Carrying Memories and Moving Forward

It has been more than a month since Lilly moved to her new home. The ache within does not grab with the strength of the early days. I am told great stories. She is running with new four-legged friends. She is sharing her abundant love and care with her companions (the two legged type). Last week I received wonderful pictures of a recent camping trip where Lils actually got her feet wet! She is happy and I am grateful.
Time – the one thing in life that nudges us along when we have little energy to move on our own. Forward – the only way to go without creating unduly and unhealthy resistance. Breath – the one gift that sustains and fills us with the mystery of our Great Creator.
I am thankful for all of these ‘gifts’. Gifts that continue to support me as I live into one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. In a way unforeseen, Lilly and I did what we have always done. We took care of one another. As she delights in her newfound friends and freedom, I am happy and able to go greet each day with my own re-discovered freedom. I can make plans and not be concerned. Lilly is not stressing over my needs ( her responsibility for so long). And I am free to move about with complete focus on all the fun and demanding details of living into a new home and make new friends.
We took care of one another. How I love the irony of life!20120603-011119.jpg

A Birthday – celebrating a dog’s life

20120401-052849.jpgBorn on Easter Sunday, April 1, 2003, today is the birthday of my assist dog, Lilly. Placed in my lap at 8 weeks, by her breeder with the comment, ‘this one would rather be loved than eat.’, I held her close against me all the way home. It would be the first of only a few times I would be able to hold her as she grew quickly in size and height.
There has never been a doubt that she loved attention and wanted to work (even though she can challenge who should set the rules). My companion through the best and worst times of these last nine years, she knows me by heart. Her response to the sound of an object hitting the floor is swift. As she was taught, her work to retrieve the object for me is strategic – placing it higher into my arms until she is certain I can once again hold it safely. Her response to the sound of sadness is immediate. She knows to stay near and offer comfort blessed with intuition.
Our journey has been filled with unexpected turns. She has helped in the work of re-making home as we have moved four times in her nine years (though she is never fond of the sight of boxes and packing tape!). We are just now settling into our newest home and share the hope that boxes will not be needed again for a very long time.
Nine years are considered a long time in the world of relationships. I give thanks this day for Lilly. That we found one another is a miracle! That we can bring one another comfort and strength is a gift. She has worked hard to figure out my next need and this continues.
With much gratitude I celebrate Lilly’s ninth birthday, may God grant her many years!

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By my side…

For nine years I have greeted each day with my companion, Lilly, by my side. Trained to be an assist dog, she has retrieved multiple objects dropped or out of my reach – from pens to book, from coat hangers to telephones – Lilly has heard the call for these and many other items and made her way from floor to my lap or arms, her attention focused on where I am and my care.

These days Lilly seldom leaves my sight. Her intuition is sharp – she knows we are in another time of transition. Boxes have begun to appear, and as before, she knows that means change is in the air. It is no secret to friends and family, from the beginning my retirement has filled me with mixed emotions. There are moments in a day when I have to stop – to regroup – to grieve. Overwhelmed with the change and the current preparation to move, I decided long ago – when I needed a “crying break” I would take it.

A few days ago it was time for one of those ‘breaks’. With all of the resources she could find, Lilly tended to my sadness. From cleaning my hands to putting her head in my lap, she tried everything to ‘settle’ me. Finally after a whimper or two of her own, she went to the door and barked. As my assistant entered, Lilly led her to me and stood by my side. She watched – when I began to calm she stretched out beside me with a sigh.

 As I continue to re-adjust to my newer limitations, Lilly carries hope. She brings delight in each day and maintains a routine that helps me refocus when I am feeling most scattered.  With only a few weeks before she and I move to a new home, she reminds me time and again that I am not alone.  She will remain by my side waiting to nudge me when ‘we’ need a break from the work of  sorting and packing.  She knows to keep track of the important things –  a walk in the fresh air or the evening game of ball – after all, (she says with her wise and playful eyes) life is an adventure and so much lies ahead for us. Her presence in my life remains a delight, bringing comfort when no words need be spoken.  

I end this day in gratitude for my companion, Lilly.