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23 years ago, in therapy with a truly miraculous psychologist and holistic healer, Joan Lieberman, I asked how to keep my footing on a road mined with unexpected depressions. She used the symbol of series of single hills, each followed by a steep, seemingly treacherous valley. We stand on the hill and look straight out, not anticipating the space about to swallow us as we drop. Then after we regain composure, we find ourselves planted in the valley, looking straight out at another seemingly impenetrable mass of hill and we begin, like mountain goats, another arduous climb. Sometimes I feel such a physical heaviness that I can't lift my eyes to see even a sliver of sky.

I remember asking her, Will it end?

No, she said. But as we move forward, the difference between peak and valley feels less drastic.

I hereby create a new word: drasticity. The drasticity of our lives lessens even as our circumstances assume new complications.

What a series of begets is our contract to live! Love begets loss, loss begets grief, grief begets healing, healing begets renewal, renewal begets hope, hope begets love, love begets loss, loss begets healing..... and if we want to live a meangingful life, we must agree to meet these challenges.

So I am not surprised when depression clutches me during or after a loss. Last year it was my friend Sandy's death from cancer at age 57. She and I met through our Irish Water Spaniels and cultured a seven year friendship which I never anticipated would be so abbreviated. This year it is my impending divorce. The papers have been filed yet my husband continues to live with me as if no detours menace his Trip Tik. I have accumulated enough grief for the both of us.

Sensing the household energy shift, the dogs have grown clingy in their support, the two Irishers now grabby in my alone time, petting me, claiming me with rested heads and wrapping their "arms" around me more than usual. A few weeks ago they held a midnight let's comfort-Mommy contest, catching my face in the middle of their match, and I emerged with a bloody lip courtesy of Ingrid's speedy tooth. (Ingrid always wins contests, by the way. It's the Law.) Many nights Luinigh desperately grips my husband, literally trying to sleep on top of him, his tail wagging a percussive expression of midnight joy that he's still there. Frankie, the Crested Puff rescue, has suddenly become housebroken. Baby, the macaw, literally asks for more cheek-to-cheek cuddles.Animal sensitivity to human emotion is common experience.

But more than this, the manifestation of animals in our lives, however we come to life with them, is a pre-ordained, Divine gift. I hear from so many of my clients that their animals pulled them through a divorce, a death, a trauma they would not have otherwise survived. Animals willingly come to us in this life with a purpose, much the same way we agree to incarnate to learn significant lessons. I named my last Schnauzer Grazia (Gracie) to honor her healing presence in my life. Every time I called her name it was a reminder to be grateful.I could not endure this current sadness without the love of my animal companions, who are most certainly spiritual visitors, familiars, making tangible the ethereal.

This blog has no satisfactory conclusion. It's just going to continue, to be, like me, navigating the dips in the earthly landscape, dogs in tow.


Anonymous said…
Hello, My wife said a word today that made me laugh so hard. She said drasticity. I told her it wasn't a word, and she said of course it is, they put "LOL" into the webster dictionary so why not "Drasticity". I laughed so hard I about cried. So I said, you know what, I am going to ask "God" (AKA - Google) if this is a word. And so, I found your posting of the word. I think you both should submit this word to Webster as you both have used it in a sentence. LOL. I just found it funny. Thanks for the laugh.
Lisa Shaw said…
I love your comment, and tell your wife I love her, too!

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