Living with Miracles, Present Moment Perfection
Lessons From My Dogs
Living with Miracles, Present Moment Perfection
February 5th and snow falls silently possessing the earth. Filled with quiet wisdom the trees stand enduring their frozen world, while beyond the silence I hear them whispering, ‘Every winter turns to spring.’
And even our darkest nights give way to dawn.
Three months ago on November 2nd I took Flash, my thirteen-year old miniature dachshund to have back surgery. Only after a month of crating him and watching his suffering with each new flare up did I, with encouragement from my vet, have the courage to make this decision.
I rose before dawn, trying to cast away the odd sense of foreboding, and drove with Flash, Chance and Sasha the two hours to the Veterinary Referral Center. Anyone who has given his or her heart to an animal will have experienced some of the worry and anxiety as well as the love and compassion that I was feeling as I stood in the treatment room with Flash and talked to the surgeon.
Six anxious hours passed before I again spoke with her and heard the words that would shake my life. Flash did not have invertebrate disk disease as we assumed, but a tumor growing on his spine. There is only a 1-3% chance of this with back injuries. But it was what she said next that would shape my sorrow: Neither radiation/chemotherapy nor surgery was an option for this kind of cancer which involved the spinal cord. Palliative care was recommended and humane euthanasia when the pain became too great and the swelling resistant to the prednisone. She gave Flash two weeks to live, three weeks at the very most.
Caught off guard grief came upon me like a wave. Afterward there followed days of anguish (the stress of trying to figure out what to do, caring for him in his paralyzed state, expressing his bladder and cleaning up poop) and deep sorrow. Yet unlike depression and stress, sorrow has the ability to purify, and sometimes it just felt good to cry. I loved him. I didn’t want him to die. Most of all I didn’t want him to suffer. But grief, now indistinguishable from fear, clung to us like a cloak. Until one night.
It was about a week after we’d returned from the vet. I sat up in bed surrounded by three dogs and in that moment there was peace. Until that moment, my mind had been a whirl of sadness and the agony of indecision. Then gently, from nowhere, a peace befell me nudging out the draining stress and I felt profound serenity in the moment.
A state of grace.
I laughed as if a joke had just floated by. Then silence again as the soft orange glow from the salt candle blanketed the room in tranquility and warmth.
Flash breathed deeply beside me. Chance was curled next to him offering him her quiet strength. Sasha stretched her body around him as if protecting him from further harm. In my state of grace I slipped into a moment so beautiful I was scared to move lest it leave. I remained very still…and it persisted. And again silence…except the dogs’ light breathing…and then… Sasha began to snore.
From that night on I decided this death sentence did not have to be our reality. I could tap into the power of miracles. Jesus said, “Even the least among you can do as I do.” The ability to heal is within us. Yet too often we accept what others tell us as the only truth. We turn to others outside ourselves for help, and believe only doctors and conventional medicine can heal us.
It happened slowly. I began to change the way I understood reality and this could apply to Flash or to anything else. But because of a mere change in perception my life began to transform in amazing ways. I stepped so far out of the box I wondered how I had ever stood in it. Lovelace wrote: “Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage.” Said differently, true liberty comes from freedom of self and cannot be threatened by chains or fetters. And freedom begins with a mind at peace, for so often is it our own restless thoughts which imprison us most brutally.
I began to seek alternative means of healing including my own pain. I think in order to heal ourselves or heal others, we need open hearts. Any lingering resentments, fears or angers are not only a hindrance to the natural flow of healing energy, but are harmful to our bodies. I sought a friend who uses homeopathic electrically charged essences, not unlike the Bach Flowers, and whom I credit largely with reversing Flash’s dire diagnosis. I changed Flash to a completely natural diet—not an ounce of kibble or canned food passed his lips. I supplemented with herbs and vitamins. I played Bach’s Mass in B Minor and healing music. But most of all I began to feel a subtle sense of understanding. A subtle, yet powerful “knowing.” Sometimes doubt would creep in, but the knowing was stronger.
Flash was teaching me so much. I had daily conversations with the universe. (Call it what you will, God, Nature, the Universe, All that is, Source, Tao, Buddha, Allah, or Maudy Mae, but whatever you call it, feel the connection, because that’s your access to divine energy. The word doesn’t matter. You can’t get wet from the word water.)
I wanted for Flash to see Thanksgiving, that holiday that epitomizes gratitude. I prayed to see him on my birthday, December 17th. It was the only present I wanted. But what I really desired more than anything else was for Flash to be with me on Christmas Day—if only because I have always adored that magical, season so full of love and light. I began to cover him with light. For many years during my morning meditation, I have included the sending of Light to those who need it, but now I actively engaged the Light. It began to work. I’d fill myself and send it to those in need which now included Flash.
I practiced visualization and began to see in my mind a healthy, vibrant Flash. Since I wanted Flash to see Christmas I chose a very specific visualization. I saw him at my mother’s, where we always had Christmas, digging up the rug amidst scattered bits of wrapping paper. I bought three pendants, one for each of the dogs, that I would open on Christmas Eve and hang on Lauren, my first beagle reincarnated as a little white pine in my back yard. (Call off the men in the white coats.) I held the visualization of kneeling before Lauren with Flash in my arms, tears of joy in my eyes, as I hung the pendants on her Charlie Brown spindly branches. I even drew a sketch of this. As I did these things, the sense of knowing increased and daily I was granted small signs from the universe, disguised amongst the plain and ordinary events of each day, validating the miracles that were happening to us now on a regular basis. Only when I woke from the “ordinary” world could I look back and see that these “miracles” had been ours all along.
Flash made it to Thanksgiving sitting down to a feast filled with gratitude, beside me. He made it to my birthday and…to Christmas as I had so wanted yet had dared not hope. And on Christmas Eve as I knelt in the ice and snow and held him in my arms to hang the three pendants on Lauren, there were tears in my eyes…but they were born of wonder and gratitude not sorrow. At my mother’s house he dug amongst the discarded wrapping paper just as I had visualized and I felt not only the joy of Christmas, family and my partner, but quiet awe in the presence of the miracles that are ours everyday.
Now it is February and Flash is still with me. Where once he was stumbling and dragging his hind end, now he scampers along on our walks and eats dirt in the yard. Each day with him feeling well is a gift to us both. I have written before about the lessons animals teach us about living in the moment, but I find as Fate throws me new circumstances, I must seek first humility as I learn the lessons asked by it. In time perhaps I’ll learn true wisdom.
I know I am living in a state of grace that I long to extend into the years ahead, a quiet assurance, settling over me like comfort. But the future is not mine to decide and I have learned to love the moment I am in, for each new day is its own, a day to be cherished for itself, a day which will never return to us again.
In this moment I sit wishing to do nothing but look into Flash’s dark eyes, always accurate mirrors of my mood. As we sit in the warmth of the woodstove, the snow continues its journey from heaven to earth. I think of it as enshrouding the world with goodness and purity. And outside beyond the warmth of our small lives lies the silence space of miracles.
Many people are praying for Flash for which I am grateful each day. I have come through grief to a place of peace where dwells deep reverence for the moment we are in, and whatever happens now is okay. I am grateful for the time I’ve been granted with him. And perhaps it is only by going through sorrow that we fully appreciate the joy, however tenuous, when it returns again. Once more, Flash is teaching me to live in the present…and to believe in miracles. Each new dawn that I turn and see him gently breathing beside me is another fluttering miracle.
Kay is happy to discuss the use of Light or visualization with anyone who has animals facing cancer or other life threatening diseases. Likewise anyone (animal or human) seeking homeopathic healing with Susie who treats Flash, contact dkhoffman@BestHF.com or Kay@kaypfaltz.com.
Kay Pfaltz is a writer and animal activist. One hundred percent of profits from books are donated to animal welfare organizations. www.kaypfaltz.com.