Why is it that every time I write about life’s suffering, I’m thinking about my dog? I adopted Tasha-dog eleven years ago this week. I was missing something in my life, though I wasn’t sure what, exactly. I had a lovely husband, a fulfilling career, four (yes four!) cats, and lots of friends.
But I was still lonely. I had been pining for a German shepherd for approximately thirty years, since my family rehomed the German shepherd of my childhood. My visions of Tasha were laughable, in hindsight. Perfectly behaved, she’s not. Healthy, she’s not. Cat loving…well, let’s not even go there. She was everything I thought I didn’t want, but ended up being exactly what I needed, and more.
She is the biggest source of joy in my life.
And the source of my most debilitating anxiety.
The other night, I was thinking about how many times Marc and I have almost lost her, due to the many diseases she’s had to live with or overcome. Her imminent death has been predicted countless times, by vets I usually ended up firing.
But now that she’s eleven years old in a breed whose average lifespan is ten to twelve, even I have to admit, she’s approaching the sunset time of her life. In the past three weeks, she’s been plagued by a neurological issue of unknown origin. It may resolve; it may not. It may stay the same as it is now, or it may decline until we have no choice but to end her suffering. We continue to do tests, but as of this writing, all is one big unknown.
Oddly enough, the most challenging part of this for me is that her neurological status cycles, and my mental health seems to cycle with it. One day she seems better, the next worse. One day I’m optimistic and happy, the next, devastated.
The Yoga Sutras clearly predict my suffering. You see, I’m attached to this girl. I hesitate to say she’s like my child, because that’s not how I think of her. But she is as important to me as any living being has ever been. And I will inevitably have to say goodbye. I knew that the day I adopted her. As crazy as it seems, I signed up for this.
My work now, as Tasha and I walk down this sunset path together, is to not be attached to the good days, because the good days won’t last forever. If I can somehow learn to be present without gripping the good, perhaps I’ll have more peace during the inevitable challenges.
Then again, maybe I won’t.
Maybe grief is simply part of life’s process. Another obstacle to overcome that helps us appreciate the blessings of life while we have them.
Regardless, the Sutras say that meditation helps overcome suffering, so it’s time for me to reignite my practice. If you care to join me, this is one of my favorites.
If you’re willing, please send Tasha happiness, her doctors wisdom, and me peace.
Yee haw, yippee, and yahooey!
Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series. A KILLER RETREAT and MURDER STRIKES A POSE are available at book sellers everywhere