Because we are all human, sometimes we get stuck in our pain.
About a year ago my dog Belle died.
Just the week before I remember thinking, “I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy in my entire life.”
Then one Monday afternoon we were out in my garden beside the zinnias and Belle walked off the four foot high wall, falling onto the concrete below without so much as a whimper.
She was just afar away from me that there was nothing I could do.
I screamed and ran down to her, hugging her, trying to comfort her.
That night a friend drove us to the vet.
Blind, the diagnosis was.
The vet shined a light into Belle’s eyes and she did not react.
My brother, an ophthalmologist, had examined Belle’s eyes just a few weeks before and he diagnosed the problem.
“She has a brain tumor,” my brother told me. “There’s nothing you can do. You need to put her down.”
It was true that Belle had been falling down the stairs of late, all the way down the wooden steps from top floor to the second floor, to the point that I had been making a habit of carrying my dog around in my arms to keep her from hurting herself.
In fact I had been carrying Belle around so much that my arms had a small habitual ache.
I prayed for guidance and indeed what my brother said was true.
That night I held Belle close, petting her, comforting her, holding her sweet soft body as if I was trying to imprint her very being into every cell of my own.
The next morning Belle remained silent as we drove to the vet for the last time.
I held her in my arms one last time as she received the final injection.
It was me who was sobbing, not Belle.
The vet techs came and wrapped little Belle’s suddenly lifeless body in a black blanket, handing me her leash and harness as I sat there completely bereft.
The rest of the day I could hardly eat.
My head throbbed.
I scheduled a visit for craniosacral therapy and then lay on the floor of the yoga room in my house afterwards weeping, inert.
There was nothing anyone could say or do to make me feel better.
A few days later, I was driving my Prius down the road near my house when I suddenly veered to the right and got my wheels stuck in a ditch.
A single car accident.
I can’t remember the last time I had a car wreck, and this one cost me over $700.
“This week was like winning the lottery in reverse,” I told my family.
About a week later I was helping my brother carry a heavy cooler when I accidentally kicked myself.
My left big toe started bleeding uncontrollably as the toenail cracked off.
“Done!” I pronounced silently to myself.
All week people had been helpfully pointing out to me that bad luck runs in threes.
Holding on to my left big toe, I felt a small sense of relief knowing that the string of unfortunate events had now come to this ignominious end.
All week, my sisters in law had been recommending that I eat more food.
I would go off into my bedroom to cry for hours.
All I could do was live through the process, not really knowing how I could ever let go of the grief.
At times like this, it is normal and natural that we want relief, usually as soon as humanly possible, even if there doesn’t seem to be any way out.
I am always saying that the quickest way through the mud is through the mud – not over the mud, around the mud, pretending the mud doesn’t exist, ignoring the mud or wishing the mud was not in fact right there smack in front.
All we can do sometimes is practice compassion for our own humanity, holding ourselves gently in mind as the most precious soul that we are, giving ourselves a pass and not expecting really anything.
As sure as the rain eventually comes, so does the sunshine, if only we sit with ourselves long enough to allow the dark clouds to pass.