December is upon us, and for some of us (read me), this means it's passed time to get the holiday tree up and decorated. Some may consider me a late bloomer for decorations, and truth be told I would have liked to have put the tree up during Thanksgiving weekend. My nephew (who is about 6'4") visited from out of town, and spent Turkey Day (did I mention how tall he is?) with my family, and I had wanted to spend some quality time with him. It didn't hurt that he is tall enough (6 feet and 4 inches roughly!) that it would have meant not having to bring out the step ladder in order to decorate the top half of the tree, or place the angel on top. But alas, I managed to pull a back muscle during our holiday dinner, and so that did not come to pass. All in all, it was still an exceptional weekend.
Today I awoke determined to join the masses in spreading holiday cheer, by golly! Not wishing to rush the careful creation of just the right holiday atmosphere via tinsel, handmade ornaments and greenery, I slowly began to bring out boxes of decorations and was pleasantly surprised when my husband (without my asking, mind you) turned up some holiday music on his computer and came to help me put the tree together. He enjoys the decorations when they are up, but usually becomes scarce when it is time to actually do the decorating. I generally do not mind, but this was a very nice surprise!
After we had the tree up, the branches fanned out and the lights (UGH!) finally threaded through the branches, I told him I would hang the ornaments while he cleaned up and focused on some school work he had waiting for him. I began to sift through the ornaments, some shiny and new, some faded, glitter mostly gone, slight imperfections from wear and tear over the years. I pulled out an ornament I had painted years ago. It was of our lhasa apso, Cubby. Cubby had been a Christmas present (the best gift I have ever gotten, hands down) about eleven years ago from my husband--it seemed like another time, and another place...almost another life. It occurred to me that for the first time in eleven years, I was putting up a tree and would not see Cubby lay beneath it on the tree skirt. It was our first Christmas without him-and I had forgotten that until that moment. Just then, You're In My Heart by Rod Stewart began to croon from my iPod playlist. He was one of my mother's favorite singers, and it was a song that never failed to make me think of her. Immediately my heart ached with loss. The loss of my beloved pet, the loss of my mother....my father. Before I realized it, I had sank to the floor with tears streaming down my face; filled with a deep sense of grief and feeling of loneliness.
Something bumped into me, and I opened my eyes to find Sasha sitting before me. Sasha had been my Christmas gift to my husband two years ago, and there she sat, not because she thought I was on the ground because I wanted to play. This is normally the case-if I am on the ground, she assumes it is to rough house or play. She simply scooted forward, licked my chin a few times, and rested her head on my chest, allowing me to hug her to me while I gave in to my tears for a moment. Suddenly, this profound understanding replaced the sense of grief. This angel covered in black and tan fur understood the energy behind my actions, and sensed I had a need. She reminded me that I most certainly am not alone. Yes, I have experienced loss. But so have many others, and in this I am very much not alone. I had a precious reminder in my arms, my husband in the shower...no I am most definitely not alone.
It was a beautiful moment, sitting on that floor with her being so understanding, so giving. People who say that dogs are simple creatures who have no ability to reason, think, or understand are not connected to spirit or life. And I was reminded of what this time should be about: being grateful for the blessings we have had in our lives, and the blessings we have currently. To me, that is the most important lesson. To remember to stay in the moment, for that is what life is! Life is NOW! It's not the past that we cannot change, nor the future that has not happened yet. It's this moment right now, and that is a beautiful, amazing thing.
Here is a picture of my saving grace. May you see the wisdom in her eyes, and remember to stay in the moment whenever possible.
As always, live life with enthusiasm.