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dogs

mothering PARENTING WRITING

Why I Might Become A Morning Person

I have a new dog.

Every morning around 6am he starts shaking his barrel of a body, whining, and, if neither of those work, licking my face until I get up to take him on a walk.

I am not what you would call a morning person.

Usually I pull on whatever clothes I wore the day before, sliding into my sneakers and stumbling out of the house before my brain has a chance to catch up to my body and say, “No thank you.”

I never regret taking this morning walk, though some days I avoid it anyway, nudging my husband awake. And sometimes my husband wakes before me, returning from the walk before I know he’s gone.

I am not what you would call a morning person. Or even particularly outdoorsy.

But there is something magical about the early morning, before the city is awake. My feet keep moving one in front of the other while my mind uses the drumbeat to sort thoughts. It works while I observe with fuzzy curiosity. Sometimes surprising me with what is unresolved from days, weeks, or years past. Sometimes releasing tears as I remember a friend that I have lost.

I let the tears run. There is no one sitting on their front steps to observe me wipe my eyes.

My dog trots alongside me, leash slack until we turn onto a street that has been previously unexplored. Then he uses his fifty-six pounds of muscle to strain with all his might, desperate to inhale the scents of a single blade of grass that holds the key to this time and space.

My dog is not only a morning person, he’s an all the time person. The world is forever new, forever now. He jumps up with excitement each time I reach for his leash, even though it is a now-familiar dance we play each day, even though my human mind so easily finds it mundane.

I wonder sometimes if this walk is the most important thing I do each day.

If my work is my feet’s prayerful pattering. If my job is to say yes to my own forever new, forever now life. To be filled with gratitude for a single, delicious blade of grass.

It is almost enough to convert me to the morning.

-Rachel

Teaching

Saying Goodbye

rumi wound

My dog died. One day running in and out of the house, albeit somewhat stiffly with his arthritic legs. The next day our house is empty, his collar still laying on the kitchen table where I left it when we came home from the vet.

It’s been a week and I still listen for the jangle of the collar, I still anticipate his body coming alongside me, I still automatically reach for the gate when I leave for the day. I wait for the call from the vet, telling me that he’s ready to be picked up. I rub memories over the open, raw space in my mind, and it still stings each time.

It is the most basic thing. We are born, we live, and we die. And yet I am still a five-year-old, I’m still asking, “Where did he go?” It still feels unfair.

When grief comes, it is a train, running between my ears. When death comes, there is a free fall, with the anticipated crash, and the slow, slow, slow gluing of pieces, never quite the same, even when made whole.

This is not the first time death has knocked. That does not make it easier.

The day after he died, I went to school. My eyes were stinging: swollen and on fire. But with new sight. They saw the kindred. They saw the other, grieving, calling out to them with a compassion new and alive.

The light entered the wound. Because we all share the wounds. We all hold pain, some with neon signs, most buried deep. But the light hits those wounded places and asks us to be healed. And the healing comes in community.

At lunch I told Grace, “What you’re going through must be so difficult.” And what I meant was, “I share your pain, I allow you to feel it with me. I have pain, too.”

Maybe, when we step back away from the reading, the math, the tests, and the lesson plans, maybe that’s the best we can do.

It’s what my dog did, greeting me each day with the unbridled joy of getting to be together once more. Licking my hand on days that were hard, knowing without words how to be the best friend, how to give the best gifts. It was all he had to give, and it was enough.

261755_10150290602379874_2436766_n-Rachel

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