Once upon a time there was a dog named Izzy. Once upon a time she was diagnosed with an enlarged heart, which would eventually kill her. Once upon a time I had to live with the shadow of death, every day, all day, and decide how to REALLY live, befriending the shadow but choosing the light. This is a snapshot from that story.
“All of life is saying goodbye.” I’m musing on that quote, and Izzy’s nebulous prognosis, as we climb into the car.
We’re headed to the park for our ritual morning walk, and the sky is big and cloudless, mocking my shadowed thoughts. Its true blue light fills the heart my enough helium to make it burst from happiness. Izzy’s nose and paws are out the car window, sniffing up the sunshine and sage.
It’s that simple for her. Look at this. Smell that. Sit on mom’s lap and enjoy the ride. The feel of her snuggled between me and the car door, the softness and warmth of her. The crisp cheery breeze blowing hair and fur, sunbeams kissing our noses. There is gravity in past and future. Buoyancy in the present moment. And right now? We’re both floating.
And I realize, this is it.
This right here. We get to have these feelings, share these moments, the glory and commonness of it all.
My mind is full of snapshots of other moments like this. I collect them. Store them on the hard drive of both computer and heart. And when I get sad or overwhelmed or lost, I pull them out. Well, first, I stumble and bumble around in despair. But when I’m ready to shift, I pull out these snapshots and I feel so utterly…blessed.
When we sit too close to a computer monitor, we lose sight of the pictures upon it. Likewise, when we’re sandwiched inside our life, its daily challenges, fears, hopes, loves and disappointments we lose perspective.
And today the big blue horizon whispers to me, nudging, “Lean back.”
As I do, life’s snapshots fill my view. A thousand thousand snapshots. Laughter. Hugs. Sighs. Friends. Fur. Silas’s chest under my head each night. Hawk’s nests in our Atlanta back yard. Sea lion whiskers tickling my nose in Mexico. The smell of Tink’s head, Izzy’s paws, Zeus’s everything. Firelight and stories on a winter night in Taos. Pink lemonade on my wedding day. Florida sand between the toes. Spanish moss. Rubbery silk kisses from a dolphin in the Bahamas. The feel of Winnie the Pooh’s arms hugging me at Disney World. Libraries, book stores, coffee, poetry. Grama’s biscuits and gravy. Oreos dunked in milk. Black and white movies with Mernie on Saturday afternoons. Holding hands. Fairy tales. Lullabies. Soup. Whiskers. Home.
So very many snapshots. So very much glory blazing a trail of gooey goofy love and gratitude down my cheeks.
And this death thing? This aging thing?
Suddenly it seems a hell of a deal. A bargain! Age spots and grey hairs and achy bones and the crushing sudden sadness of parting?
Merely a shadow cast by so much light.
And I think to myself, if this is the price I pay to be here, to take this journey, to share this breeze with the windows down, I’ll pay it.
We pull into the parking lot and Izzy barks at the first dog she sees in the park, which sets off a coughing spell, the result of an enlarged heart. Spluttering to catch her breath, still she wags her tail.
And, snapshots spilling from my expanding heart, I wag mine.
We all live with the shadow of goodbye: Illness, aging, death, separation, loss. What makes the ride worth it all? What light, right smack dab in the middle of ordinary life, outshines the darkness?
Name your snapshots.