Bittersweet Aging

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It’s been almost 3 years since my beloved boy passed on and life has not been easy for my pack and I.  We have had serious life threatening health issues , some that are chronic.  I have spent thousands upon thousands of dollars.  I have stayed up many many nights with worry. I have cried so many tears that there was no more to cry, yet amidst all the heartache and worry- my dogs continue to point me toward  life’s deepest revelations.

Lucille is in a wheel chair now.  She cannot walk really without it.  She has degenerative disc disease and her neurological function is diminishing.  She is also fully incontinent.  I have to clean her up to 20 times a day.  She also wears diapers.  I move her from one bed to the other. She takes 10 pills a day and I ice her aching muscles and give her deep tissue massage daily. I wake up 2-3 times a night to check on her.  Yet- you would not know she is so fragile.  She still rules the home.  She still keeps the others in line.  She still demands her meals on time, her walks on time and even her belly rubs on time.  Physicality does not determine spirit.  Physical strength does not determine might and will to live.

Madeline, my ever incorrigible and stubborn old Pitty girl has been at death’s door 4 times in the last 1.5 years.   Hit and stuck under a car in July 2012 and  2 surgeries followed to fix the broken femur bone.  After her second surgery- she came down with aspirate pneumonia which had to be quickly treated so the infection would not spread to her healing bone.   Then in Nov. 2012- she stopped eating for 14 days.. Many many tests later revealed she has Inflammatory Bowel Disease.  A few months after we got that disease under control , her mast cell cancer came back and it was a higher grade and in the lymph node.  I opted for surgery and chemotherapy.  Before we could start the chemo- she collapsed and I rushed her to the hospital-  she was going into DIC- what vets nickname ” Death is coming”- her platelets were not clotting- basically she was going to bleed to death.  3 days later- she was out of the hospital and chemotherapy began.  In August 2013-  she stopped eating and had massive bowel and stomach issues.  She was hospitalized for 3 days because bones were found in her intestine and stomach and there was a high risk of perforation which would mean death.  My girl survived this and here we are today-  9 months of chemotherapy and her cancer is in remission . She takes 16 pills a day which I have to shove down her throat because there is no amount of hiding them in food that she will not realize and then spit them all out.  That is what I love about her- her willfulness to have it her way. Her IBD is in remission and she continues to amaze me.  She continues to be so stubborn . She continues to do things her own damn way.  She continues to have this persistent spirit that knows what she wants and finds any way to achieve her mission. She also has this quiet tenderness that only a few know.  She appears aloof to many but when you are in her inside circle of people to trust- she will look at you right in the eyes-  like a human – and just stare – as though she has such important things to share with you and desperately wants you to understand her, beyond the limited verbal language we  have.

Both these girls have shown me that I am stronger than I thought.  I thought I would fall apart so many times in anguish and worry yet the power of Love pulled me up and onward. They have revealed my nature- which is everyone’s true nature- Unconditional Abiding Love.  This Love is constant through sickness, weakness, vulnerability and aging.   Love is devotion amidst hardship. Love does not leave when things get hard. Love sees fragility and wants to  honor and protect it.  Love sees the strength in all beings, not matter how old, feeble or unsteady they are.  I may not be married but I certainly have come to know what ” In sickness and in health ” really means.

I readily admit there are days of great frustration and overwhelm.  I see myself as a mom for 4 special needs children and  there are many days I am pushed too thin.  I have cursed at my dogs for their stubbornness , their willfulness and even their neediness but in the very next moment- I forgive myself and recognize I am  just tired. Love never left us in these hard moments, it just waited for me to recharge and love myself too through it all.   That is another thing- these years of tending to my old girls has done for me-  I love myself more. I accept myself more. I recognize my gifts through their eyes. I see my mothering and so appreciate this aspect of me.

One day, my girls will leave me to journey on . Those will be such sad sad  days. Letting go of my beloveds  is the hardest thing I have ever done.  But when I look back on these later years- I will see clearly that my devotion to their care made me a kinder more patient human being.  What a gift , what a gift.  Thank you my Madeline, Thank you My Lucille.


A Good Friend of Benjamin’s passed on today

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Bean was one of my original foster girls.  I rescued her 10 years ago and she came right home and Benjamin became her number one support.  He showed her the way and helped calm and guide  her newly reborn spirit.  Wherever he laid down, she would immediately go lay right next to him.

Bean stayed with us for 7 months and I questioned if I could let her go.  She became part of my pack .  She was a little piggy –  stout, comical, and full of love.

Then one day, we met the Benson family in Rockridge. Bean got out of my truck and was chasing a squirrel up and down a quiet street.  Mary Alice walked by and asked who she was.  I told her she was my foster girl….Mary Alice and her wonderful family  ( husband and 2 young girls) had never had a family dog….but within a week or so-Bean went home to become girl #3.  It was MEANT TO BE.  Bean adored her family and oh- how they adored her…She opened up their world, I think.  They had never had any experience with a Pit bull type dog  ( she was a Staffie)- and Bean showed them the magical unconditional love and devotion this breed is known for.

I walked Bean for years in my pack walks.  She was always so happy to see her best friend,Benjamin.  She would see my truck coming from her front door and she would know her time was here- to be reunited with her pack friends and to go on  many wonderful adventures.

My beloved Benjamin passed away one year ago ,yesterday- March 11, 2011.  Bean left this earth March 12, 2012…the timing speaks volumes to me-  she was ready to join her best friend,Benjamin and this time beckoned her to him and back to God.

The Benson Family and I are mourning greatly tonight.  Death changes us in ways we can never know until it happens directly to us.  The heartbreak of  separation to those we cherish the most can send us into a deeper awareness of God and the Mysteries of Life.

Bean and Benjamin taught those closest to them- that God shows up in many forms- and a Dogs Love can exemplify Heaven on Earth. I choose to believe with all my heart that We will see our Beloveds again and never be parted from this Pure Love.

Until We Meet Again, Bean and Benjamin- watch over us.  We love you always.  Kathy and The Benson Family


A Rare Love

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My grandparents died many many years ago. My childhood dog, Shep died when I was 16. My first dog as an adult- Coda, my beloved lab Pit mix, died when I was 32.  All of these deaths hurt and I grieved hard…and then Benjamin came into my life and my heart became a devotional mechanism that knew no bounds to the depth of love I experienced for him.

This kind of Love, I believe, is a rare occurence.  Some people never experience it and that is tragic.  I don’t need to ever have it again- with a human or animal- the gifts it gave me are forever imprinted in my soul.  To be able to have a love that grows deeper and deeper with each moment is magical. To be able to look into his eyes and see the eyes of God – where Time stands still-put me in touch with the God in me.  I could look into his face for hours and find new things to marvel at.  We were in love.  Does that sound weird?  In love to me does not mean a romantic temporary feeling. In Love means being touched so deeply by someone that your Highest Self is revealed through the connection.  Benjamin made me a better woman. Benjamin revealed my Wholeness when I doubted my worth.  Benjamin reminded daily that All is Well when Love is the guiding force.

2011 is coming and going.  2011 I lost my soul mate.  2011- Benjamin returned to that from which he came from- the Loving Source of all Beings. There are no words big enough to express my deepest gratitude to him for showing me with such grace- that Unconditional Abiding Love is my birthright…and this is so for every living being. 

Benjamin sends a sign

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I go weekly, at least twice a week- to my boy’s memorial site- his favorite secret trail by the marina. I made a very special place- a meditation site of sorts- all from the earth. A huge rock patio, driftwood benches and trees and flowering bushes planted around. His picture hangs off the peach tree there. It is the “little tree that could”- it is thriving in a harsh environment- no doubt because of the presence of my boy there…and the love I bring and the love others bring by sitting and joining in this sacred space.  It has been very healing for me to build this place. The physical work is like my meditation and it brings me closer to him than anything has since he passed 10 months ago.  I still miss him daily , I still cry when I look at his pictures..but I am able to cry and feel joy at the same time now. This is the grief process.


I worked this weekend there – digging and planting flowering bushes . It was hard but rewarding work!   All the digging gave me some cuts and bruises-  one remarkable one showed up smack dab in the middle of my right palm- in the perfect shape of a  HEART.  I know without a doubt this is  sign from Benjamin-  saying  ” Mom, I am always with you”.

I wanted to share this picture with all of you because I am deeply touched that Benjamin choose to reveal his presence to me in such a unique way.I still miss him daily , I still cry when I look at his pictures…But the ache and misery is lifting- Life has a way of forcing you to move through the darkest hours…and my boy does not want me to stay in the darkness too long.  He represented Light- the brightest light I have ever met..The Light of God and that Light shines in me now forever.

Our Darkest Hour can be our Greatest Grace

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So, in regard to disagreeable and formidable things, prudence does not consist in evasion or flight, but in courage. He who wishes to walk in the most peaceful parts of life with any serenity must screw himself up to resolution. Let him front the object of his worst apprehension, and his stoutness will commonly make his fear groundless. —Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, United States)

I am not sure I will put this into words quite right but I will try.  When you have been in a time of deep despair- questioning Life- why, why, why?-  this is the time when you may crack and all the Light of Pure Consciousness shines and The Truth of Who you are is revealed.  I don’t mean this to sound like it will happen in some magical perfect moment- with a pot full of gold at the end of your neighborhood rainbow.  It is much more complicated than this.

You ( I) will suffer and question your sanity, or your reason for being on this very difficult path- your intellect will know some deeper learning is happening and try to conceptulize it is a concise phrase..but your soul is the only thing that matters when psychic lessons are concerned.  Your soul may never put it in a neat clean sentence that says ” I learned this…”  but I truly believe- in my darkest hours-  I am closer to God than I have ever been.

( and God looks like Abbey a lot- pure unbridled Bliss!!!!)


My dogs are my children

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I don’t think many people really get this.  yes- I am their leader/master and they are my dogs-  if you want to speak in proper dog behavior verbage- after all I do need them to listen, respect, respond, and defer to me- always.  we live in a human world where human law dictates, not animal law.
But saying that does not adequately express my bond with them.   I know what it is to be a  Mother. I put their needs before mine. I think about them the first moment upon waking and the last before sleeping.   Their pain is my pain, tenfold. Their joy is my joy.  Their fear is something I want to comfort and help extinguish.  I never want them to worry, fear, lose, or be in pain .  I will do everything to protect them.

yet, I cannot protect them from everything- sometimes Life has it’s own way that differs from my needs and wants.  I am truly humbled by my inability to control everything.   I cannot control that dogs live way shorter lives than humans. I cannot control their aging before mine.  This given is something I once again wrestle with as 2 of my dogs are elders.  Lucille has arthritis  and Madeline has had cancer.  How much longer will I be graced with their presence in my life?

So God’s plan for me was to have dogs as my children. I feel very fulfilled within this role.  I know what it means to Mother- to love someone so deeply and selflessly that the Self disappears- and all that remains is Unconditional Love.    But I ache tonight with the realization that the Mother I choose to be- a Mother to dogs, means I will lose all my children before I pass.  How do I endure this?  I am in the midst of the biggest loss I have ever known- my beloved Benjamin…and 3 more will follow at some future point.  Madeline, Lucille and Abbey- my pack of girls who have sustained me through my darkest days.

I need to live in the NOW. Because Now is when they are here, with me, joyfully loving me and this precious life we have.  The future is fear and living in this place brings me nothing but angst.  Live here, Live now- they ask this of me- so that I don’t waste a moment of this blessed relationship in fear.  Stay in the Present, and Stay in Love’s safety.

Signs from my Boy

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I wanted to share a few things that have happened:

last week, as I was driving, I said very loudly  ” I miss you” and RIGHT THEN, I saw a person walking an old Rottie right next to me on the street.    A Rottie is not so common to see. I felt it was my boy’s essence – saying ” I am right here mom”

last night,  I was walking the girls late- and i looked back and Madeline and Lucille- the slow pokes- and saw a small grey cat very assuredly following about 5 feet behind Madeline.  She followed us with complete determination for about 100 years-  only 3 feet or less behind Madeline.  She was whimsical and a bundle of distinct personality.  The 3 pitties and the kitty.  It was my boy checking in with us on our evening walk.

Today,  a woman was walking 2 small dogs and a ROTTIE  ( another random sighting)  and this cat came out of nowhere-  grey again, but  a different one- and the dogs saw it and pulled the woman down- instead of running, the cat got pissed off and CAME AT the 3 barking dogs and tried to scratch one.  the woman turned and left and the cat followed the dogs with the intention of letting them know she would not tolerate their misbehavior on HER street.   It reminded me of Benjamin once again.  Not even sure how or why…..

Thanks for listening.  Just wanted to share that I believe my boy is reaching out from the great Source to let me know- he is always with me.

Tomorrow will be 6 months since he passed and today, he feels very much alive in spirit and perhaps in the temporary essence of a grey kitty.

Pit bulls make the greatest friends

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I fell in love and my heart is healing

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My boy sent me this girl,Miss Abigal.   I know it, without a doubt-   He and she talked  and agreed that my heart would need Abbey after he left.  I am grieving, there is no hiding this.  I got a massage today and cried.  I drove to one of my boy’s favorite jaunts and cried. I  sat with good friends for lunch and cried in the bathroom.  Then I came home and 3 Pitty girls welcomed me with glee, adoration, joy and unbridled love….and the newest piggy- Abbey did this crazy dance all over me- nuzzling and love bites with a huge grin on her piggy face…

The healing of grief is instantaneous.  I laugh, I wiggle, I let loose with the same joy they bestow on me.

A reason to open my heart again , is healing it.  Rescuing Abbey  is like a strong antibiotic to a wound. .  There is a big space  where my boy left.  Abbey does not fill this space, she opens up another place in my heart. What this shows me- is that the heart can be ever expanding even amidst the deepest loss.

My beloved boy knew this- he sent me girl #3 to wiggle with glee upon my returns- to show me- that Unconditional Love comes when you most need it..

Dogs are such healers and teachers. In their unique animal ways, they pave the way to a greater Awareness of what Love really is.  Love is an Unconditional Yes to Life.  Love is a Yes to Feelings. Love is a Yes to humility. Love is a Yes to not knowing everything. Love is a Yes to Authenticity. Love is a Yes to Pausing and Reflecting. Love is a Yes to making a mistake and getting back up again. Love is Yes to Darkness and Light.


Organic grieving

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I just heard the term yesterday in an sweet book I am reading  ” Saying Good bye to your Angel Animals”.  Organic grieving means giving yourself permission to mourn loss in ways that originate from your essence, your spirit, your unique self. Organic grieving emanates from the core of your being, where the essence of what you honestly feel and believe about life and death resides.”

I  have come to see that my grief process is making a new me. I am no longer the woman I was March 10, 2011, the day before my beloved died.  I don’t quite know who I am and that is just fine.  I am letting grief have all its life within me.  It is not a straight road to “feeling all better”. In fact,  I think there will always be a part of me that feels this loss and I am okay with that too.

I want anyone who is reading this- to know – however you grief is GOOD.  Just do it…Don’t hide or run from it..Don’t care what people around you think , say, or judge about what you are doing in the midst of your loss.  Just be totally you- you deserve the full allowance of your true expression.  This goes for any loss- relationship, animal, parent, job, home….If you worry about what others think of you- then your heart will push aside the grief, and I believe if this happens again and again-  a part of us dies.

So when you are sad, grieving, missing, or longing-  BE ALL OF IT. Let it in and let it out to me. Grieving breaks us wide open, shatters our illusions, and perhaps leaves us with a purity of heart that was waiting to be revealed.

Blessings and Love to you!