For Oh…

 

I can see you there

in the distance.

You’ve been looming

for a while.

Your shape is coming

into focus.

Your existence is

undeniable.

I always knew you

would find me.

I never thought I would

come to you.

I cannot stop it,

the pull.

It is unwanted.

It is inevitable.

I feel myself moving

towards you.

Dragging my heels.

Kicking.

Screaming.

Propelled.

I am not ready

to meet you.

Not if meeting you

means saying goodbye

to all the rest.

I don’t know you.

We’ve never met,

but you are there

and you have me

and there is nothing I can do

but learn

to love you back.

Good Days and Bad.

He looks up at me from the grass. First with just his eyes, then he lifts his head. I love that face. It looks exactly the same as it did a decade ago. He needs a haircut, but I don’t want to make him do anything that is unpleasant. Not now.

His eyes seem to question, but I have no idea what. He doesn’t seem to hurt. He is stiff. His back legs don’t work as well as they used to and this morning he didn’t have an appetite so he refused the medication that makes his heart work. I worry. That’s what I do. It is useless, but I can’t make it stop. I think back a few years to when he hurt his back and we had to keep him confined in a human baby’s pack-n-play to force him to rest up. He was a trooper then too. I was a basket case.

Yesterday he was hungry and he will likely be so again in a little while, but for now I give him the only thing I know he wants. I let him lounge in the grass, in the sun, in the yard we told him we made just for him.

I try not to cry around him. He’s never liked that, although he’s always tried to comfort me in times of sorrow with a lick or a nudge or just proximity. I only want him to feel happiness and love. I would gladly take all of his pain into myself. I would give him my heart of I could.

In a few weeks he will be 14. I don’t think he knows that, although I think lately he feels his age. I wonder if I had done things differently if he would have more time. I realize I have no idea how much time he has. I think of all of our adventures and wonder if he enjoys them. He’s been everywhere with us. He’s an excellent traveler. He never complains.

I cook for him now. Trying to find just the right formula like a new 1950s housewife trying to please her picky, hungry husband when he arrives home from a long day at the office. I try recipe after recipe thinking that one of them will be the magic stomach-settler. He loves chicken.

Bartoo gets up and takes the few steps from his spot in the grass to the foot of the porch where I am sitting, drinking coffee. He woofs that woof that tells me he needs something and twirls around to chase his tail. Just a single rotation. It makes him cough a little, but I take the activity as a good sign, although I can still hear his insides churning and gurgling. OK, plain chicken and white rice and you can come sit on the porch, in the shade.

I step down to where he is and pick him up. Even if we had already finished building the stairs to the porch he wouldn’t be able to get up them on his own, he stopped taking the stairs inside the house almost a year ago. I kiss him on the top of his head. I’m not sure he understands this gesture, but I do it for me. I put him down on the porch and he sniffs the air. A gentle breeze blows the long white hair back on his face and he looks thoughtful. I wonder, as I often do, what (if anything) he is thinking.

We sit for a minute or so before I talk him into coming back inside. The water is boiling. I throw the chicken in the pot. “This will work,” I think, “this will fix the problem inside him. One of them, at least.” I hope. No one can really seem to tell me what the problem is. Side effects of the drugs? Allergies? Bad food? I am left with observation, trial and error and lost sleep. I do it. I place my focus on him.

He deserves it. He’s my dog. He has good days and bad.

Practice…

I come to a seated position. My legs are crossed at the shins, folding my limbs neatly in front of me. I feel the bones of my seat ground down as the floor pushes back up from underneath. I have moved my mat to the hall today, where the wooden floor is newly repainted. The hard wood floor makes me feel strong, powerful, grounded.

I bring my hands together at my heart center. I breathe. In. Out. Again, I breathe. Deeper this time. In. Out.

I extend my arms out in front of me and roll forward until I am ultimately on my hands and knees in table posture. I let my belly sink down and lift my chest forward to cow. I feel my heart begin to open. I tuck my lower belly up towards the bones of my pelvis and arch my upper back creating the reverse concave pose called “cat”. I repeat the movements. I breathe. Inhale cow, exhale cat, and again. I repeat the movement and link it with the breath one more time for good measure.

I pause at neutral between poses.

I breathe.

Without a thought, my hips lift into the air forming an upside down “v” which is the first of many downward facing dog poses my body will practice today.

I sink in.

I let my back become long. I bend my knees, creating more length in my back before straightening them and extending my heels to the mat. I rock back and forth and stretch out.  I have been doing this for a long time, I know what is the best thing for my body today – or any given day. So I slow down. I take my time. I breathe upside down in down dog. In. Out. In. Out.

I rock forward and pause for a moment in plank. I feel strong, strong and safe.

I breathe.

As I exhale I lower myself towards the floor as slowly as I can by bending my elbows into chaturanga dandasana. I rock forward as I inhale into upward facing dog. I roll my shoulders back, opening my heart again. Further this time.

I exhale and tighten in my belly. I ground down into the mat with my arms and lift my hips into the air again rolling over the tops of my toes to form the second down dog of today. And I breathe. And again.

I push all of the air out of my lungs and look towards the space between my hands. I transfer the weight into my arms and hop my feet lightly to my hands. I inhale. I lift my head to look forward, flattening my back and lengthening while keeping my fingertips on the mat.

I exhale. I fold forward into myself and my nose comes towards my knees.

As I inhale I float my arms out to the side and rise up to standing with a flat back. I exhale, bringing my arms down and pausing for a moment with my hands at my heart center in anjali mudra before letting them descend slowly to my sides.

I stand. I breathe. My practice has begun.