Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What Is Your Heart’s Deepest Desire?

When I taught arts programs for at-risk teens, I’d have them start our 10-week course by writing what they wanted from life. When language was difficult for them, I’d have them collage or paint it. Later they would visualize then write about their lives in ten years. Where would they be living? Who would they share their lives with? What kind of work would they be doing? Then the specifics - describe the favorite room in their future home, the people who surround them, how it felt to do the work they did. For some of them this exercise was near impossible. Some of them simply said, “I hope to be alive”. Some said they hoped to be off probation. Some said maybe they could imagine working at a store. And my question always was – How can you expect anything of life if you don’t know what it is you want? You’ve got to search your heart for your deepest true desires, and then don’t be afraid to ask for it. Otherwise you are just drifting through life, going wherever the wind blows you.

Hello self. Are you listening?

Obviously I often forget to do this. Here I am in this awful year, financially and emotionally stretched to the limit and all I’m doing is dog-paddling to keep my head above water….just going wherever the current takes me. I can’t imagine my future. All I know is that I want to be out of this stress. That’s not much of a dream.

So this week is all about reclaiming my stake in life. I’m excavating the treasures of my heart, sweeping the cobwebs out of the corners, dusting off my ambitions and starting again.

Amy Ferris and I had a long talk about it, and decided this is our power week. She’ll be blogging about it as well. We’re going to do an experiment- First we get clear on what it is we really want. Self doubt, fear, shame will be swept away with the broom of truth. Then, every day this week, we will claim our heart’s desires with pure, clear intent. And watch what happens…

Yesterday was day one. I stated that I was manifesting money and miracles. I received a check in the mail for $166 dollars. Well, it’s a start, but perhaps I need to be a bit more specific.

So this week I’ll be asking myself these questions:

What does my heart want?

Where do I want to be in ten years?

What does it look like, feel like, taste like, sound like?

What (in me) is stopping me from claiming my stake in life?

We are all here for a reason. Every one of us has a purpose. Are we living our purpose, or just surviving? Will you join Amy and I for a week of miracles? We’ll start with a week, then who knows? Maybe we’ll stretch it out to a year, or maybe a lifetime? But for today…baby steps.

What does your heart yearn for?

( * Follow Amy's journey: http://marryinggeorgeclooney.com/blog/)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Miracles Are Everywhere

Have you ever experienced a miracle in your life…something you just couldn’t explain? Did you try to rationalize it away? Did you push it to the back of your mind as if it never happened? Yeah, me too. I wonder why we do that. Maybe we want to feel as though we control everything, and it’s a little too scary to admit there are forces much bigger than us in the universe.

I’ve written about several of my personal miracles on my blog ( if you want to read them, here are a few : http://hollyedexter.blogspot.com/2010/07/feathers.html,


I still forget about them, especially when I’m in crisis, as I have been for the better part of this year.

But lately I started praying again, and small miracles have already begun to happen. Miracles of the heart, of forgiveness, of kindness. Miracles of faith. I asked for help in believing again and suddenly there were articles in magazines, TV shows, emails, phone calls, books that showed up that made me feel the tingling all over, that “knowing” feeling that there was something bigger at work here. My Oprah magazine showed up today, and voila - it is all about miracles! There are some mind-blowing articles in there; Rocks that move on their own across the desert, a baby being stillborn only to come to life two hours later in his mother’s arms, a man who has healed thousands of people around the world with nothing but his mind and heart…

Miracles happen every day but we don’t talk about them. They aren’t reported on the news. People don’t discuss them at cocktail parties. Oh but we talk about Hollywood gossip and fashion and political mudslinging. Why don’t we talk about our miracles? What are we afraid of? Would people think we were crazy if we shared them?

Okay then. I’ll start it off. I’m crazy because I believe in miracles, and I’m going to start talking about it. A lot. I hope you’ll join me. In these troubling times, we need something positive to anchor ourselves to.

Will you share a miracle with me today?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gratitude from the Dexter brood

Well it’s Thanksgiving again, a wonderful time to gather my own growing family around one table (a miracle in itself) and appreciate one another.
And wow, I am thankful. Truly thankful, even though this year has drained us of every last cent in our “emergency cushion” fund, and we’re now sitting on just box springs. Borrowed, financed box springs, at that. But hey…I’m not begging on the streets in Calcutta. I’m not living in a cave in Afghanistan. I’m not a prisoner of war. For as broke-ass-broke as this year has made us, I know that come tomorrow morning we’ll be like the Who’s down in Who-ville. We’ll hold hands and sing, and nobody – no Grinchy year, no cockroaches, no attacking pitbulls nor threatening neighbors, nor lawsuits, nor sewage spills, nor exploding appliances, cars and plumbing, no depression or loss, will be able to stop us. Because as cheesy as it may sound, what this family is rich in is love.
Big time L O V E.
Love and mess and chaos, but love overriding all.
I’m so thankful for my beautiful daughter Cristen, who is healthy and thriving in life, my newly married son Taylor who is balancing work with being a husband and father, a beautiful daughter-in-law Aya and our new angel Ayumu, and my little firecracker Evan who keeps me on my toes. Above all, I thank god every day for my husband Troy, who has weathered every storm with me so brilliantly. With him by my side I know I can get through anything (but please, Universe, let’s not test that theory).
But it’s when I take my friends into assessment that I realize - the year that brought us to our knees financially has given us something much more valuable. We got to see the true beauty in people. We have been surrounded by love and support, held up by kindness and empathy, bolstered by generosity of spirit. Our friends have given so much to us…so much. As much as I look forward to slamming the screen door on 2010’s ass next month, I will always cherish the gifts of love and friendship it brought me. (Not to mention it forced me to write a lot more just to maintain my sanity.)
Today is a day for giving thanks (because tomorrow I’ll be cooking all day.) You know how they have the acknowledgements page in a book? This is my acknowledgements page for this year. I couldn’t have survived the MOTHER OF ALL BAD YEARS without all of you. So cheers….I’ll be thinking of you tomorrow when I raise a glass. (Hell, what am I saying? I’m not waiting until tomorrow!)
Thank you Erin and Beth….for oh my god… everything. All the time. Every day. Life is unimaginable without you.
Thank you Dani and Hayden and Carly, for being my family, for loving us, for loving Evan and Mu so much, and so well. And thank you Joy for being Joy, and Cindy for brilliance and kindness and patience and dependability and endless support. And AMY for generosity and lifting my spirit, showing me how to be brave more times this year than I could possibly count. And Julie and Mary, OY! - where to even begin? And Monica for laughter, tears, hand-holding and margaritas…and Linda for the same! And my miracle brother Ted and sister Heather and all my family in Texas, you are my heart. Beverlee and Laura for your hearts and connection to my childhood. Joe for soulful music and deep friendship. Wayne Foster Entertainment for fun, glamorous work- and Dean De Lorenzo and Matt Sedoti and Rob for booking us all year. Lifelong friends Kelly and Keri, and Diane C for 23 years of constant belief and encouragement and burden-sharing. And all my beautiful writers/artist friends who encourage and support not only me but one another : Maxee and Barb and Madge and Richard (best poetic emails!) and Melody and Joyce M. and Diane L and all my Pam’s and Cheryl and Kathleen and Laurenne and Hope and Zoe and all my Amy’s and Cathy and Kristine and Molly and Denise and Christina and Stacy and Stacey and Sharon and Anita and Barbara and wow- I could spend all day writing names….there are so many people I am grateful for. So many of you mommy-friends ( Karla and Manuela and Aneesa) and facebook friends and childhood friends who wrote kind, supportive things all year long- Karen, Maria, Metris, Stacey, Scott, Laura, Mary, Rob for renewed friendship and Dennis- for saving my butt this Summer. Thank you both Mark C and Denise for guiding us through some scary police/legal challenges. Thanks to my awesome neighbors (all the others are GOOD ones) and all the wonderful people who keep Troy composing and ABCMouse.com and Troy’s friends (Tamara and Lori- love you girls!) and family for keeping him upright through the storm…and Cristen’s great bosses at Live Nation for making her so happy and all the people who employ Taylor- Big Moves and Emily Osment and GLEE and White Lights and …Evan’s amazing school and great teachers.
There is so much to be grateful for it’s starting to feel like a gratitude avalanche so please forgive me if I’ve forgotten to include your name, I am tearfully overwhelmed and they are starting to play the “get off the stage” music…..
Counting my blessings today, I feel not just rich, but uber-rich. Crazy rich. Gold plated engine parts and diamond encrusted teeth rich. If only MTV had a show for “Inner” cribs…I’d be showing Jay-Z what rich means.
Happy Thanksgiving everybody! I am grateful for YOU, every one of you, more than you will ever know.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lions and Tigers and Bears...oh my!

Lions and Tigers and Bears - Ha! They're nothing compared to roaches and black widows and centipedes, which is my disaster du jour. At least lions and tigers and bears can’t infiltrate your home right before Thanksgiving.
It’s as though the Halloween fairy paid a special visit. Or maybe the Wicked Witch. Or perhaps it’s Mother Nature letting me know my crappy year isn’t quite over yet- and this is her grand finale.
After having killed three black widows inside my house in the span of a week, and finding several three-inch long centipedes INSIDE MY HOUSE, the other night I was taking a cup out to make tea, and a cockroach skittled up my arm, causing me to scream and drop the cup. I didn’t know whether to call an exterminator or an exorcist.
We bought this house eleven years ago, and although it’s in a wilderness area, we have never had any trouble with insects or pest of any kind. But then again, this is 2010, the mother of all bad years. The (organic) exterminator told me that because California has basically had Spring for the past six months, perfect weather also helps insects to thrive and populate.
Anyhow, my husband and I spent all day Saturday moving our appliances out and scrubbing and sanitizing every square inch of this house. But what those bastard insects didn’t know was that Troy and I had snuggled in bed watching Avatar that morning (yes, we actually were the last people on Earth to see it). I was inspired. I was ready. I pictured Troy and I as the Navee, fighting the evil ones who sought to infiltrate our land. Except I did not look like Zoe Saldana flying on an alien pterodactyl’s back, wielding my bow. Here’s what I looked like: hair in a knot on my head, wearing pajama bottoms, fuzzy socks, a man’s extra large t-shirt, black industrial cleaning gloves, holding a mop and boric acid. I blew myself a kiss in the mirror, Oh yeaaaah girl, you’re bringing sexy back.
This is just the way it is right now. My life is not glamorous. What I’ve learned in my years on this planet is that it is a waste of energy to rail against what is.
Like everything else that’s happened this year, we had to come up with a formula for dealing with disaster. These are our FIVE As for handling a Dexterocious catastrophe.
1) Assessment: Stop saying oh my god and try to wrap your brain around the situation.
2) Acceptance: Pull your head out of your butt and accept that this is your new reality.
3) Action: Take your emotions out of it and do something rational.
4) Accounting: Get another loan to pay for most recent disaster.
5) Act: Act as if you believe everything is going to be okay, then pray like crazy.
So we’re employing our usual method to this one…and meanwhile I have construction guys here pounding on my walls, sealing up all the holes they left this Summer when they tore my house apart trying to find the solution to my plumbing/septic problems, which we're still having, and I’ll be spending all of today clearing out all my cupboards and drawers for the exterminator who comes tomorrow…
Honestly, with all the ridiculous disasters we’ve wrangled this year, I could write a book!

Friday, November 19, 2010

A New Beginning

I am up this morning before the dawn, taking inventory of this day, of my life and what it means to me. In the past, this was always my worst time of year. I struggled with depression, fighting off the darkness that returned to my heart every November as the days became dark and cold winds howled, reminding me that sixteen years ago today, we almost lost our lives in a fire.
On November 19, 1994, we were being released from the hospital in our blackened greasy pajamas. The nurse came into our room, removed our oxygen masks and cheerily told us, “Your carbon monoxide levels have leveled out. You can go home now!” Troy and I stared at each other in disbelief, as I held my four year old son Taylor tight against me, and looked at his sooty, tear-stained face. We had no home. We had no possessions. We didn’t even have shoes. Our daughter had been at a sleepover, and had no idea. We would have to tell her soon that as we slept that night, an electrical fire began in the walls of the house, that we were trapped by raging flames and had to jump out second story windows onto cement below.
Troy was on crutches. I had burns on my back and arms. After throwing my four year old out the window to Troy, I was the last one out before the explosions started. We could not get back inside to save our pets. Whitney, Lady, Munchkin, Angel and Bunny were gone.
Later, I wrote this poem about that morning.

November 19, 1994
The Destroyer
The destroyer has come
And left nothing in its wake
Men in plastic coats
Trudge through the ashes
Moving clumsily
Over the corpses of our dreams
That still smolder
And stink up the morning sky

Shell-shocked, charred and broken
We stand at the side of the road
Tears resolve nothing
But only serve to wash away
The last traces
Of what we were
Changing us forever
But cleansing nothing

What was the meaning
of all that meaning
If only to be stripped from our canvas
Exposing a vast emptiness
Of all possibility and no possibility
Beckoning but not inviting
It awaits

I stand motionless, no palette in hand
Silence pervades
Even the angry voices in my head
Are quiet now
False optimism is offered freely
I swallow every last drop

Clutching it like a crucifix
I face the cold and distant unknowing
Wearing it like a warm coat
I take my first steps
Blind and shivering
as a newborn babe
I begin again
I am alive.

This morning as I woke, I didn’t feel depressed. I felt with every cell in my body that yes, I am alive. And after the nightmare of a year we’ve had, I am wide awake. I know this life is a gift, and I will not squander a moment of it. Today is a new beginning. I vow to step into my own shoes, and own this life I’ve been given. No more hiding behind insecurities and fear. I am stepping in, leaning into it with everything I’ve got.
From now on, November 19th marks the anniversary of my new life, my very best life.
No looking back, only looking forward...
So much beauty lies ahead, I just know it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Are Prayers Always Answered?

Some say that our prayers are always answered, but perhaps not in the way we expect. That’s a hard pill to swallow. Two weeks ago, as my dog Brandy lied on her side, emaciated and panting heavily, I prayed for a miracle. Two hours later she was dead, and I internalized that, thinking my prayers are never heard. But my friend Cindy said no- that was my answered prayer, it just didn’t come in the package I wanted. She said the miracle was that Brandy’s suffering had ended. I had a hard time seeing it that way.
This has been an intense, painful, and profound year. I will always remember 2010 as one of the worst of our lives and yet, it’s possible miracles were being shaped in the middle of the misery, miracles I may not be able to see at this time. It’s possible…
One of the awful events of this year was the ongoing nightmare with our violent neighbor and his vicious pitbulls. It began early this year when they moved in to the rental house next door. A few days later, their pitbulls who were running loose, came after us in our own yard. We first dealt with it in a neighborly way, addressing the new neighbors in a calm manner. Then the pitbulls attacked our friends’ Dalmation, sending her to the hospital. Twice. Then it happened again, and again to other neighborhood dogs, then their Shepard chased my pregnant daughter-in-law down the street snapping at her legs, and finally in May our dog was attacked. The neighbor’s scoffed at our $400 vet bill, as well as other neighbor’s vet bills. And just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, the neighbor took it to a new level when he threatened my husband’s life. That was when we ran the background check on this loser and found out he had a previous arrest for assault with a deadly weapon – against a woman.
Troy and I are gentle people. We don’t name call, we don’t threaten, we don’t fight with people. But this awful situation put us all in danger, and like it or not, we had to fight. We put a restraining order on the guy. We got court orders against him and his dogs. The court orders were that he could only take his dogs out harnessed and muzzled only in the early morning or late evening, so other neighbors could walk their dogs safely during the day. He repeatedly violated this court order, staring me down as he walked by, his dogs barking and lunging at me.
For a year, we’ve had to endure the snarling at the fence every time we go into our yard. We couldn’t let Evan ride a bike or play outside at all. We could no longer enjoy the daily hikes that we’d taken every day for the past eleven years. I couldn’t go running in the beautiful hills- had to stay inside on my treadmill. We’ve been prisoners inside our own home, all the while hearing the constant barking and snarling next door as the pits fought each other over food or lunged at the fence at other neighbors who passed by on the street.
Every night I prayed and prayed for these dogs and their owners to go away.
And then last Friday, it all exploded. It was a gorgeous day, so Cindy and I took our five year olds and my French bulldog to the park for a picnic. The kids were playing in the sand, Cindy and I sitting on a picnic blanket with my little dog when to my horror, the pitbulls came running unaccompanied into the park. Amidst a lot of Oh my God Oh my gods…I swooped up my dog and jumped to my feet. Cindy screamed for the children to climb to the top of the jungle gym. Just at that moment the pits zeroed in on my dog in my arms, who they’ve been trying to attack through our backyard fence every day for months, knocking one of our fenceboards loose. They barreled toward me barking and snarling. I tossed my dog over the chain link fence that surrounded the children’s play area while Cindy screamed and waved a stick at the pitbulls. I then jumped over the fence, grabbed my dog and ran to the top of the jungle gym positioning myself in front of the kids. I screamed for Cindy to grab the steel trashcan and drag it in front of the entrance to the play area. Cindy stood behind the trashcan with a stick, ready to strike. I held the kids who were now frightened, because I was crying. Cindy called 911 and called my husband Troy. About a minute later Troy came running to the park, video camera in hand. The dogs charged toward him barking viciously. They’ve wanted a piece of him for a long time. They growl at him through our backyard fence, and every time their owner walks them they lunge at him, straining to break from their leashes. Now they were free and he was standing alone.
I screamed for him to get away but he stood unmoved, video camera running. When they got within a few feet of him, Troy still didn’t move. He was so full of rage at this point he was ready to take them on, and to my amazement, the dogs actually slowed down, then ran the other direction. I was stunned. Troy showed no fear, which seemed to unnerve the dogs (either that or they could see the ten foot tall guardian angel that was surely standing over us all).
I remained trapped at the top of the jungle gym with the kids and my dog, waiting for the police. For forty minutes those damn dogs ran loose, as Troy stood watch with a big stick, and Cindy ran home for help.
The entirety of our Friday was spent dealing with this ordeal. We had the police at our home, animal services officers, etc…and a million phone calls between. Once again, because of these neighbors, Troy lost a full day of work (in addition to the days spent in court and at Animal Services and filing police reports etc).
Is there a reason for all this godawful drama? Are we being taught to stand up to bullies, to be tougher? Are we just having our faith tested? I felt angry as I thought about how much I’ve prayed this year for those dogs to be gone, and how once again my prayers went unheard. But then another thought came. Maybe it took this terrifying ordeal to finally get animal services to do something more than post warnings, and for the courts to do something more than issue a piece of paper.
On Saturday morning Troy drove out to Animal Services to have a meeting with the lead sergeant. Cindy and I both wrote detailed reports of the event (never mess with two writers- the pen is mightier…as they say) which he turned in plus showed her the video of the pitbulls charging at him.
I continued to pray, even though I thought I wasn’t good at it.
Saturday night we were at a gig when Troy got the voicemail from Animal Services. After a year of hell, the officer called to tell us we could finally get a good night’s sleep knowing our neighborhood was safe. The pitbulls had been confiscated from the neighbors.
I couldn’t believe it. Maybe that horrific event was indeed the twisted answer to my prayers. There are a million other ways that scenario at the park could have played out, and believe me I stayed awake that night playing them out in my head. Just moments before, Evan and Olivia had been running races across the grass…just moments. And yet, we were all safe and whole.
What is to be made of all the madness of this year? I know from experience, sometimes it takes great distance from trauma to see anything positive in it. Troy and I have surely been changed but for the better? I’m not sure. Troy said to me yesterday “I may have won the war, but I’m not without scars from it.” (and as a writer I couldn’t help thinking what a great line that was). But it’s true. My arms and legs are bruised from throwing myself over the fence, but what’s worse is my bruised spirit. We are tougher, jaded, guarded - not who we wanted to be, and we are left wondering why.
I may never realize the reason for all of this - there may not even be one. Maybe the world really is just chaos. All I know is I won’t let those people destroy who I am. I choose to be a positive person, in spite of the ugly things that have transpired, and I’m continuing to pray, just because. My prayer today is of gratitude, I might even feel a jaded, guarded slight glimmering of hope …and I will continue to pray until I see a moving van pull up in front of that house.
I'm not sure what I know or what I believe any more. What do you think? Are prayers always answered?
** (As an aside, I want to make it known that I am an animal lover, but dangerous animals have no place in a neighborhood. I have known good-natured pitbulls, but the reality is certain dogs are prone toward aggressive behavior. Michael Vick wasn’t arrested for fighting golden retrievers or collies, and you don’t hear about toddlers being mauled to death by poodles. Pitbulls are fighters, and people who own them should be forced to obtain a license and to undergo intense training. Irresponsible potheads with police records like my neighbors should never be allowed to own them.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Settle Down, Everybody.

(Morning commute. Seriously, how can you be cranky when you live here?)

I mean, really. Can we all just take a step back, breathe…and settle down?

I drove to Santa Monica this morning for a meeting on what was a truly glorious morning in Southern California - a real stunner. Brilliant blue cloudless sky, a teal blue Pacific Ocean with whitecaps, the autumn wind stirring things up, I mean really stirring things up. Including people. All this gorgeous morning, I saw people screaming at each other, cutting each other off in traffic, honking, yelling, and I wondered…where is all the anger in the world coming from right now? Californians are usually polite to each other. We are not “honkers”, generally speaking. We always give the right of way to pedestrians, even when they are clearly wrong. It’s just part of our culture. So what if we’re phony and botoxed up the ying-yang. At least we’re polite.

But not today. Whew, today I felt like I was in Manhattan at rush hour. Driving through hippy dippy mellow Topanga Canyon, two teenagers darted across the road right in front of me causing me to brake, then I came to a stop to make sure there weren’t any more “darters” coming, at which point the SUV behind me lays on the horn. Hey dude, this is Topanga okay? We don’t run people over here, so why don’t you just roll up a fatty and chill out, okay?

As I drove into the heart of Santa Monica, I saw a guy whiz around the corner right through the crosswalk with a devilish look in his eye Yeah that’s right, blonde housewife with your yoga mat, walking your damn Chihuahua across Santa Monica Blvd., you better jump up on the curb! To which said blonde lady screamed ARE YOU F*CKING BLIND? Oh no, no people. We do not behave this way in Santa Monica. We meet for drinks or coffee or yoga. We shop. We lunch. We don’t run pedestrians onto the curb and we don’t curse. Several more screaming incidents later, even the parking attendant was barking at me…and I just decided, you know what? I’m not participating in this madness. I told the rude parking attendant to have a wonderful day, smiled and drove slowly and carefully away.

I don’t know what the hell is going on but people are just freekin’ wound up lately, around politics, around everything. And we all need to calm the f*ck down before things get out of hand. So will you all take a beat today to breathe, and maybe be more patient with others bad behavior, just for today. If we all refuse to participate in the anger, maybe we can turn the heat down a notch.

Talked to my friend Amy this morning, just before I left and she asked me if I’d read my horoscope today.

“No- didn’t have a chance.”

“Oh good,” she said, “Don’t.”

Oy. Now I think I know why.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Life Lessons Learned at Lowe's

I was standing in line at Lowe’s picking up a few household repair items, in a blustery rush as usual, distracted by my kid who keeps wandering away while I’m scrounging through my wallet to find my ATM card buried under a million crumpled receipts. The clerk asks me something and I realize that with all my distraction, I haven’t even made eye contact with her.
I look up with a smile, “Hmm? I’m sorry, what?”
“I said…how’s your cat?”
Oh my…think….think. Do I know this woman? Have we spoken before? Geez, how do I get so caught up that I don’t even know who I’m talking to!
“He’s fine…thanks for asking.”
She smiles , and after a close look at her… I don’t think I know this woman.
So I ask, “How did you know I had a cat?
She points at me, without a beat, “Your shirt.”
I look down at my black t-shirt, which looks like a spent the morning cuddling with an angora rabbit.
So I learned two lessons that day
1) Never leave the house without looking in a mirror
2) Lowe’s hires comedians.
So glad to be able to share my revelations with all of you.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rethinking Faith

Strangely, it feels like Spring this November. The Sun is shining bright in California, and the fields outside my house are green, alive with flowers. Even though it's oddly unseasonal, I'm grateful for the respite.
I feel the fog lifting from my life, I think, I hope…All this year, we’ve been dog paddling just to stay above water, as life continued to throw us one curve ball after the next. Well, it was more extreme than curve balls…it would be more accurate to say we’ve been dodging bullets.
But now I am exhaling…I feel the change happening. I believe the storm is over for now, and I’m ready to rebuild. As I am walking through the tattered emotional wasteland of my life taking inventory, one of the things that got hit hardest was probably my faith. Faith in what?
I’ve just been trying to survive. No time for contemplating, musing. No time for meditation and centering, although it’s what I needed most. Yes- there were some frantic prayers bandied about…to the great unknown. And at times I felt I was being looked out for. By who? I don’t pretend to know.
But now…I miss that part of myself. The part who is hopeful and optimistic. The part who believes that there is a benevolent reason for all the things we survive.
I have no idea what I believe or how to get back to that girl I was before everything got so crazy. But I think prayer is a good start. Prayer to who? To what? I have no idea, but I’ll just throw it out there and see what happens…

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Goodbye Friend.

(Brandy and Stitch playing in the living room)
One late night, six years ago, I was driving Taylor and his buddies home from one of their first gigs, when suddenly a big dog ran in front of my car and laid down in the street. We pulled over and called to her. She was timid, and at first she hid in the bushes, but finally she ran to me, collapsing at my feet. She was emaciated and filthy and very weak. Her legs had deep cuts- possibly coyote attack. Troy picked her up and carried her to our car and we took her home. When we fed her, she devoured the food like a wild animal. In the morning I took her to the vet. They dressed her leg wounds. She had a bad upper respiratory infection, so we got her on antibiotics and within a few days, our mellow rescue dog was a wild out of control lunatic who demolished everything in the house.
It took time, but eventually we housetrained her, taught her to sit, stay and walk on a leash. And we taught her how to high-five, a trick she loved to show off to little kids.
Life with Brandy wasn’t always easy. She was a scrappy thing, our street dog. She was an alpha, and although she never hurt another dog, she would let them know who was boss. She often drove us crazy with her need to dominate everything and everybody. If she wanted to be pet, she didn’t just sit at your feet, she got inches away from your face and would put her head under your hand repeatedly until you got the clue. She and Stitch used to tear through the living room chasing each other, adding to the chaos of our already turbulent household.
It’s funny how the things that annoy you will one day be the things you miss the most. How I wished in these last few weeks that she would push up against me and beg for attention, or go tearing through the living room.
Early July is when I noticed her panting hard in the middle of the night. Although we did extensive tests on her, nothing showed up. She still hiked with us, and played with Stitch, and ate heartily every day, but she was losing weight rapidly. In four months, she had lost 30 pounds. A few weeks ago I put my palm up to her for a high five, and she couldn’t muster up the strength. That’s when I knew we were in real trouble.
She stopped hiking with us, which was her favorite daily activity. She’d just lay down in the field and quit. Then she stopped eating a couple days ago. And by yesterday, she couldn’t get up at all. Her breathing was labored, her heart pounding erratically.
Panicked, we took her back to the vet, and he told us there was nothing he could do. It seemed her organs were shutting down. They still didn’t know what had gotten her, but with that weight loss, he felt sure it was some form of cancer. He said the kindest thing we could do was to help her cross over.
Although we wanted her suffering to end, it is the still most counterintuitive thing in the world to make the decision to end your pet’s life. Saying goodbye was so hard. I swear she knew what was happening, and it broke my heart. I told her she’d be with Sky now, our black lab who we lost three years ago. Evan said goodbye and I took him out of the room. Troy stayed with her until she was gone. When he came out of the room sobbing, I knew it was over. We walked to the car in silence, Evan dragging her leash, telling us he was walking his invisible dog.
I woke up this morning before the sun and walked through the house. Her leash hung by the front door. Her dog dish sat empty. Brandy is gone.
Good bye friend. Thanks for protecting us, and making us laugh, and making sure we got out to hike every day. I hope we did right by you, Brandy. You sure did annoy us sometimes and we did get mad at you, but we loved you. I hope you are having fun romping through fields with Sky, your best buddy. You were the best high-fiver on four paws, and we will always cherish the memories we had with you.
You may be gone, but the love we had for you is still here. I hope you took that with you when you left us last night.