Life has always been rambunctious though the ability to throw a saddle and bridle on it is an attribute I am proud of.
Last year was different.
End of year diagnostics were required due to a year and a half of symptoms that initially appeared to be “getting older” led to the discovery of chronic disorders that will require life-long management. Given my own and my family health history, to me, the end results were somewhat of a relief as opposed to the “could-have-beens.” These diagnoses finalized the 2020 chapter in my life and solidified that 2021 would be a point from which to start over with regard to many life-occurrences of the past several years.
One of the toughest of these occurrences came early in 2020 when, after a long and hard-fought battle, my sister Phyllis left to start over and try on new sets of wings.
Phyllis wasn’t perfect in the way that none of us are. Though she woke up every day full of life and looking for an adventure – didn’t matter how simple her discoveries of that day were. She termed each day a gift, went to bed exhausted and excited to start over the next day.
One of her specialties was always putting others first and was no doubt the most genuine person I ever knew with this particular trait. Phyllis was never consumed with “reciprocity motive” even in the smallest way – her joy was pure and simple in the giving.
Phyllis was never, ever still. She would have grown wings and flown everywhere if she could have – allowing her to experience even more. Her curiosity and the joy she expressed at new things that could be commonplace to others was expressed in a childlike wonder – from a sunset to a pretty flower pot to the way sunlight hit a crystal and threw prisms.
It was difficult to see such a person as she was so finally and completely physically stilled for many of the last years of her life.
Though she persevered. Her strength and fortitude – along with faith in the hope for a better day each “next day” carried her through.
She lived life in this manner until the moment she could no longer do battle with the ravages of her wrecked Earth vehicle. Her soul saw a new path, grew wings, took flight and never, ever looked back.
Three days after holding her hand during her transition I was back at the Farm. I got ready to take a picture to send to her as I did each morning I was there. I put my phone back in my pocket and stood still, idly watching the dogs.
Throughout the final years when Phyllis’s life became very limited my husband and I sent her pictures of regular “life-stuff” with little one or two-liners nearly every day.
She enjoyed this – it gave her a sense of connection to our lives “out here.” In that moment I understood how much it gave me a sense of connection to her as well. Time rolled through me on a wave.
The dogs ran by, sniffing, buzzing sheep and prancing, all except for Liam, who locked my eyes to his.
“Liam,” I sighed to him, kneeling down to kiss his broad head as he came to me. “Here you are my handsome friend – here to save me once again.”
I buried my face in his fur and breathed in his scent. His strong presence caught my plummeting dive that felt like an icicle crashing into the frozen ground to become splinters of what it was and then – nothing.
“She flew home and she is safe – she will show you,” Liam let me know, softly snuffling my ear before looking for his treats.
Nine months later Liam also left for home.
Liam was not my dog. He was a soul that came into my life with a purpose. I have experienced many types of departures in my life though Liam’s departure is one of the most difficult. Our relationship is an ancient one.
Liam taught Boo so much about being a dog – things I could never teach her – and only a dog such as he could. Boo’s previously torn, jagged little heart she gave wholly and completely to Liam to heal. He taught her to shine and mostly – to trust.
Clinically it is said that dogs cannot understand love for one another and to believe they do is “humanizing” them. I know this was more – way more – than “human.” Liam and Boo loved one another.
When he left – I guess because the way dogs know what they know and they are so much better at all of this than us – Boo was not as severed as me. In some ways I am jealous though it always sparks joy in my soul to see her so much more – free – than she was before Liam came into her life.
Liam taught me many things as well. He gave me confidence, making me work for his respect, throwing a Coyote Red Dog simple-twist-of-fate into whatever the lesson-game of the moment was. He brought me back to a place – an old and innocent place – I had traveled so very far away from.
With Boo, Liam left a piece of himself in her soul – a shiny penny for her to hold to help continue to heal her. As for me – Liam took a piece of my soul with him in the shape of a tiny four-leafed clover.
I like to think when we meet in another walkabout he will place it right where it fits in the new heart I am carrying – starting over.
Starting Over lyrics: Christopher Stapleton / Michael Henderson