The above photo was taken on Friday 3 May 2013. My dog had been diagnosed with terminal cancer four days earlier. My brain was still messed up from the stroke Iâd experienced 14 months earlier. Thinking wasnât something I remembered how to do.
In lieu of a functional brain, I’d begun operating on intuition, not yet understanding that surrendering the idea of thinking my way through problems instead of allowing myself to be guided was the wisest thing I could do.
Thanks to being unable to work because of brain damage, my life savings were rapidly vanishing and no new money was coming in. Thanks to nearly all of my loved ones dying or vanishing two years earlier, my support system was minimal at best. I didn’t know how to fix a diagnosis of terminal cancer. I didn’t know how I would go on without Laila, the only companion who had physically been there for me each day. In that moment, all I knew how to do was cherish her.
Turns out it was all I needed to do.
The enormous tumor had wrapped around her spleen, probably her liver and at least one kidney. It pressed against her lungs, making breathing very difficult. Laila had been panting her way through each night for the past few weeks. She slept next to my bed, so I hadn’t gotten more than a little sleep here and there. I was exhausted from years of caregiving and grieving and shock and trauma, from months of trying to get used to living with a very damaged brain, and from days of not being able to sleep more than a few minutes at a time.
The photographer faithfully documented our journey as we walked through the state park. When I had no more energy, Laila lay on the ground. I sat beside her and instinctively rested my head on the back of her neck. I closed my eyes and inhaled her familiar Laila smell. It felt wonderful. I loved the feel of her soft neck fur on my forehead. I loved experiencing the warmth of the sun on my bare arms. I loved being able to spend that precious moment with my wonderful girl, the dog who’d spent nearly ten years protecting me, regardless of what might happen next. In that uncertain moment, I was blissfully happy. You can’t see any of that, as my face is hidden, but that was my truth.
Why did I completely surrender to the moment? It was too painful to bury myself in memories of all I’d lost, and it was too painful to consider a future alone. All I could do in that moment was love her with every cell of my being. Look at her face. She was in pain, and she was loving me back. She accepted my love and returned it all to me, to strengthen me for what would come next. I couldn’t think after the stroke, but I could love. During the next hours, days, and weeks, we co-created a miracle with the help of thousands. Our vet was unable to find the tumor a month later, and I had two more glorious cancer-free years with her before she passed at age 16 on 2 June 2015. I learned so much through my joyous service of love. The love we shared was the teacher I’d always wanted to find.
This wasn’t the first time I’d completely surrendered to love. When I got the call in late 2006 that my mother had fallen and was in the hospital with a catastrophic head injury, an illogical part of me was excited about what was to come. Don’t get me wrong, I was concerned about her welfare, and I wasn’t at all happy about what had happened to her. I was excited about the chance to learn more about love through my service to her.
The next fifty months were extremely difficult. Like most caregivers, I burned out early and ran on empty for a long time. I knew that her feeling my love made an enormous different in the quality of her life during her final years, and I was delighted to have given her what she needed to the best of my ability to love her after I’d gassed out. And, like Laila, she returned her love to me as best she could. Her love strengthened me. Her love joyously served me, as my love joyously served her. We had a deeply loving connection, so strong that the marketing director at the memory care unit where my mother spent the final months of her life said she’d never seen a bond between a mother and a daughter that compared to ours.
Many of us are experiencing relationship changes. People are leaving us behind, and we are leaving people behind. Doors are closing so that we can bring in relationships which are based upon joyous mutual service in love. For those of us on the path to fully awakening, any relationship that has been built upon using another instead of cherishing another, taking another for granted instead of consistently honoring and loving that person, placing your needs above the other person’s needs or the needs of the relationship itself, will fall away. It has to.
If you’re the one being left behind and you don’t know why that is, you’ve got lots of company. You may be reading these words without understanding what they mean. You may think you’ve been a terrific partner or friend. You may feel abandoned. You may feel confused or angry, sometimes both.
I don’t think people usually leave relationships in which they feel joyously served by another person’s love. I do think people leave relationships when they feel like afterthoughts, when they feel like what they want doesn’t matter, when they feel like they’re being used or manipulated or controlled or otherwise disrespected. I don’t think it’s necessary for both people to grow at the same rate to successfully do a relationship these days. I do think it’s necessary for both people to make joyously serving each other through love the avenue to experience the greatest spiritual growth.
I don’t think it’s about how much you know. I think it’s about how much you joyously serve yourself and another through love.
To those of us on the path to fully awakening, our job is to awaken to our magnificence of spirit, to our glorious humanity, to our highest purpose, to our right relationships. Awakening is a process. Allow yourself to bloom at your own pace, knowing that another’s pace may be more slow or more rapid without judging yourself or them for it.
If you don’t know what that means, Rumi’s words might help. I hope they do. If they don’t help, I hope they get you to think about what they might mean. Whether they do help or they don’t help, I wish you joyous service in love, to expand your heart and to expand the hearts of many others.
What else is there for us to do?
“The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to sleep! You must ask for what you really want. Don’t go back to sleep! People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don’t go back to sleep!”
Perhaps I can help you understand why one or more of your cherished friendships and relationships is ending. Schedule a Book of Life session with me for a different view of the underlying dynamics of your troubled relationships so that you can hopefully find peace around their ending or possibly ideas for reviving them. I invite you to visit https://www.transformingthroughlove.com/ to learn about the various professional services I offer. I’m here for you.