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.

Freedom in the Unknown

For a while I have been residing with two, well-worn nemeses, the past and the future.  I am deliberate in my use of the terms future and past rather than a specific moment, incident, or person for what keeps the past and future ever present is what Deepak Chopra calls “the conditioned response” or the known.

Each one of us has a myriad of conditioned responses for every situation that arises. Regardless of whether or not there is a replica of a particular situation, the mind enthusiastically emits a thought barrage of past experience and future possibility. Both future and past are attached to what happened or what might happen but not to the moment that is. Living in the moment is the unknown, free from past or future.

Essentially, every moment is free. We choose between the known and the unknown, between what we have always been and what we have never been. It is that basic. What is not free is the situation surrounding each and every moment.

Situations reside in the past or in the future–they have strings–and where there is attachment, there is ego, a constant chatter of what you already know. Only when we practice what Chopra calls “choice less awareness” (Moksha), are we in the unknown of the moment and truly free. It takes a lifetime of practice and ceaseless awareness.

For without awareness, we get comfortable and our practice becomes what we know and not what is. Increasingly, my enthusiasm was on the wane, whether for the revision of my novel or for my nonfiction manuscript on consciousness. While I love what I am doing, I could not deny a familiar tug of weariness. Briefly, even the malaise of lupus loomed as I turned more and more to the known of the past.

Mindless television is a tried-and-true response of mine to whenever “the world is too much with us” (William Wordsworth). Some would argue that I could not have picked a better time than the broadcasting of the two major political conventions in the United States. There may be something to that. For completely opposite reasons, both conventions made me weep but as I reached my saturation point for both weeping and politics, I discovered my enthusiasm for republic and democracy.  Both are messy, completely life-like, wherein lies the sliver that is hope.

No matter the moment of life, hope is always the light of the unknown and may be the heart of risk as well. In hope lies enthusiasm, the total immersion into life, “the ripple that follows the stone…[as] we are each faced with the endless and repeatable task of discovering or uncovering our enthusiasm, which means in essence being at one with the energy of God or the divine” (Mark Nepo). Not surprisingly, God and the divine are within the political whirlwind of the United States while the world watches.

Regardless of how we perceive our relationship to one another–Einstein’s “spooky action at a distance,” the Tao, the Universe, the Source or quantum physics–we are all connected to consciousness, which is so much more than a mere pinprick of light. Consciousness connects us to existence, transcending all we have ever known; it moves our heads under our hearts so we may hear one another. When we listen, we observe. We make a response within the moment.

In observing the political conventions I listened, dropping my decades-long conditioned response of ranting and raving. Rather, I was grateful for living in a republic brave enough to reveal the messiness of its democracy to the world, at considerable risk perhaps.  I immersed myself into the enthusiasm that is the noise of life, the unpredictable but eternal moment.

It is such a small step from the known to the unknown. In the unknown resides the “choice less” awareness that is the freedom inherent in risk, the heartbeat of hope. It is neither the past nor the future but only the moment, which is all we ever have yet is always more than enough as long as we are aware. “Despite our endless limitations, it seems that the qualities of attention, risk, and compassion allow us to be at one with the energy of the whole and the result is enthusiasm, that deep sensation of oneness” (Nepo).

(All Mark Nepo citations appear in The Book of Awakening)