Life Changes

I have put “write a blog post” on the to do list every day for the past three weeks but haven’t been able to bring myself to face the page as I try to process the life changes that have taken place in that short time.

On June 18, not long after I posted about my circuits workshop, our beloved, 12-year-old beagle Major died in our arms. It was a shock as, after struggling with some health issues through the spring, he had gotten much better and was back to his happy-go-lucky self. We took a long walk that morning, but late in the day, he suffered seizures and a stroke. My husband and I put him in his bed where he went quickly and peacefully.

Major was born on the farm and loved living there. Because of his diabetes that required twice daily insulin shots, our schedule, indeed our lives, really revolved around him, and I found myself at loose ends after his death. I’ve been working on new routines such as riding my bike in the mornings in place of our walks. But, even now some three weeks later, I still look at my watch thinking it is time for a walk, a meal or medicine. We have had five dogs over the past 28 years, and there is definitely a hole in our lives. I am not sure I want another dog. Our first dog was the only one we actively acquired. All the rest came to us through friends or the farm. Time will tell.

Last week, we escaped to southwest Virginia together where I did my workshop, and we explored the mountains that we both adore. It was good to see old friends and share my passion for tinkering with educators. Then we got the call from my older sister: my 88-year-old father had collapsed in a store and was taken to the hospital. He was alive and alert, but they were talking about gallbladder surgery. I did the workshop, we headed home early, and the next morning, I drove to Pennsylvania where I am spending the week with them. Dad doesn’t think he should drive, and Mom, also 88, hasn’t driven for years. Fortunately, they live at a retirement community that has services, and they have lots of friends as well. We’re meeting with doctors to plan the next steps, and I suspect I will spend more time here this summer. I am grateful to my husband for his support as he holds down the fort at the farm and also glad I made the decision to retire when I did so I can take this time to be with them.

What’s the bigger lesson here? Life changes. It is easy to get comfortably settled into daily life, those routines that structure our days and weeks and years. But, change will come, often as with Major and my father, without warning. My meditation practice has taught me that the only thing I can control in the midst of change is how I react. So, we grieved and continue to grieve both the loss of Major and the possibility that he was our last dog. We are still blessed with our cat, Circe, who is a constant companion. I have put aside the daily routines I had established to hang out with my parents: running errands, playing games, sharing memories. Tears come at odd moments as I think of both the past and what the future may hold, and that’s okay. But, I try to live in the present as much as possible, reminding myself myself to be grateful for all the good in my life. And, that is my advice to you, dear readers: look for the good, live in the moment, love with all your heart.

Here is a favorite picture of the whole crew: Major, Spot, and Circe.

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