Do you ever feel that you are losing who you are, who you thought you were? That all that you had thought would be was slipping away rapidly, like sand through your fingers, cool water over your wrists on a hot day?
Sometimes I feel that the years move too swiftly, that so much is lost in my desperate attempt to hold onto every single thing, to plan ahead, to think things out.
I can see these traits in my girls, Kaia needs to know the exact order that things will happen and when she will be expected to contribute, what she will be expected to do or say. Avery needs to think about things before she can act, needs to take in every possible scenario.
Kaia is like me in that way, she just wants to know what will happen next, not an unreasonable request, we don’t think. Avery is like Casey, wanting time to think or to plan, wanting to think about how interactions with others may go, what she will say and wear, when she will smile.
This makes our little group a little reticent when it comes to social interaction, makes us, I fear, hard to know. There is so much that can happen and does happen, so much that is expected, the thought of it is exhausting to the four of us, because they are not contingencies we can plan for. I have so many people that I consider to be my friends that I do not talk to on anything like a regular basis, and I know the Erins and the Cindis understand, I’m not sure about the people who are new to this seemingly strange circle; consider this your notice.
Today it snowed, and the dog went out, as his meds make him do quite often, and he minced his way through the cold wet stuff in his yard, tried to find something that smelled familiar, looked at me in a confused fashion; his face said, where am I? I know I should know you, but I just can’t think why.
He went to the vet the other day, he was itchy and keeping everyone up at night with his incessant scratching and thumping. The vet was sure it was fleas, took out his little comb and combed and combed the dog, no fleas. The vet neatly picked up the dog and flipped him onto his side before he could even protest, he scraped his red belly, the sores around his dog parts, his elbows. The vet ran tests and came back to talk to me, in a room smaller that my bathroom, (which is basically impossible), where my dog had panted and paced and listened to other dogs come in and out.
He told me that the lesions and lumps on the dog are cancer. He told me that the cancer originates in his testicles, and that basically we can keep him comfortable, that that is all.
I cried, while the dog put his face in the lap of the vet, who sat on the floor and fed him treats. And the vet said that it isn’t a death sentence, he’s an old dog, it could be weeks or months, years even. And it would have been that way anyway, right? 14 years of life lived with the ultra sensory perception of a dog, the confusion of colors and scents and sounds.
14 years as a lifetime, an evolution from hopeless puppy to competent protector.
Here I am, Lord, send me.
Send me into the growing up years of girls I sometimes don’t recognize as my own.
Send me into the fray of dog hospice, where we keep things comfortable.
Send me, into a church that possibly isn’t my own, while I struggle against, rail against, the basic tenet that all churches are my own because we all are one.
Send me, into a world rent with anger and bombs, racism and bigotry and priests who don’t understand what a deacon is and never wanted one anyway.
Here I am.
Sometimes it feels like my voice is the voice crying out in the wilderness, like nothing makes sense but how I reason things out inside my brain. And it feels like, sometimes, I cannot find the space or the time to process what happens to me, and in me. It feels like I live in a state of constant reactivity, there is no such thing as thirty minutes of meditation, even choir practice is broken up, rightfully interrupted for a soprano line that seems incapable of following notes down the scale.
All I really want, when we get down to brass tacks (as Casey would say), is my one inch. I want my one inch of a place that is my own, one inch of thought that is only mine, one inch of time that is spent how I will choose to spend it. One. Inch.
I think that is what most of us want, those of us posting vociferous status updates that adamantly refuse the refugees from Syria, those of us who are totally against any sort of pro choice movement; we just want our small corner, our inch, our one place where people can’t tell us to believe something else.
And I get that.
But our inch cannot buy our safety.
It isn’t a trade-able commodity.
It cannot buy self assurance, it cannot buy grace, it cannot buy forgiveness and it cannot buy peace.
Those are things that are not for sale, not to you and not to me,
So what will you sow in your one inch?
Its a small space, you must choose wisely.
I will sow basil, for best wishes. Bluebells, for humility. Daffodils, for unrequited loved. Lily of the Valley for sweetness, for tears.
Maybe I can find some room for a book or fifty. For some paper and something to write with.
And maybe a small tomato or something, for praticality. There isn’t a plant I know of that gives grace or beauty, peace.
But there is your small inch. And mine.
Think, would you, about what it is that you sow. Think about what you will reap, think about how you make people feel, are you sending a message of welcome, or one of condemnation?
There is so much kindness needed in the world today, that we could all add that to our gardens and still not have enough.
I love you, as you let me process dogs with tumors, and bluebells and lily of the valley, as you let me think about my inch, and what I would put there, what I would leave behind.
My sister said that Dakota is nearing the clearing at the end of the path. I can see him, panting through the woods on a hot day, dodging trees and leaping brush piles as the sun creates bright shafts through the trees, illuminates the pine needles on the ground until they glow, see him entering the clearing and becoming young again, as the cats he has known sidle around his now youthful legs, as Boba bays at him and Whiskey sniffs him suspiciously.
We are all on the path that ends in a clearing, all on a road that ends with the same thing, all living and dying at varying degrees. Who will meet you in the clearing? Who will be glad of your coming?
These are things I think about on a snowy Saturday night, deep in the trenches of dog hospice and growing girls.
These are things I wish from my one inch.
“Ka is a wheel; its one purpose is to turn. The spin of ka always brings us back to the same place, to face and reface our mistakes and defeats until we can learn from them. When we learn from the past, the wheel continues to move forward, towards growth and evolution. When we don’t, the wheel spins backward, and we are given another chance. If once more we squander the opportunity, the wheel continues its rotation towards devolution, or destruction.”
And I told you to be patient, and I told you to be fine. And I told you be balanced, and I told you be kind. And in the morning I’ll be with you, but it will be a different kind, I’ll be holding all the tickets, and you’ll be owing all the fines… who will love you? Who will fight?