Neighbors

There is a life/death/life cycle that no one wants to live too closely to.   This week, as the full moon began it’s decent to the grave and the bluebells pushed towards the light and life waiting for them above the loose soil, a mirroring occurred in my own life.

On Monday, my dog slipped out the back, giving chase to a beautiful black cat who sometimes takes up residence on our porch.  For thirty minutes, my two-year-old and I walked the street calling her name, occasionally hearing her bark.   Finally, able to pinpoint her call, we waded into the woods trespassing through a neighbor’s side yard.  With a sickening feeling in my stomach, I see my dog running away from a woman who was calling out to me.

“Is this your dog?”

“Yes.” I replied, worried she had jumped on the lady.  “I am so sorry, she got out the back door.”

Hearing my voice, Bella collapsed onto a pile of decaying leaves.

“I hit her.  OMG I am so sorry.  I hit her.  She just darted out in front of me. I am so sorry.” She sobbed.

It was then I saw Bella closely and noticed the paw held gingerly at an odd angle.  I was so relived to know that she was alive.  I was so scared that something worse was hiding under her thick black fur.

 

Suddenly aware, that we were living right next door to the life/death/life cycle, but still waiting for the other shoe to fall, we lived out the next two days in that odd shadow world that descends on a home when a family member is out of sorts, away from home, or changed. The “something worse” waiting elsewhere, there was fear at the costs.  There was relief that our dog of eight and half years would be coming home.  On Wednesday, as I pulled out of my garage to pick Bella-girl up from the Vet, my phone rang.  Sophie, our family dog of seventeen years, was leaving us.  It was her time, just like the moon, just like the seasons, just like us.

There is a time of death and dying.  There is a time of life and living.  There is a very, very thin line that separates the two.

 

When I was a teenager, I was tasked with the summer of job supervising my much younger siblings.   Trying to enjoy my summer too, we often went to the library, checked out movies, or spent long days in the backyard with Sophie, exploring the woods and swinging.

In typical younger sibling fashion, anything “bad” learned was blamed on the teenager.  In typical teenager fashion, I was young enough to pick out a movie I wanted to watch, but old enough to realize when it was inappropriate for kids.  So half-way through Elizabethtown, at the introduction of a bad word they didn’t know, I figured it was in all our best interests to turn it off.

Fifteen years later, that movie has become a family favorite, particularly the shared moment between the groom and the son of the deceased.

“Life and death. Death and life.  Right next door to each other?!?!” ponders the groom hosting a “Lovin’ Life; Lovin’ You” wedding.  “There is like a hair between them.”

This interchange quickly became a favorite inside joke that has slowly drawn us towards a deeper truth.   There is no certainty in life.  I grew up believing I would celebrate every holiday with both my parents, in my child hood home.  There is no truth in that.  I was trying to live too far away from the life/death/life cycle.  I had pulled my blinds down to the truth next to me, growing and decaying in my own backyard.  I had believed that life was more precious than death. I had lived as if death was more fearsome than a life not lived.

Opening my blinds and my heart to the reality that I have lived all along in the life/death/life neighborhood is shaking my core, but deepening my roots, and pushing me to the life on the other side of the loose soil, the decay, and the death essential to my living.

 

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