In the third installment of Minjay’s birthday week lessons, I’m attempting to put into words his deep wisdom on change, aging and mortality.
The soul is a thing you can see.
A couple of years ago, when he was around four, we were sitting in our favorite spots on our couches, me curled up on the left arm of our gray two-seater. Minge curled up in his white armchair. I think I was watching television or reading, and he was sleeping. He awoke and looked up, looked at me, and I looked at him. And I was startled because… I recognized him.
That might sound silly. Recognized him? I saw him every day. Most workdays, at the time, I was home all day with him writing. How could I “recognize” someone I was with every day. But the thing is, in that quiet moment, I saw him for the individual he was, with his own character and his own presence, and his own soul. (The souls of animals is something much smarter women and better writers than I, like Dr. Jane Goodall and Sy Montgomery, have explored and tried to describe.) This is one of the harder lessons to put into words, but I’ll keep working on it!
This moment is all that matters – we will (soon) run out.
Not to be morbid, but I think of this every day. And ever since he was three years old, I’ve been very aware of being in the moment, because that was when I first realized he was growing older: He was no longer a little puppy, and there would be a day when I would have to say good bye to him.
Every walk, every cuddle, every morning is precious. And it’s not that I’m worried about losing him (though I certainly am, already), it’s about knowing just how valuable every
moment is, in a way that is all too easy to take for granted in our busy modern lives. But I don’t anymore, thanks to
Things are going to change. We are going to age. That’s OK.
When I first saw signs of Minjay aging, I freaked out—feelings that reached a peak during the horrible surgery he had to endure last year. Once he recovered, and taught me a whole list of lessons on resilience (we’ll leave those for another day), he taught me that it was OK. Though part of
me wanted to reminisce about his puppy endless, boundless energy, and was sad that he had slowed down a bit, there were so many wonderful things that came with that slowing down. We could now sit together in coffee shops, and even though he’d jump up to greet everyone who passed eagerly, he was calm, sure of himself, still and happy to enjoy just sitting outside together. At home on the couch, he started to jump up and snuggle his face into my lap, something he never did as a puppy. There were all these facets of him I was getting to see, facets that only came with his maturing and age, and wonderful new moments and lessons to experience. And as we age together, and grow up together (and he raises both me and my husband to be better humans), our bond grows deeper. And I wouldn’t change that for a thing. Because he’s perfect today, just the way he is. (And, he teaches me, so am I).