Love Lives In Inconvenient Places

Love lives in places and ways often missed for love only needs an open heart to thrive. Such is the story of Harriet and Hal, a human and a Chihuahua.

They shared food and constant companionship as they spent their days in a well-worn, overstuffed recliner not far from a medium-sized, flat-screen television. Sometimes they watched current events and other times they just left the television on “for the noise.”

They did not care for quiet so when they tired of the background noise, they talked to each other. Hal seemed to take sound seriously. When they walked outdoors, Hal greeted neighbors with a steady stream of squeaks and yips that had a lower and upper register. He always had a lot to say. Harriet translated, if she felt it necessary.

Harriet is older, mid-70s, and Hal was in the middle of his eighth year. He put on weight but Harriet did not. Her health is in decline—congestive heart failure and significant vascular issues—she is a smoker, although she has tried to stop and prays every day she will.  Other than a steady increase in weight, Hal’s health was remarkably good.

Harriet often worried that Hal might outlive her. From time to time, she would formulate a plan to provide for Hal but each idea faded. She seemed to recognize their way of life was unique to them. It was as if she decided she would just have to outlive Hal. And so she has.Clarity in the wild 0413

On the second day in October, Hal’s health went into decline. Like Harriet, he developed congestive heart failure and there was fluid in his lungs; then, he had trouble walking and finally, could no longer stand.

Harriet rearranged their lives as best as she was able, including securing a new veterinarian who makes house calls. Hal did spend just over 24 hours at the animal hospital but his need for Harriet was greater than his need for better nutrition, a smoke-free environment or medical care.

Upon Hal’s return home, he yipped and squeaked until he had told Harriet all he had to say. They spent their last night together in their chair with Harriet doing most of the talking. The next day, Harriet held him in her arms as he died.

In Hal’s last two weeks I was a part of their world more than I had ever been for we only saw each other in the way that neighbors do these days, fleetingly. I was aware and not aware of how they lived.

Once inside their home, I struggled to keep judgment at bay. At times, my compassion left me, and I should have followed. I was trying to change the outcome as well as the story line, neither of which was mine to do.

It was only in embracing the pain of two friends saying goodbye–living as they had always lived—that I was able to help them, which is all they had asked. In letting go, another way of living began.

We are pure awareness experiencing life in all its appearances. In breaking open, all the labels and judgments spill out, leaving only the raw, pure energy of being alive. It is then we touch what is deepest in us and extend it to another.

This month’s Bloggers for Peace considers the challenge of embracing life as it is when everything in your being resists. Harriet and Hal showed me one way.forpeace6

Other Bloggers for Peace Posts:

Chronicles of a Public Transit User

Faith Fusion

A Quiet Prayer of Thanks

19 thoughts on “Love Lives In Inconvenient Places

  1. What a sensitive, insightful post, altogether. The beauty of it in connection to the peace challenge is… wow. So profound. You are wonderful!

    Thank you.
    Meredith

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  4. Wonderful post, my friend. Such a touching tribute. Your paragraph:
    “We are pure awareness experiencing life in all its appearances. In breaking open, all the labels and judgments spill out, leaving only the raw, pure energy of being alive. It is then we touch what is deepest in us and extend it to another.”
    is one of the most lucid visions of peace I have encountered. I have a feeling that this occurred between everyone in the story. Glad you were able to see your head take over and retouch with your heart. Hope Harriet was able to read this. {{{Hugs}} Kozo

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    • Thanks, Kozo! As you know, when the heart leads, compassion follows. As you and I have been discussing, compassion challenges us to our core, and as raw as the feeling is, it is one of the most powerful I have ever felt. Your kind words mean a great deal to me, Kozo. Thank you!
      Karen

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  6. What a beautiful post, Karen! I have similar struggles with wanting to change outcomes and story lines that are not mine to change, but how wonderful it is that you were able to let go of that and bring your compassionate presence instead.

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    • While my preference would have been to remain compassionate throughout, I take solace in that compassion served us all when we needed it most. Harriet and Hal helped me a great deal, and I suspect I will always remember them for that. Thanks, Kenetha.
      Karen

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  7. Hi Karen – this is a very moving post. A circumstance to test philosophy. We never know, I think, just how we will react when confronted with a situation like this where every option is both right and wrong, where somebody will lose irrespective of which option is chosen. It is, I fear, one of the uncomfortable realities of the human condition. Like August, I just love your line ‘In letting go, another way of living began’. Wonderfully put!

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    • Matthew, your words are spot-on as loss was always part of the equation. I knew that but my head took over from my heart for a while. It has been an incredible lesson for me. Thanks so much, Matthew.
      Karen

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    • Yes, August, you and your “brindle heart” were much on my mind as I wrote the post. You have many days of love together, and those days will provide for you as you need them. Thanks for your kind words, August. Karen

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    • Thanks, Elizabeth. It’s great to see you here. Judgment is an ongoing struggle for me but it helps to remember that I can let it go every time and look at what it is showing me. Hope your recovery continues and congrats on the daily word count.
      Karen

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  8. I heard the start of that story from you on Wednesday. Although the outcome seemed inevitable then, that didn’t stop me from feeling the familiar prickle of tears over the loss. But loss is part of life–and the sadness worth it when weighed against such a friendship.

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