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"If He's Not Worried, Neither Am I"

I hate to admit that despite years of academic and metaphysical training in loss and healing, endings and beginnings, farewells and soon-to-be farewells, I still haven't learned to curb my tears in the face of someone else's sorrow. My degree of empathy exceeds usual boundaries, at least in a visual sense, although enough years of therapy have taught me not to internalize someone else's tsuris. The problem? I cry too readily, involuntarily, as I work with animals and people in sobering situations. I understand that the flowing tears during a communication session are a body/mind recognition that I have settled into in an elevated spiritual space, a poignant other-than-this-world reality. Once I asked my therapist why, whenever I entered a deep state of meditation, I began crying. She explained it as recognizing God, an emotional homecoming. I accepted this then and am used to it now, 20 years later.
But all emotional triggers make me cry. I drive around the Brooklyn of my childhood and see the ghost of my grandmother and cry. I study a photo of my father when he was 32 and healthy and cry. I give my deaf and fragile 14 year old schnauzer a bath in the kitchen sink, and looking down at her, see our 14 years together blurred by my tears. So I was not surprised that upon hearing of my friend's cancer diagnosis (a particularly sticky form of cancer), I reacted with tears. Of course I see the irony in this. I'm the one called upon as a professional to help others through crises, and my intial reaction to anything critical is weepy.
S. is one of my favorite people, a "dog-world" friend whose social and spiritual generosity has gifted me with great joy. I don't say that about many people. We met online through our interest in Irish Water Spaniels, corresponded, and met at a dog show in Charleston,South Carolina after my dog, Seamus had died, leaving me distraught. She suggested I fly up to meet all of the Irish Water Spaniels in the Southeast U.S., particularly her boy Skylyr, with whom I was smitten the first time I saw his photograph. I spent a week before my trip performing distance Reiki on him and sending him telepathic messages so that when I finally met him he would recognize my energy. He was as gifted and spiritual a dog as I imagined, showing me precisely how he wanted me to approach communication with him -- by holding his paw in my left hand. Only when I took the paw he extended would he open up to me. Over the next six years, I've had the opportunity to "read" him in Atlanta, Huntsville, Greenville, and Minneapolis, and although I see him only once a year, each time we sit in silence, he gently places his paw in my left hand and begins revealing himself. When my friend's mother-in-law suffered a stroke and came to live with her, Skylyr assumed the role of spiritual companion, sitting alongside her, his paw in her lap much of the time, knowing she needed company, resassurance, that presence we regard as the most potent healing tool. What a guru he is.
His "mom," my friend, kept her diagnosis quiet for the first couple of months. She underwent surgery, then chemotherapy and radiation, some of it more damaging than had been anticipated, resulting in complications, additional hospitalizations, and alternative therapies . She's been almost hiding out during her recuperation and has, I assumed, been confronting the psychological goons that terrorize people battling cancer. She rarely answers her phone, preferring to send an occasional e-mail assuring a small loop of us that she's improving. Some of us leave phone messages. Some send her weekly cards. I send periodic e-mails and leave shaky voice mails that say "Hope you are well, I love you," then get all choked up and hang up.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote and simply asked, "How is Skylyr handling your illness?"
She responded, saying he doesn't seem to care at all.
"And if he's not worried, neither am I," she wrote.
So I've stopped crying for now.


Deborah said…
Skylyr is wise and his "mom" is a strong lady going through tough times. I hope she knows how much she is missed and worried about as she is going through her tough times. It's hard to respect the need for space in healing when you feel the need to do something.

Thank you Lisa for sharing your thoughts and feelings.
Thank you for this wonderful post, Lisa.

I keep learning so much from you..

Lisa Shaw said…
Deborah, you captured it precisely: feeling helpless by not doing anything makes it so hard to sit back and watch. And yes, that Skylyr is excpetional. Thanks for commenting.

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