I had no sooner finished the last bite of homemade blueberry muffin when the words tumbled out of my mouth: Bryson, we have a good life.
Yep, that was also me talking to my old lady Shepherd – again.
We talk a lot she and I: About work, politics, potential research questions. About friends and loved ones, lost, and changing, and will-it-ever-happen new love. About dreams and fears…Fears. Like Saturday night as I was curled in bed yakking happily to Bryce about our almost 11 years together until I was sobbing. No. Bawling. Big, ugly, snot-filled cry-bawling as if a character in a daytime soap: “Bryce, I’m only 35. Living another 35 years without you is IMPOSSIBLE. Could you not die for 35 more years? At least? Why can’t dogs live as long as their people? It’s unfair…. I know, I know, you’re here to teach me about love and compassion, giving and companionship, and grief and acceptance. But, could you? Another 35 years isn’t too much to ask….”
I’m serious, this was my Saturday night y’all. And I wasn’t depressed or despondent. Not traipsing down into a cavern of my own dark thoughts. I was happy. We’d had an AMAZING day. I’d had an AMAZING day. I was full of light and love and all the other Eat-Pray-Love goodness imaginable. And in that joy I remembered that I won’t have this same joy forever. Won’t have B forever.
Cut to snot and tears and wailing in my bed. Bryson slightly befuddled. Watching me with empathetic eyes, and immediately snoring her head off when I pulled myself together.
I’ve said before, she’s a sweet Shepherd. That also means she guards the hell outta me when I’m ferklempt. But at 11pm on a Saturday night, really she just wants to sleep…. I get it. Me too.
Yup, I’m also an old lady shepherd trapped in a 35 year old human body.
But, Bryce. Tears. Snot-bawling. Joy. AMAZING day.
I have a good life. Yes, that’s where I started this.
We have a very good life, my dog and I. We have a beautiful home we get to call ours. We take half an hour every morning to coffee and snooze and read or write, before chill (and now chilly given the season) neighborhood walks where we greet and are greeted by our neighbors (and their pups) by name. Bimo, the neighborhood cat who LOVES everyone and their dogs; seriously, this cat could run for office she’s THAT good at convincing EVERYONE to love her. Bimo follows us down the street and back to our garden where she tries to convince me to let her in the house (I draw the line; no more cats. I’m not heartless. She does have her own humans and is an indoor/outdoor kitty – indoor mostly when it’s cold or inclement weather). After walks, and sometimes during, I drink coffee. With half and half. I count half and half as one of the luxuries I still get to enjoy. It transforms coffee – thank you Addison for introducing me to half and half all those years ago. And butter. Damn, butter is good. Don’t worry, she also introduced me to running as a fun sport, so balance…
Where was I? Oh, the laundry list of our good life. Save it to say that our life is pretty fucking excellent. I get to work mostly from home. Bryce gets a lot of sunbathing time. Sometimes she gets visits from her human-Dad, whom she adores. Sometimes I get human visits from her human Dad, who’s my best friend. Or from other humans, whom I also adore.
And did I mention my neighbors? Who when I ask to borrow their leaf blower then offer to blow the leaves up into piles for me. Who watch out for me and my house and notice when my door has popped open – and close it. Who invite me to sit at their fire pit and chat.
Damn good life.
This weekend, I took a chunk of time to read through my last year of blog posts from Thanksgiving 2016 to Thanksgiving 2017. There aren’t many. Mainly because I avoided writing last year due to shame and fear. Also because I struggled to stay in the game while wrestling tumor and cancer-fear and chronic physical pain and divorce and emotional pain and financial disaster. Oh, and doctoral training. That little thing I’m doing. (Hah!) I struggled to remember post-tumor and in the midst of cancer-fear and chronic physical pain and divorce and emotional pain and financial disaster, and doctoral training that I HAD and HAVE a good life. That struggle was real. And it led me to dark, lonely, suicidal places.
While reading these blog posts I didn’t feel shame. I didn’t feel sad. I didn’t relive the loneliness or depression.
I felt deep love. And empathy. For the me of this past year who was doing THE BEST SHE COULD but who forgot she had a good life. I don’t ever want to forget that I have a good life.
I’ve talked before about hashtagging the hell outta #FierceJoy. One of the four tenets I want to cultivate in my life – a fiercely joyful appreciation for the little and the BIG moments. I’m reminded, just a month away from my third January in Knoxville, TN, that I still need and want to hashtag the hell outta fierce joy.
So yes, this past Saturday night, I sat in my bed, snot-bawling and talking to my dog. Sunday morning, I sat drinking coffee in the garden and the words came tumbling out my mouth: Bryson, we have a good life.
We have a good life. A damn good life. I’m cultivating a damn good life. And in that process there is SO much #FierceJoy.