lake Harriet called over to Blue Pearl and sent over all the x-rays and had a conversation with the oncologist, Dr. Schmidt. We headed over the Blue Pearl in Eden Prairie. When we walked in one of the vet techs greeted us and said she was surprised at how great Ahnung looked :) Her tail was wagging and she still had that nung-nung sparkle in her eye :) They had seen the x-rays that were sent over and based on what they saw they envisioned bringing Ahnung in on a stretcher ... but no, not my nung-nung :)
A 5K-9 walk with my girl in 2010

The oncologist spent a long time with us .... it is clear we are in the final stretch of this amazing walk we have had. I look into Ahnung's eyes and I know she is not ready to go today. The sparkle is still in her eyes, her tail still wags, she still perks up for treats .... There is significant fluid in her abdomen but the oncologist said it doesn't appear to be causing her any discomfort. She still doesn't have any trouble with her breathing despite the massive size tumors in her lungs. The oncologist says it could be days, it could be weeks, maybe even longer. We don't know if the fluid has been slowly building up or her body just said enough. She told us the next few days would tell us more. She recommended increasing her tramadol ... as we have both learned in our volunteer work in hospice, it is now about pain management and comfort. Her temperature is normal, her heart sounds good .. quite frankly, the oncologist said Ahnung is doing amazingly well considering what the x-rays show.  The oncologist said it's also possible Ahnung may just pass her in her sleep. To be honest, it wouldn't surprise me if she did that ... I have always imagined my sweet girl living life fully all the way until the very end.

I know the time is approaching. It will soon be her time to move on to her next job ... when it is time for her to move on, she will let me know.
Hanging out at a coffee shop this morning

Dear Ahnung, I promise to listen to your heart and to your spirit and your soul. I promise to do all I can do to keep you comfortable and free from pain, and when you tell me it is time to set your spirit free, I promise to hold you, kiss you and wrap your essence and your being around me, and to let you go. I have been blessed to have you in my life .... and as we approach what appears to be the end of this Final Walk, I will imagine that when we get to that cliff, a community of people who love you dearly will set your spirit free and you will soar into the heavens. I am grateful today is not that day ... and I will cherish every moment left that I have with you.

We had originally planned to have a 3rd Celebration of Life party for Ahnung on September 29th ... well, we are moving up her big party to this Sunday, August 23, 2013. My dear friend Merry will once again lead a healing prayer circle. Ahnung has returned every morning to lay by the healing river rocks ... my hope is that with renewed energy and prayers from a community of friends who love and support her that I will blessed to have her for weeks, even months to come ... Please join us for her party on Sunday, August 23rd at 3 pm at the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley (we will be in the large auditorium by the adoption center).

Monday, August 5, 2013

Lessons from a wise spirit ...

Ahnung - Duluth (Aug. 4, 2013)
Yesterday I took a road trip to Duluth with my precious Ahnung and spent the evening walking along Lake Superior and hanging out at Canal Park ... people watching, bird watching, soaking in the silence of the water amidst the conversations ... "What kind of dog is she?", "She's a beautiful dog" ... "Can I pet your dog?" Ahnung sat calmly next to me ... intent, watchful, observant, listening.

My life has been crazy busy lately ... but through it all I have had my soul mate, my inspiration, my heart with me. It's been over 8 months since Ahnung's cancer has metastasized to her lungs. Last week we went in for her 2 month check up at Lake Harriet Vet. And like her last 2 month check at the end of May, we got the best news ever ... her blood work came back completely normal and her lungs and heart all sound perfect! Despite all the tumors in  her lungs (at least that's what her last chest x-ray in March showed) my sweet girl shows no signs of trouble breathing and her lungs sound great! She has been full of spirit and life. Every day I catch her tearing around the backyard with her brother Legacy. I joke that she apparently missed the memo that says she has Cancer, Spondylosis and 2 luxating patella. She is without a doubt, my miracle girl.

On most days I'm able to focus on today and on the moment. At the end of last year, I accepted the fact that my time was limited with Ahnung. I accepted the fact that we would walk and enjoy our Final Walk together ... and I would listen to my wise girl and I would let her tell me when it was time. I admit, I never dreamed she would still be with me 8 months later ... there's a part of me that feels torn between desperately trying to stay in the moment and the other part of me being ripped to pieces at the thought of losing her. And then I watch her and I remind myself how much she teaches me on a daily basis .... she takes time every morning to lay by the healing river rocks; she plays hard with her brother; she takes time outs and breaks whenever she needs to; she is patient ... she is resilient ... she lives in the moment.
Aerial Lift Bridge - Duluth

So yesterday, as we spent the evening walking and just being together, I realized she will always be with me. We sat and watched the Aerial Lift Bridge rise to let the boats through ... we watched the birds dance above us and then land and perch on light posts ... and together we took in deep breaths and the air she would let out, I prayed it was Cancer leaving her body ... i pray every day that she will let me take the illness and disease that's inside of her, yet I know the exact opposite is happening -- she is taking illness and disease from inside of me and absorbing it into her precious body. And I know that is what Love is ..... and the bond I share with Ahnung is one I will never be able to put it into words. And because I am human and I am not as wise as my sweet girl, I struggle at times to truly stay in the moment. And what pierces my heart is the reality that these precious, magical moments with her will some day be precious, magical memories. There will come a day when she won't be looking out on Lake Superior with me, she won't be wagging her tail for treats, she won't be calmly laying by my side .... and all I can do right now is pray that that day is still a LONG ways away. Dear sweet Ahnung, help me to stay in the moment; help me to focus on today and on what we have right here, right now; help me to cherish and create the many more memories I will have from the countless moments we are blessed to share ...

In two days, I will be celebrating my birthday. The greatest gift I could ever receive is having Ahnung with me on my birthday. At the end of the last year, I didn't think I would have her with me ... we are 2 days away from my 49th birthday, and with how great she is doing, odds are pretty darn good she will be with me. I think she wants me to get a cake for my birthday so she can have a small piece of it like she did at her last Celebration of Life party :)

Ahnung is my star ... she is my north star, my constant, my rock, my soul ...

What a gift it is to watch her sprinkle her magic with so many people and animals who come into her circle. With every passing day, it seems her circle grows and grows and she touches the hearts of so many more people. I don't think it's possible for our bond to get any deeper than what it already is ... and yet, every day, it does just that :)

Sprinkle your magic, sweet girl ... and continue to touch the hearts and souls of living beings who need a little of your magical dust :)