In my most recent post, I mentioned my “complex history with India.”
That trip began with a horrifying encounter with impermanence.
It was June 2013 and I had to catch an airport shuttle in an hour. I stealth-packed so the dogs wouldn’t notice. My husband Hugh was working out of town. Grant our teenage Pet Sitter would arrive soon.
I never planned to go to India, but I knew I was supposed to go. Now I doubted the decision; because our dog Stella was sick. There was something wrong with her breathing.
As I packed, she hunched on “her” shabby-chic slipcovered chair. Her chest rose and fell rapidly. Even her dog-brother Bartok knew something was wrong.
Life is impermanence. I know this. But this impermanence was rudely timed.
A perfect excuse to control it, I thought. I begged Google to squeeze out a speck of hope that would allow me to leave.
Google said it could be a simple lung infection. Or it could be cancer.
My mind raced: How could I get on a plane and abandon my best friend?… My church is counting on me to go. I can’t disappoint them…And what if this is nothing? What if I stay home and it’s a minor infection? … But what if it’s something horrible and she dies alone? What kind of a people-pleasing, dog-abandoning whore am I…?
I had to decide.
I kept moving. I got in the shower and cried.
Why did she have to get sick now?
God, what should I do?
I’ll do whatever You want, just tell me, please.
And then I heard, “Breathe. Ask for help.”
I breathed. I stepped out of the shower, got dressed and checked Stella. No change.
Grant, our pet sitter, arrived. I told him about Stella’s condition and together we asked for help. We contacted our friend Becky who promised she would take Stella to the vet as soon as the clinic opened.
Then I had to say good-bye.
I cradled Stella’s butterscotch face in my hands. I lingered as I smelled her earthy scent. I kissed the top of her head and whispered, “Will I ever see you again?”
I thought of all the platitudes I’ve said about impermanence over the years. “Impermanence is the only permanent thing…..Impermanence makes life precious…Impermanence requires you to love deeply as you let go deeply….”
I revised these platitudes to, “Impermanence sucks when it’s happening to you and your dog.” Then I stumbled to my car and drove to the airport shuttle. I abandoned Stella for India….
Reflections: Where do you encounter impermanence? How do you resist or allow it? What guides you in making impossible decisions?