It Was Always a Love Story

Usually, I publish my longer pieces on this blog, a bit of a #LongerView. I link to them on Aim for Even where I provide a swinging bench and invite the reader to sit a moment, if the topic suits.

Today, I offer you the same as I say a final goodbye to feline EmmaRose in The Roses of Our Lives. About eight months ago, I wrote about her leaving for an animal sanctuary.

I never doubted my decision but I never lost the ache in my heart, either. Love is what is best in us.  For me, EmmaRose was always a love story, and as you will discover, that never changed.

Testament of Friendship

The past ripples round me. It is a time of reflection—one last look—before I let go. In reflection is the unchanged past but looking through the eyes of the present, I am changed.

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Sometimes, it feels like we are not remembering as fully as we might those loved ones who have died. It is the nature of life to evolve, one experience after another, changing us as we learn to live with the love from loss.

We cling to our memories. Our reluctance in letting go is as physical as it is emotional. It is a mind and body hold. Our cells store the emotion of a memory, often as pain. In letting go of the emotion, we release pain. The cell is changed.

Our body and mind are what we eat and how we meet each moment we live. In letting go, it is not that we love less but that we love completely.

My recent blog posts have been awash in memory. One post was about finding anger long forgotten; the other remembered the Zen master who taught me acceptance. That the anger has been denied longer than acceptance learned does not surprise me.

Both posts lead me to this one as this week marks one year that my beloved friend died of endometrial cancer. Our friendship spanned more than half a century. We grew up in the Rocky Mountains and eventually we both moved east, she to the north and I to the south.

I still think of her as frequently as I did when she was alive. Often, I have to remind myself there are no more conversations for us. I search my memory for the conversations we did have. They are a comfort and sometimes, I learn something new.

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I was not able to be at the celebration of her life service but her partner sent me a DVD of images and music that completely captures her life. I have lost count of the number of times I have watched it, especially in the early months.

Always, I stop the DVD at one particular image. It is a long quotation, in her handwriting, regarding friendship. It is the opening and ending sentences that stay with me. It opens as:

Never cast aside your friends if by any possibility you can retain them. We are the weakest of spendthrifts if we let one friend drop off through inattention, or let one push away another, or if we hold aloof from one for petty jealousy, or heedless slights or roughness….

This was not how she talked but it is how she lived. It took me a while to locate a source for the quote. The words have changed a bit over the centuries—language evolves with us–but the meaning is unchanged.

We accept our shortcomings and our strengths, knowing that sometimes one becomes the other. We lean less on distinctions and more on acceptance.

And while I never knew the quote before Maurya’s death, it is what I have now, a testament of friendship for the life I still have to live, as the closing line of the quote reminds me:

It is easy to lose a friend but a new one will not come for the calling nor make up for the old one.

(Mother’s Magazine)

I do not know that she ever lost a friend. And yes, the diversity of her friendships is a rich legacy. I am changed by her death but more so by the way she lived. I hold close this testament of friendship for the years left to me, for the life I have yet to know.

We meet today.
We will meet again tomorrow.
We will meet at the source every moment.
We meet each other in all forms of life.

Thich Nhat Hanh

In letting go, I find forever.

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The Light in Our Stars

Single movin' 0614It is the second day of summer in the northern hemisphere, June 22nd, the first day when the amount of sunlight no longer increases for the longest day of 2014, the summer solstice, has passed.   

In what will seem no time at all—just a jumble of days and nights—it will be the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, followed by December 22, the first day the amount of daylight no longer decreases.

The seasons cycle as does all life on the physical plane. Some pass away and others remain longer. It is love that sustains the coming and going of life.   

I made the above notes in my journal while I was at Waverly the afternoon of June 22nd. This is the first summer my dear friend, Maurya, is not here, having died this past winter. It is a lifelong habit, this marking of seasons and remembering love given and received.

It is my way of accepting that all pass away, as will I someday, and remembering that love is beyond time, form, or condition. One need only look to the light in the stars or to the shimmering light of the sun on a pond to see love expressed over and over as life.

And on this June 22nd there was something else occurring, a gathering of cyclists and walkers at 2 p.m. on the Charles River in Massachusetts. The event was Movin’ for Maurya, another celebration of her life and a fundraiser for endometrial cancer research.

Those unable to be in Massachusetts went to places they walked or cycled with Maurya or to places she knew only through pictures or conversation. Wherever we gathered, the memories of Maurya were many and rich in the equanimity and compassion that flowed so gently, so easily from her.

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Each friendship was unique to her, treasured and nurtured. To have known such love in a lifetime is to feel invincible, awash in waves of unconditional love. On many occasions it has nearly brought me to my knees for the sheer wonder of it.

And for me, not surprisingly, it is at Waverly that Maurya seems so near, although she knew Waverly only through the pictures and posts on this blog. But then, Waverly is like stepping out of time and into the endless energy of existence.

We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.
~Thich Nhat Hanh~

The oneness of existence is beyond this body, this I that experiences life on the physical plane, one of seamless sensations, boundless as the breeze upon my face. On this physical plane love announces itself as sight and sound, as touch and taste, a heady aroma this experience of existence.

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It is just after 2 p.m. when the goslings and their parents slip into the waters of Waverly as I look to the northeast and to the Charles River. Endless existence washes over me in waves of gratitude that is no less than the light in the stars.

On some nights, it seems the stars wink in recognition. Perhaps they do for one day I, too, will be among the energy of existence as are those who I loved and who loved me during our shared experience on the physical plane.

Occasionally, I have thought our time together too brief but then I remember that I am not separate but one with existence beyond form, dimension or condition. I look to the light in the stars and sometimes, I wink back.

Facing the Past Tense

Do not stand at my grave and weep,

I am not there; I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow,

I am the diamond glints on snow,

I am the sunlight on ripened grain,

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there; I did not die. (Mary Frye)

Fifty years of friendship feels like only a moment yet it has been a lifetime.  It cannot be over. Not yet. I want Laziness 010514the conversation to continue but mostly, I want the past tense to be the present.

In death, the past tense looms. My mostly Buddhist self believes the past tense is a series of images always available for viewing but never again for experiencing.

I am not used to the past tense. I am not ready to live with my friend as mere memory.

If I think of my friend as dead, there is a hole in the sky that is my heart. I want to tell her how that feels, how that hole is now my world. The telephone that connected us as we aged from teenagers to sexagenarians is no longer in service. It is past tense.

In the last couple years, this blog provided yet another connection for us.  Sometimes, my posts sparked conversations, and other times, our conversations created posts. On this blog, my friend is eternally present.

Discussion was our way for five decades, not a daily occurrence or even monthly, but whenever there was a hole in the sky for either one of us we seemed to sense it. There would be a phone call or an email when least expected and most needed.

My friend was not one who labeled but one who listened. Her innate compassion and loving-kindness opened her to the world wherever she was. And the world responded to her light.

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Along the wend and way of our lives, we each explored Buddhism and over the decades offered our experiences to one another. In these last three years when illness once again marked my life and then for the first time hers, we found ourselves less concerned with outcome and more with exploring the energy of raw emotion.

We were less interested in questions so we had little use for any answer that might appear for we recognized all outcome as temporary. It kept us curious, this being in the moment. We explored eternity as a web without a weaver, its vibrations animating humans, blades of grass–lifetime after lifetime–perfect in its impermanence, forever coming and going.

She is gone in a way I knew and exists in a way I am yet to know.  She is in every breeze, blossom, and glint of light in a night sky. She is. The past tense is no more.

My thanks to Diana J. Hale for her recent post, In Memoriam, as it led me to Mary Frye’s poem, which I could not seem to locate.  Also, thanks to all of you who have sent personal messages. I will respond to each one.

And Then Death Returned

Cooper Birthday 12; KMHuberImageAs I write this final post about Cooper James, there are more tears of joy than of loss for he and I did a pretty fine job of making the most of the time we had, which really was not that long but to be honest, it would never have been long enough for me. Yet, the fact that we were together is what comforts. Gratitude always sustains.

Cooper died on New Year’s Eve, and I have not been able to write this post until now for with his passing, a chapter ends but also, a chapter begins. Right now, I’m straddling the pages but as the days pass, the new chapter will begin to write itself. It always does.

Publishing a final post to sum up Cooper’s life just didn’t seem to suit. I seemed to recognize that early on so I began publishing occasional posts about our life together. I wanted to capture as many moments as I could, for Cooper was truly curious about his world. All dogs are completely present all the time but Cooper’s curiosity seemed to enrich his experience on the physical plane.

Cooper was not a dog that everyone loved nor did people see him as a perfect kind of dog. He was handsome, and he knew it, and he was a charmer, albeit a quirky one. Originally named Snoop, he lived up to his name. In Day of Freedom, I relay how he and his cat friend, EmmaRose, came to live with me. Then, I did not know that freedom resides in every moment, if only we are aware.

In Trailblazing, I wrote of Cooper’s intervertebral disc disease and further explained the consequences of a lifelong love of Cooper, EmmaRose; KMHuberImagesnooping:  Cooper has enjoyed reasonably good health, other than taking a daily Pepcid for most of this last year. Essentially, Cooper views the world in terms of how edible it is, often deciding to take a chance. This lifelong habit seems to have caught up with him. Cooper never missed taking a chance, and I began to understand how limiting hesitation is.

Shedding, which proved to be my most popular post for 2012, recounts our first visit to Waverly park. Spring was just starting. Everywhere, everything is coming to life as Cooper snores….There is a lifetime in this moment, as always.

In What Abundance Knows, Cooper, EmmaRose, and I, once separate, were now together enjoying abundance. How we lived before does not define us nor does it measure who we are.

KMHuberImage; Cooper JamesThe first sign of real decline was apparent In the Moment: Even with disk disease and deteriorating joints, Cooper strives for the handsome gait that has all but left him. In seeing his ramp with his car for the first time, he took that in stride as well—allowing me to guide him in—bearing the grace of the being he is. Once in the car, I buckled us into our seats. With hand and paw on the gear shift, we moved into yet another moment.

By summer, we were celebrating Waverly Mornings as an idyllic frame for every day’s possibilities. I am grateful to Cooper for these Waverly mornings for it is his heart that holds us fast to our ritual. He has taught me the forever joy of “bye-bye in the car.” It is a lifetime gift, of course. Already there are times that we must settle for the memory of Waverly but for every day we are able, we have a Waverly morning. 

However, as the winter solstice approached, Waverly in Winter was one of our last visits: I watch him more than he realizes. KMHuberimage; larch in autumnEvery time, I am glad that we are at Waverly on this day and that he is engaging with every scent he can find and even in winter, there are many. I do my best to stay as present as Cooper for far too easily my mind wanders to spring and whether or not Cooper will be with me at Waverly, gazebo or no. On the afternoon of the winter solstice, he had his first seizure.

The day that As Death Brushed By posted was Cooper’s last full day on the physical plane. What a visit we had at Waverly that day. The humidity was non-existent, and Cooper walked the circle that is Waverly pond. For the last time, he made his stiff, little legs trot just a bit in celebration of the day dawning. That evening, he suffered another seizure more severe than the first.

Once again, I watched over him through the night, and in the morning, he went for his last “bye-bye in the car,” a 2.5 hour ride, his last trip to Gainesville where he would cross the Rainbow Bridge. I thanked Cooper James for all that he gave me as he drifted into sleep, his last, and for me, the last time I would watch over him.

Regular blog posts will resume January 10, 2013.

As Death Brushed By

Waverly Bridge; KMHuberImage
It does no good to make an appointment with death for death has its own schedule. In other words, death knows its moments. That said, death may give us a glimpse if we are observant and completely present.

Cooper James; KMHuberImageOn the afternoon of the winter solstice, Cooper James was jolted from his sleep by a spasm/seizure so severe and so long in duration, I thought death had stopped for him completely. Not so. Cooper was more than content to let that moment go and get on to the next.

I could not, however, let it go. With more ease than I care to admit, I abandoned the freedom that is in every moment and tried to secure every moment that remained for Cooper as if I could know when his death would be, as if I could make an appointment for it.

St. Mark's Refuge; Gulf of Mexico; KMHuberImage
I wanted to be ready but by looking to the future, I was missing what was occurring: Cooper was approaching his life as he always had, a little slower, perhaps, but with just as much interest. In fact, he took advantage of my rather dazed nature by sticking his nose into the cat box, something he hasn’t done since…well, I can’t remember when.

My head stayed stuck in the future, creating and re-creating it, as I cleaned up the cat gravel without giving it any attention. Of course, Cooper seized every moment in which I was not present and that included scoring extra portions of chicken and rice.

Cooper steadily improved but my head remained in the future because of what had occurred in the past. My head was trying to decide what was best for him while my heart went unheeded, as if it did not beat.Rose of Waverly Park; KMHuberImage

By Christmas Eve, my head was so restless there was no chance for sleep so I watched Cooper sleep and listened to an NPR broadcast of A Christmas Carol. His seizure/spasm had altered our lives but Cooper stayed present–it is all he knows—while I was stuck in the moment that death brushed by. Disregarding the present, I anticipated the future when death would make a complete stop.

As Christmas Eve turned into Christmas morning, I did not hear sleigh bells or angels singing on high but I did receive a gift. As my heart tucked my head under itself, the joy of being filled me with gratitude for what is.

I realized that my best is always in being completely present. That is what assures a future and heals a past. I have written about being present in so many blog posts but it seems I required a winter solstice event and a Christmas Eve carol to experience it completely.

St. Mark's Refuge; egret; KMHuberImage
The moment is always free, neither attached to the past nor future. What we are in each moment will frame our past and color our future. If we will tuck our heads under our hearts, we will not get caught within the ego web of our thoughts.

In keeping an open heart, we know joy, love, gratitude and compassion, the emotions the ego cannot know. This I wish for each and every one of you for every moment you have.

Blog Format Change

Beginning Thursday, January 3, 2013, I will begin publishing a weekly Thursday Tidbits post in addition to my regular Sunday posts. True to the definition of tidbit, these posts will be some choice bits of information that I find curious and think may interest you.

Often, I come across information that does not warrant or merit a full blog post but is worth sharing with my readers. Obviously, I am quite enamored of the idea of all of us connecting with one another—oneness meets technology—so my thinking is that Thursday Tidbits will provide us another avenue to do just that.

Other times, I discover blog posts that I would like to share but re-blogging has its issues so I’ve decided I would rather direct people to those blogs and blog posts. Thus, I will provide some introductory information and possible background information regarding the post and then you can decide whether or not to click on the link.KMHuberImage; writing

I may also include some videos and at times, these Thursday posts may be a forerunner for the Sunday posts. At times, I may ask for your thoughts on a subject before I write a blog post. Clearly, the Thursday Tidbits format is fluid.

This week, I am celebrating my one year anniversary of blogging. I have thoroughly enjoyed this past year. Obviously, that has a great deal to do with you, my readers, who have been so constant. I thank you and look forward to another year together.