I tried, but it’s raining

I decided this weekend I was going to write something funny. (I am, you know. I mean, I can be). But it’s raining, and it’s been raining for two days straight. Who can be funny when it’s raining?

I contemplated putting this off and being funny tomorrow. Forecast for tomorrow: rain, all day.

So funny. Okay, well, I made an honest attempt to ride my bike while holding an umbrella. That might have made someone laugh. I didn’t, though. Because it’s effing cold, and my rain jacket and favorite boots are in the bottom of god knows what box.

So I arrived at the coffee shop later than I wanted to, wet, cold…and not funny.

I’m sure there is some eye-rolling going on. It rains here like 2 days a year. Most people are almost giddy, relishing in the anomaly and blatant reminder that fall is upon us. And all I can do is think of the last time I was cold and wet.

It was January. I was in Texas, completely alone and utterly heartbroken. And it almost took me under.

I had fallen for the wrong person, risked everything and lost so much more. So there I was, packing up all of my things, yet again, trying to figure out where to go. Did it even matter? There was no home to go back to and no one waiting for me to come home…except Biscuit.

But it’s not January anymore, Brooke. It’s September, 9 months later. And it’s fall. You love fall. It’s your favorite. People associate it with death and decay, but for me, it’s pumpkins. It’s crisp mornings, chunky sweaters and my favorite boots. It’s Halloween decorations and the crunch of leaves under my favorite boots. It’s snuggled up next to a warm fire with the person I love. And it’s Biscuit, sitting on top of a big pile of leaves, his red-orange fur blending in with the autumn colors all around him.

But my chunky sweaters and favorite boots are still in boxes that I admittedly haven’t had the stomach to unpack one more fucking time. And I got rid of most of my decorations because, to be honest, when your packing up all of your shit for the 7th time, they seem like the perfect thing to not have carry up another flight of stairs or cram into a 400-hundred-something square foot space. And the warm fire, well it’s in the house I used to live in with my amazing husband, who is no longer my husband. And Biscuit, well, he’s dead.

So I guess this year, fall is about death, because most of the things I loved last fall don’t exist anymore.

This isn’t funny, is it? Like not at all. But shit, it’s still fucking raining outside.

Okay, let’s shelf death and heartache for a beat, shall we? I wanted to make you laugh, not cry. Which I will say is one obvious perk to this weather. It’s hard to differentiate tears from rain drops.

Tears and rain drops. It really is kinda funny in a crazy, can’t really get my head around it way. It’s all water, which literally dictates whether life exists or not. But it can also take it away in a matter of seconds. It can wipe out entire villages, kill tens of thousands of people, and take you under with a force that makes breath seem like it was never an option.

But it can also bring you to a state of complete bliss within seconds. A cold sip of water on a hot day, or a hot bath on a cold night. Watching it dance across the rocks of a river bed or letting the sound of the waves kissing the sand lull you to sleep.

The ultimate paradox. You need it to live, but it’s responsible for so much death. It can bring you sheer joy or cause excruciating pain. It often can’t be seen but is always present. And it never dissipates. It changes, adapts to its circumstances, but it never diminishes. It is everywhere, all around us, but so many die because they are deprived of it. As it turns out, it is disturbingly similar to the very thing that always seems to end with tears, at least of late.

Which brings me right back to fall. A love, a dream and a precious puppy all synced up with the season, their decomposition swift, and all I could do was stand by, completely powerless, and watch…. and cry and scream and completely fall apart as they slipped further and further away until all that was left was a mound of dirt covering up a hole that I so desperately wanted to crawl into.

So here I am. Staring at this puppy next to me who is snuggled up under his person’s feet, looking down at my feet, wishing I had my favorite pair of boots on because mine are wet and my toes are cold. And I’m right back to the last time I was cold and wet. And I think of Texas and my puppy sitting in the leaves, and…

It’s funny in a it’s not really at all way, how predictable it all is. The whole cyclical thing: water, seasons, life, love..

Love, that’s what it always comes back to, where it all started. The impetus that seems to always propel me into motion, the very thing I live and breathe for, a joy like I’ve never experienced, followed by a pain so unbearable I almost wish my heart would stop, the feeling at least.

The ultimate paradox, like water, I need it to live, but it has resulted in so much loss. Some days, I feel completely depleted, yet none of it disappeared. Not a drop. It has changed, it had to; circumstances have changed a bit. It can’t be seen anymore. But it hasn’t diminished. It’s just as it was before, filling me up completely and leaving me gasping for air.

Okay, so missed my target with this one. But I’ll try again next week.

Forecast: Sunny, all week.

—-

An Addendum of sorts: Please take a minute to read Brandewijn Words latest post, Perspective. I’m beyond honored to be a part of it and think his perspective is beautiful and kind and so very needed. It just gets so easy to slip into judgment mode, to drift towards entitlement and self-righteousness contingent on our vantage point.

He ends with this, and it absolutely humbles me, but is also was a beautiful reminder. We truly are all in this together.

I make this promise to Brooke and to all of you. I will dig…deep…into her honest “telling of events” to find her and try to understand her world of this or thats. Because that is her world and her perspective… And those are the only ones that matters and the only ones I need to know.

That’s sums it up, right? Not his promise to me, but his commitment to question his vantage point, to do his best to know someone’s story and check himself when he makes an assumption or judgment…ultimately, to come from a place of empathy. Because we each have our story, right, with so many layers it gets complicated and messy, and we fuck up and do things that we regret. We hurt people, we hurt ourselves. intentionally or unintentionally. But the beautiful thing is, we get the gift of and have the capacity to step back and check ourselves, to shift our position and do what we can to understand why someone says or behaves the way they do. To practice empathy.

Desert Curmudgeon sums this up so eloquently in Yippie! We’re all Gonna Die:

Those of us who care do so because we can’t but feel otherwise if we are being honest with ourselves. There is no escape from the vulnerability of interdependence. I breathe because you do. 

alone-anime-drawing-girl-Favim.com-2444548

 

Advertisements

The Last Fight

“You did too much. You tried too hard. The only thing you didn’t do is walk away. So walk away. It’s going to hurt like hell. Do it anyway. Do it with grace. Do it with love. Do it knowing you did everything you could.”        – b.breazeale

My dog is dying. I didn’t want to admit it. But I knew it. It is why I postponed my move to Paris. It is why I just signed a lease on the same street where he lives. I knew our time was limited, but I thought we had more time, more walks to the coffee shop- ‘the B’ sitting outside with me, tucked under my legs. He was supposed to be my wingman for this new chapter. He was supposed to be my rock while I try to heal and start over.

I am absolutely furious with myself for spending his last six months away from him. I left him when he needed me most. The irony is almost comical. I left Biscuit and moved to Arlington, Texas for a guy who left me a week later, then left Arlington, Texas to come back to Biscuit, who is now leaving me a week later.

When Eric told me he wasn’t doing well. He calmly said, “I think you should consider moving back early”. That is all I needed to hear. Eric never wants me to worry or hurt. I know that. I knew that every day I called to check on Biscuit, he wasn’t being 100% straight with me. But I still called every day. The guilt I felt because I wasn’t there, when I knew I was losing him, was excruciating. Deluding myself that he was going to be fine was just easier.

So I packed up my apartment the next day and drove out of Arlington, Texas, back home. He is what motivated me to do one of the hardest things I have ever done- give up on a dream, on love. It was the first time that I had to move away from something I love instead of toward something I love.

Two days and 781 miles later, I walked in the door of my home that is no longer mine. Everything had changed, except for Biscuit’s reaction when I walked in the door. He slowly got up and came straight to me. Tail wagging, huge smile, nose forcing its way into my hand for some long awaited pets. Eric said he hadn’t done that in weeks. Within 2 days we were back to our routine- him patiently waiting for me to get myself out the door, our walk to the coffee shop, that now took twice as long , him stopping at his favorite rock, then his favorite bush (pine, totally obsessed with pine), the realtor’s office where he bolts in, pummels the poor man trying to get his work done, relentlessly begging until he gets a treat.

We get to the coffee shop, take our normal spot next to the tree, and our day continued as it had so many times before. And for two days, that is exactly what we did. I knew I had made the right decision. Maybe he was just waiting for me to come back?

And then we began our walk back home. I could see the pain in his eyes with each step, even though he had his normal elated smile on his face that he always had when we were on our walks. By the end, I was literally holding him up, almost carrying my puppy that weighs more than I do. We barely made it inside the gate. And that was it. I slept outside with him until we finally had to take him in on a stretcher. He hasn’t moved since.

Maybe he was just waiting for me to come back.

And yet, I still hope. He has done this before and he came back. If we do the unthinkable and he could have come back…

So, when do you call it? When do you throw in the towel and do the unthinkable? When do you walk away and give up the fight?

It feels absolutely impossible.

The fact of the matter is, I’m so very tired of letting shit go. I don’t want to anymore. I have let so much go in the past year. They say things come in 3’s. This is the 5th terrible, heartbreaking thing that has happened this year. This has to stop at some point, right? A person can only take so much. I don’t care about the whole ‘you only are given what you can handle’ bullshit. Isn’t there a breaking point? Isn’t this why people snap and truly do throw in the towel? I don’t want to break. I have shit to do. And I’m tired of crying. And I’m tired of fighting the urge to ask, ‘why me’? I’m just tired.

So do I call it?  Do I give up on him?

Clearly, he can’t tell us that he is in pain, or if it is to the point that he just wants it to stop. What if he isn’t ready? What if he gets better? What if he wants to keep fighting and we gave up on him too soon.

That is not what I do. I don’t give up. To a fault. I fucking fight- for love, for life, for dreams, for people…I fucking fight.

I know we all have to do this. It’s the whole courage thing. We have to face our fears- our fear of being alone, of failing, of admitting defeat, of being the one who gave up, of never seeing the person we love the most again.

I have always tried to use pain as a guide. If I am causing someone pain, or if I am experiencing pain beyond what is acceptable, if there is little chance of transforming it back into something beautiful, then I know it is time to let go.

That is the intention. That is not what I am able to do when dealing with the latter. I hold on too long- to love, to life, to a dream or a person. I stay too long. I fight too long. Even when that person has long since stopped fighting for me. Even when all hope is gone. I know this is selfish. That person is trying to let go of something that isn’t serving them anymore- my dad holding on, for me; my husband holding on, for me, my puppy, for me. And I encourage them. I make them keep fighting, when I know what they really want is for me to just let go.

He is telling me he doesn’t want to fight anymore. It is clear. And he is holding on, partially for me. And I am letting him.

I think, for the first time in my life, I just don’t want to fight anymore.

 

On a lighter note: a bright, bright light

Lucky for all of you, I woke up today, lighter. Can’t exactly say why (although I have a good idea spending six hours talking to one my nearest, dearest, Susie Chandler, had something to do with it). But it feels like a fog has been lifted, a bit of hope restored. I think acceptance has finally taken hold and I’m truly ready to move on. I know there will most likely be some bouts of regression, but I’ll take it for now. (Although, the coffee shop decided to play Stevie Nick’s greatest hits. Not helpful, but I’ve made it through 3 songs with no meltdowns. I think we are in the clear).

So, I decided to write about Biscuit today…truly the love of my life. He has been by my side for the past 8ish years. Even when I would go on my extended wanderings abroad, we would be right back in our groove day two. I usually had to get through one day of the cold shoulder, but then we were good. He’s a bit of a pouter like his mom.

Again, clearly biased, but he truly is special. Since the first time we took him out and about, he has always attracted attention from all sorts. We would take him everywhere we went and almost without fail, we would look outside to see a whole family posing next to him for a photo, or see someone sitting next to him, loving him up for longer than what would usually be the norm. One time we looked out the window to see a man living on the streets curled right up next to him sleeping.

Probably my favorite story was when I was writing at a coffee shop in Denver. Biscuit was outside attracting his usual crowd on the patio. I walked out to find a man sitting next to him, clearly drunk, clearly without a home, talking to him and stroking his head. I asked him if he was hungry and he promptly requested a bagel with eggs and sausage. I came back out with his requested entrée to find Biscuit completely drenched…and it reeked. “Um, sir…did you maybe pour something on my dog”? “Oh, yeah”, he beams, enthusiastically pulling out an empty bottle of Wild Turkey. This dear man had poured an entire bottle of Wild Turkey on the Biscuit. “It’s really good for his skin and his coat”,  he assured me. I couldn’t decide whether to yell at him or laugh. I mean, think about it, for this man that bottle of Wild Turkey was a precious thing. And he sacrificed it to moisturize my dog’s skin. I feigned annoyance, handed him his breakfast, thanked him for his kind gesture, and took my very wet, very content puppy to get a bath.

Only the Biscuit.

He is a bright, bright light that has the patience of a saint. The part I hate is that time is his enemy, as well. As I slowly get my strength back, he is slowly losing his. But to see his resilience, his spirit, his smile that is ever present, even when his body is failing him. There is no question his presence has changed the world, at least it has mine.

Good morning dear Brooke. I hope you slept ok and got back safe and sound. It was so good to see you and hear your struggles in person, vs phone/internet. You are such a bright, bright light. Truly, you are. So smart, such passion, and simply strong. I am honored to have you as a friend. I hope you realize that your presence can change this world. Time is your enemy of sorts. You need it to happen now, but that is not the plan. We need you to have the fucking patience of a saint. Whatever that means. But keep fighting, maybe eat a little more and know that you make a difference. I love you.   –  Susiebiscuit-027

Upside Down

Definition of Faith (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

1) allegiance to duty or a person: loyalty:  fidelity to one’s promises: sincerity of intentions

2) firm belief in something for which there is no proof:  complete trust

My puppy, Biscuit, has Vestibular disease. Okay, he is not a puppy. I don’t know how old he is exactly. I quit counting, but we’ll say 11ish. He is an amazing dog, as we all believe our dogs to be. But this guy is the dog that you can’t get 3 steps into your walk before you are stopped so that people can love on him. This is the guy who the neighbors ask if you will please go out of town so they can watch him. He touches people in a way that I have seen few pups do. But I am clearly biased.

About a month before I moved to Arlington, Biscuit started swaggering a bit on our walk. His head had a severe tilt to the right and he quickly got to the point where he could no longer stand. I immediately took him to the vet, ran all the tests, plunged into researching all possible causes. All results pointed to two different scenarios: Vestibular disease or a brain tumor. Vestibular disease- curable, brain tumor- he would be in immense pain and gone in a matter of weeks.

We were told the best thing to do would be to put him down.  I refused.  If everyone was telling me they were not sure. If what they were telling me is that there might be the smallest possibility that he could get better, that he might not have a brain tumor at all, then why the hell would we put him down?

Long and the short of it, he has vestibular disease. It took countless hours of research, multiple doctors, ongoing tests, blood work, medication after medication, a strict diet of home cooked veggies and chicken breasts, but we still have our Biscuit…because I had faith in him.

I have been away from him for a bit and was heartbroken to see that his condition has worsened since I last saw him. It struck me as I was walking him this morning of how dramatically both of our worlds have been turned upside down over the past 8 months. Literally. As I caught him from falling over the second time, I knelt down beside him and gently tried to straighten his head, to give his neck a little relief from the strain of trying to hold his head up so he can keep on going. And I cried. I just cried. I cried because I want to take this pain away, because of how unfair it is that this precious, strong, sturdy dog is now reduced to having to be held up by someone smaller than he is. I cried because he might never be able to hold his head up again, to see the world as it is, as it was when he was healthy and carefree and could run and leap and land on all feet with no fear of falling.

I cried because I feel the exact same way. My world has been turned upside down and I truly fear that this pain will never subside, that I will never be able to hold my head up, stand up straight, and walk, much less leap, without any fear of falling.

So this is where faith should come in, right? When something that you believed in- like that you will get up in the morning, be able to put one foot in front of the other and walk a straight line, or that the world you created around a belief in love, around a person you believed loved you- when this world is turned upside down and no longer exists, this is when you are supposed to have faith. This is when you are supposed to believe in something greater, in that greater power or fate or destiny or whatever it takes to conjure up the strength to keep going, when every step you take is taken blindly because everything that was your reality is now completely foreign and you are walking in a world that was yours, but no longer is. You are supposed to have faith.

I don’t have any right now. None at all.

So this is my plan for today. I will gently remind myself of all the things I do have.  I have my dog. I have my health. I have this cup of coffee in front of me and my hands that allow me to keep writing. I have a lot more, I know. I just can’t see it all right now. It’s amazing how unclear things become when you are looking from the bottom up.

Your faithful gypsy,

BB