Some of you know I had to say goodbye to Lucy the Wonderdog and Ringo the Labradorganizer last week. I had planned to rework a post in their memory – one I did a while back about how they taught me time management lessons (maybe that one will come later). I also wanted to pull in some new learning from the Annual International Conference on ADHD I just attended. But then…this thing happened that I felt compelled to start writing about, and I realized, nope, this is the post for this week. While it’s not about life order, at least not in a granular sense, it IS about something that touches every client with whom I work.
I’m trying to remember what night it was I looked back from the couch and saw Ringo curled up by the back door. Lucy was in a similar position at my feet. He was staring at me hard. I looked away, I looked back – he was still staring at me with the strangest look – intense and stern, but not unloving. I knew he was telling me something. At the time, I thought he was going to leave us soon (he’d been ill). But then, when Lucy went first, I thought maybe it was about her. Was this perhaps the Saturday before it all went down? For the life of me I can’t put the timeline in place (did you know grief impacts executive functioning?).
So much of the past two weeks have been a blur, not only because of my elderly pups. I have been too loaded up, too busy, too worked up about what everyone might think about what I do or say or put out into the world.
I’m not sure why I didn’t get similar signals from Lucy, other than a little more affection than usual. I suppose she wanted to be happy-go-lucky right up to the end. The vet swore that she was putting on that Labrador smile in her final moments so we wouldn’t worry about her. Labs never want to cause alarm or sadness.
Anyway, I was in the grocery store this past Sunday morning – I was sad and thinking about these things. At the same time, I was humming along with a song they had going on their PA – it was “Good Thing.” A weird pick for the grocery store, but whatever.
I was over by the yogurt, just sort of staring at it all (not able to call to mind which flavor my husband had requested), when a woman approached me and said, “Excuse me,” very quietly. If you asked me to describe her, I wouldn’t remember a lot – glasses, Asian, shorter hair; I think she had on a puffy vest and leggings and boots. I’m guessing she would have been in her 40s or maybe early 50s. But it’s kind of like she was out of focus.
I turned to her and she asked, “May I tell you something?” Now I was a little leery (geez, is she going to hand me a flyer or try to sell me something?). But of course, I said sure.
She leaned in slightly. In a careful, matter-of-fact, sincere tone, she said, “You are very pretty.”
I was stunned. I stammered out, “Well…thank you.” She nodded curtly and said, “You’re welcome,” with no smile, just a calm, almost…stern expression on her face.
All I could think was how my eyes were puffy and bloodshot from another ugly cry in the car (my third in 36 hours – I kept my grief bottled up for a few days while I was at the conference). I’d literally rolled out of bed and put on clothes to shop early. No makeup. I hadn’t even brushed my hair or put in my contacts.
“Um, thank you so much?” I managed again. I was a little tempted to blurt out the whole saga about how I’d just lost both my dogs, but she nodded one more time and just walked away.
I stared after her, but she didn’t look back. She just went on about her shopping as if she hadn’t said a word to me. I stole two more glances at her as I finished up – she never once looked up or changed her expression. I indulged in one more cry back in the car for good measure.
Later at home, I Googled “Evidence of afterlife for pets.” I was thinking that the whole dogs/cats going over the Rainbow Bridge thing might be just a bunch of bull$h!t we humans have made up to make ourselves feel better. I was curious to see if I could find something to help me believe that our two sweet pups were still something more than the bags of ashes carefully tucked in their wooden boxes. Yes, even with all my spiritual direction training, I get doubts.
I came across several websites that mentioned receiving special messages from deceased pets. There were suggestions to watch for unusual events or encounters. Well then.
Are there angels among us, and was this woman one of them, wandering the aisles spreading a little kindness? Did she just notice that I looked sad and might appreciate a little pick-me-up? Because believe me, friends, I was NOT looking anywhere near “pretty” Sunday morning.*
Or did Ringo or Lucy temporarily possess a middle-aged woman in the dairy section of Trader Joe’s to give me a message? Did they want me to know I’m ok, just as I am, the way they always saw me first thing in the morning when I stumbled around with them to make coffee and scratch their sweet, sleepy heads?
I’m choosing to think so.
Because our furry/feathery/scaly friends don’t care if we look best in blues or yellows, if our hair is gray, or if we’ve gained a few pounds. They’re pure that way. They find us supremely worthy (even pretty?) whether we understand how to prioritize, have an organized pantry, or manage to get down to Inbox Zero. Often, they give us reasons to have routines – mine sure had me on several. And they also remind us, if we pay attention, that our busyness, productivity, or worries about all of the above are ultimately not what it’s all about. If we can accept that we’re ok, and worthy, we have a baseline to build upon – and much to be grateful for.
Happy, happy Thanksgiving to everyone celebrating.
*I’m not looking for any affirmation one way or the other in the comments, btw. You’ll be missing the point.