With every broken heart, we should become more adventurous.
When Lanty was diagnosed with that darned Lymphona last summer, I felt, momentarily anyway, the solidity of life drop right out from under me. There was very little that could make it seem right again. Lanty was the third leg of our little three-legged family. For the last, oh, ten years or so, whenever would get that pesky inquiry, “when are you going to start a family?” we’d always say, at least to each other, “we ARE a family. You, me, and Lant.” Our family, defined. Now, our family was going to change. And the ground on which I stood turned to mud, mushy and slippery. Would I fall in it? Would my shoes get ruined?
One of the first things we did to cope with the terrible news, the exact same news we’d received in April 2006 but that time it was Biscuit’s x-rays that betrayed it, was slap a big, blank page on the wall and start writing the things we knew we’d need to remember. One of the first things we wrote: we are not cursed. Melodramatic? Maybe. But we felt deeply unlucky. Deeply betrayed by misfortune. First, Biscuit. Then Wyn. Then my ovaries gave up. Then this. Family peeling away until…what?
Those terribly unhelpful thoughts were piling up, threatening to consume us with a murky depression until we had no perspective and no ability to see where the future would lead us. In short order, we had little more to look forward to than the next feeding, the next administration of compounded meds into the e-tube, the next chemo appointment, the next glut of bad news. It was a dim time. We could have succumbed. We wanted to, once in a while. But not really. We pledged in our wedding promises that we weren’t getting married because it is an easy path, but precisely because it’s hard.
We slapped up another huge piece of paper and started listing what we were grateful for each day. Sunshine. Lanty’s purr. FrankenBerry. Getting to work on time. Snowflakes. A morning in bed together. Feeling pretty. New shoes. Lanty. Lanty. Lanty.
Little by little, the dimness lightened. We could begin to see the sky. A feeding with Lanty could be a pleasure, even as his appetite began to leave him. A mouthful was a miracle. A night out at the movies was pure joy. A tasty meal was a gift.
And when the time came for Lanty to go, we were so much more prepared than we expected. My heart was ripped out, yes. It still hurts in there, and I’ll miss him, oh I’ll miss him like meat misses salt. But acceptance came to us so gracefully when the wanting was so acute. Gratitude helped us embrace all that he gave us while he was here, and reminded us to draw strength from all that we did for him. We did everything we could to keep him with us, and the last thing we can do for him now is to keep on living joyfully, even in the face of losing our family as we knew it.
We’ve decided to become more adventurous. To jump.
Exhibit one: Lula Buttercup. She’s a handful of thwarted expectations and completely satisfying silliness. She’s a lot of work to groom and keep clean and she has submissive issues and she’s scared of every man she sees. She’s too barky and wants to eat every thing in sight. She’s a lot of the things I would have disdained in a client’s dog when I was a walker. But she’s got biscuit-colored ears and a face that radiates happiness. She pulls us out of ourselves when we’re just too darn mopey. She reminds me of a mix of beloved Biscuit and darling Doodle, a client’s dog I couldn’t keep and wanted to save. She’s perfect and perfectly difficult sometimes. She’s what the doctor (Dr. Lanty) ordered.
D sent me a text recently, that I’ve saved:
There’s so much in the world we could be afraid of. And yet we keep choosing to try not to be. Not to be action heroes, but to just LIVE!
Life keeps on.