We put our sweet Duke down on Friday.
He went so quickly. It seemed as though our vet Mike put the anesthetic in his arm and the next second, he was gone. I knew right then that he had been ready, just like he told us. It was a wonderful, bittersweet week with him. We adventured. We went to the beach and the river and ate lots of treats and whip cream and fries. We snuggled on the bed even if it meant washing everything the next morning because he couldn't control his bladder. We sat in the grass and did nothing. No need for words, just being together. We were also, all of us, so tired. Between the constant need to get up and go potty or not be able to, to giving him so many pills (one at 3am), and the tears, so many tears, Friday came and we were all exhausted. It was time to say goodbye. Tim and I both said we saw it in Duke's eyes this week. He was telling us he was ready to go. His time in his dog body on earth was complete. The past few weeks he'd been coming out into the living room with me in the morning while I meditated and was outside the door always wanting in when I practiced or taught yoga. I chalked it up to being one of his quirks. I see now, he was looking for the practices to sustain him as he got sick. He was looking for healing. There is so much I could say about this last week and all the lessons I've learned/am still learning from my sweet lab. What I'm seeing most clearly in this moment is that grief and loss are lonely emotions.
Grief and loss are also universal.
Everyone, at some point or another, experiences loss. Loss is a part of human life, and ALL OF US have experienced some form of loss this last year and a half. We lost the life we knew, the world as we knew it, we lost people close to us. We lost routines, houses, car keys, time with people we cared about. Loss does not escape any of us. We all know what it's like to feel sucker punched, caught off guard, panicked, even. This thought has been a comfort to me in my loneliest moments this last week. I know there are people who have experienced loss who get it, who understand on some level, my pain. I also now have greater compassion for the people I know who've experienced loss. Losing anything (even our car keys) is definitely not anyone's preference. I think we'd all prefer to hang onto things a bit longer if we can.
Life's rhythm and continuation despite whatever happens in our worlds just shows us that nothing is permanent.
Each time I practiced yoga this week, I was reminded of this. I was reminded that I really, truly, only had the breath in front of me, and the pose in that moment in front of me. I was reminded that life might not preferable right now, but it is life and how do I stay present for all of it? Sitting on the grass with Duke and feeling the urge to look at my phone or read or fill the space, I was reminded that this moment, in and of itself, was perfect, and wouldn't be here long. Presence, though so cliche and overused, is really the key, the golden nugget. Life is happening right in front of us, in each and every moment, if only we open up our eyes and our senses to it.
We'll never know how long any of us have, and that is the mystery and also the gift offered to us. How do we live fully AWAKE?
This is the practice of yoga, at its heart. Awakening. Awakening to ourselves and to our divine nature, and to the world around us. It will likely take us our lifetime, because if you're anything like me, even when you practice yoga and meditation and being aware, presence still comes in fleeting moments, and the moment you realize you're fully present, you often lose said presence. It's often elusive and not always easy to practice. That is exactly why we call it a practice. My practice of yoga saved me in a lot of ways this week. It opened my eyes to places in my life I'd been sleepwalking, showed me people I'd forgotten about who cared deeply, and reminded me to LOVE the people in my life, in each and every moment. It brought me back to myself when I thought I couldn't stand. It gave me strength to make difficult decisions. It gave me courage to sit and be with ALL the emotions I felt this week. I sure as hell would rather not have jumped on my yoga mat or meditated or practiced nourishing my body. It was not the easy choice. It was the powerful choice. I miss Duke tons, and I know he's still with me. Every time I get on my mat or sit on my block to meditate, I know he's there with me, soaking up the healing energy. And he's telling all of us, not to forget the healing we can give ourselves through this practice. Join me this week, and let's all heal, together.