When this photo was posted on Taming Me’s Facebook page, I was struck by the ferocity of the following comment, including the capitalization of the imperative: “DON’T MOVE! Stay right where you are!” I thought that Paula Booth, the follower who wrote it, must be a woman who knows the value of being in the moment, especially a moment in which one is cuddled up with loved ones, and perhaps even more so a moment when those loved ones happen to have four legs.
In this world of constant connection and a non-stop barrage of news, opinion and information, chores by the score and a plentitude of places to be and people to see, it can be difficult to stop and savor the moment – whether it’s an active moment or one like this, pinned on the sofa by pets. Lately I have found myself counting the days until something I’m looking forward to – and even as I do so, I know that I am detracting from the day at hand. So I thought that this anniversary of one of the most grievous days in our nation’s recent history might be a good time to remind myself to Sit. Stay. Enjoy. Because who knows how many moments more there will be?
A friend was recently on vacation with her family in one of her favorite places – a house beside the ocean. She sat on the beach, chatted with her sisters, enjoyed dinner with the entire clan, spent the evening teaching her little niece and nephew to play Chinese checkers and promised that they would play again in the morning. It was a promise she didn’t mean to break, but the morning she imagined didn’t come. She was buried, dressed in her cheerful orange cardigan, on her 48th birthday. Julie had danced with cancer and its consequences for 30 years, and during those years, between hospitals, treatments and transplants, she gathered all the joy she could muster from life and spread a bunch of it around to the rest of us.
Dottie – another friend – was, quite frankly, supposed to be dead by now. But she vowed, “I will be the miracle,” and she is. Her passion in life is making homes for kids who don’t have them, kids caught up in a foster care system that doesn’t always have enough foster parents to go around. She’s still busy raising money and building space to offer what is sometimes the most loving environment the kids have ever known. Oh, and she also spends a fair amount of time sending little love notes out to her friends and relatives. Dottie knows how to make the briefest moment meaningful.
And then there’s Karyn. She got a diagnosis last winter that would have put some of us under the table. But not Karyn. You’d go to visit her in the hospital and she’d give you a gift that she bought for you, in the hospital shop. She’d send you jokes via e-mail and text. She’d make funny faces and pose for pictures, sometimes with her room so packed with visitors you couldn’t find a place to sit down. Right now she’s planning a girls’ weekend and already has special bags waiting for each guest, stuffed with goodies. And she’s busy mothering her six dogs, all of them rescues; she created a special dog park at the shelter where she volunteers, for the ones she couldn’t take home. Her household canines get hot cooked meals twice a day and the entire pack is welcome in her bed – even if her husband has to get out of the way. (He’s entirely good-natured about it.)
You know, my intent as I started writing this was to talk mostly about the proven health benefits of pets — lower blood pressure and cholesterol, healthier hearts, quicker recoveries, improved spirits and socialization — and how animal companions can prolong and enrich our moments. But as I remembered the lives lost in the Twin Towers and the many souls worldwide suffering from conflicts, poverty, illness and disasters even as I type this, my fingers just seemed to want to talk about the people who endure, inspire, and continue to bless us even when they’ve passed on, as we all must do. I think I’ve been giving myself a little sermon. Thank you for sticking with me.
And please allow me one final mention of (another) friend. She recently gave me a book on mindful meditations, arranged by month. September’s opening quote is from the Buddha: “Be where you are; otherwise you will miss your life.” Thank you, Buddha. I’ll try harder. Thank you, my friends, for your generous spirits. Thank you, PAULA BOOTH! I think I’ll go round up the critters so that we can Sit. Stay. Enjoy.