Theme Thursday: Pets
This week's theme is so big it's hard to wrap my head around it. I've had pets in my life except for a gap from around age 22 to 33, a time when I thought I was too cool for cats and dogs and was floundering through the least grounded decade of my life.
The past six weeks of dealing with Bow's likely brain tumor have brought a full gamut of emotions, and I greatly appreciate the support from bloggers, Facebookers and plain "non-virtual", in the flesh friends, neighbors, family and coworkers. Bow has been in thoughts and prayers (animist to devout Catholic) from points as distant as Manhattan, Seattle, St. Petersburg (Russia not Florida), Ontario (Canada not California), Orange County and right here in the Mission.
She completed her radiation therapy last week with the wonderful team at UC Davis. The photo above taken yesterday afternoon shows that she's as perky and happy as ever. There have been no obvious complications, and I remain optimistic but take nothing for granted.
When pets become ill or have a health crisis, it's so different than a family member or loved one who can tell you how they feel, their fears, their needs. Like all pets, Bow is a great teacher and reminds me to live in the moment. It's likely she's not stressing out with "Oh, my God, I have a brain tumor!" and is far more concerned with the fact that the bichon frises down the street are barking annoyingly or that a piece of gouda dropped on the kitchen floor. As one of my cousins commented, "Don't think about the destination, think about the journey." I know that intellectually but really have to strive to do it instinctively. It's Bow's instincts, not mine, that will ultimately help me through this journey. We might have to cross the rainbow bridge in a few weeks or in ten years. Trying to guess that will cause stress that will help neither of us.
What Bow, and all my pets, remind me is that the small, routine and tangible routines get us through the day, and I have become more aware of this as she greets each one with such enthusiasm as if nothing has changed. She looks forward to each walk, even if we go the same familiar blocks at 7:02 every morning, as a glorious adventure filled with things to sniff and look at. The same Greenie she gets at 9:35 and the Dingo rawhide at 2:13 are equally glorious, unexpected treats, as if she had never had them. Each day is a blank slate to be embraced with gusto, even if every routine is the same as it has been for the past 18 months. I've always enjoyed her routines and have found her enthusiasm heartening, but with the recent challenges I have come to embrace them with a joy that reflects hers. The immediate moment has never felt more profound and precious.
In my youth I found Walt Whitman to be a bit to "precious" in the worst sense of the word. Lately I have been returning to him, and Bow has taught me to celebrate myself and Whitman. The fact that the sun rose, that the earth and heavens did not shatter and that my basenji is happy and healthy and so filled with gratitude to be offered a walk this morning makes these words of Whitman finally make sense to me: