Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Remembering We CAN {Choose}

Sometimes, even when we are doing our very best to pay attention and live the gratitude we feel in our hearts, things can still get ugly. And when they do, it is up to us to remember that, through it all, we DO have choices.

If only we will remember.

This morning, when I first awakened, my darling Sophie did what she always does: she jumped on the bed, and pounced on my chest to help me greet the day. I usually love when she does this. It is one of the things that makes me happy to be alive. How can a person be crabby when the day begins with puppy kisses? She's always so happy that I'm awake. She has tail a'waggin' and tongue a'kissin' and that happy face staring at mine from an inch away. I'm tellin' you, it is impossible to start the day with anything less than pure JOY! But today was different. Not because I wasn't thrilled to have her romp happily all over me. It was because the pain in my body was so large I could barely breathe. Add to that her jumping on my chest and the result was me sobbing uncontrollably. The poor girl didn't know what the hell was going on. She moved away from my face and just stared. "What'd I do? Why are you crying? What's going on?"

When I saw the look on her face, it made me feel even worse. Poor puppy. All she was trying to do was help me start the day happily. She's done it from the very first morning she was here. HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY!!! YOU'RE AWAKE!!!

I kept trying to tell her that it wasn't her fault. I spoke the words in between sobs, stroking her as I did. I wanted her to know that I truly was happy to see her to. But the pain ... oh, that pain....so large, so intense, so deep. It took nearly half an hour for the sobbing to subside and for me to get a grip. And I still hadn't gotten out of bed!

When I finally mustered the courage to brave rising, I clenched my teeth and said a prayer. She moved away to give me room to inch my way upward, never once taking her eyes off me. I was still crying from the sheer agony of movement, but I was able to sit up, drop my feet to the floor (my bed is way high off the floor; need a step to get up into it. Great for mornings. Not so much for getting in....), and stand. Every fiber of my being screamed. The pain shot up from the tips of my toes to the top of my head. I almost passed out.

And then...

I got pissed.

She could feel the anger rise up in me, so she shot off the bed and ran for her spot under the bed. I've never hit this creature, nor will I ever. I don't do that sort of thing. But I'm pretty sure she could feel the rage and she wasn't about to test the waters. She did what any smart creature would do. She hid. This made me feel even worse. If that's possible. And I stood there, holding on to the dresser, sobbing and trying to stay conscious. NOT the way I wanted to start my day.

After a few minutes, I decided to let the rage carry me. I know that rage all too well. And I know that sometimes it can be useful. Stay pissed and keep moving. Just keep moving.

When I finally reached the bathroom, I looked in the mirror and started laughing. Hysterically. I laughed so hard that I almost peed myself. I said to the reflection, "Well aren't you one hot mess!" I threw some water on my face, grabbed my toothbrush,  and let the tears fall. I was laughing and crying all at once. Toothpaste was flyin' everywhere. I thought to myself, "If my landlord walks by my window right now, he's going to call the men in white coats to come fetch my ass and haul me away."

Another half hour passed before the tears and the sobbing finally broke. I was flat out of cry. My eyes were all puffy and red. I'd used an entire box of kleenex. Wads of wet, snotty tissue were piled in the sink. I stood there, holding on to the vanity, and said, "Well, Chiquita, whatcha gonna do now?"

I made my way into the living room and sat down on the rocker. It felt like someone had wrapped barbed wire around my knees and wrists, and was pulling hard to make it tighter. With every tiny step, the pain kept getting bigger. My head was throbbing from all the crying. I realized that I'd stopped breathing altogether. I just couldn't believe how much my body hurt. How is it possible to hurt this much and still be alive? How is any of this possible?  I saw Sophie's little paw sticking out from under the bed and all of a sudden I was laughing A crazy, out-of-my-mind laughter. A big snort came out of my nose...and I laughed even harder. Sophie's foot withdrew from sight. Who knows what she was thinking. I tried to calm myself and then I called to her to come sit with me. She, being the brave little imp that she is, crawled out from under the bed and jumped up on my lap. There, with a heart full of gratitude, I thanked her. Over and over and over again. I felt such deep appreciation for her presence. I felt the love oozing out of her furry little body spilling onto me. I saw the look of concern in her eyes. And as she gently kissed my face, her tail wagging furiously, I felt the rage fly out the window. It was slowly replaced with joy and love and more gratitude. Little by little, I felt my body relax. And, not surprisingly, I also felt the pain ease up. The mere act of stroking her and letting her cover me in kisses actually lessened the pain. I was breathing again.

As I sat there, stroking her fur, I couldn't help but wonder about the miracle of gratitude. A million voices were whispering in my ear, telling me to grab hold of that gratitude and not let go. I closed my eyes and heard one voice above the rest: "You are where you are and it really is okay. Let go of the pain. Let it fly up into the clouds. Go outside. Just go outside."

And so I did.

I walked out the back door, where the trees were dancing and the birds were flitting from the pine tree to the fountain, taking turns drinking and bathing. Just as I looked up to raise my hands to the sky, a Red Tail Hawk flew over head. It screeched, long and loud. I thought I heard it say, "I'll take that. You rest now." Another tear fell down my face as it flew straight up and screeched one more time. I stood there, in total awe. Could it be that it came just for me? Could it be that this beautiful creature flew over just so it could grab my pain and carry it into the sky? Could it be that this pain is, in some warped way, my ticket to another kind of Life?

I don't really know the answers. What I do know is that no matter how terrible or painful or dismal things may be, the Universe is listening and offering help. On every level. All day, every day.

If only we will listen.

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