a yoga-inspired wellness blog
My cat’s ashes have been sitting in a cardboard box on a dank shelf at the vet’s office for the last year and a half, and my dog’s ashes have been sitting in a slightly bigger cardboard box on an equally dank shelf at the vet’s office for the last 11 months. That foggy moment when the vet’s assistant slowly hands you that little box, head tilted to the right slightly and eyes looking into yours carefully for fear that perhaps you will break down at the sight of what once was one of your best friends, that moment when you can no longer deny the fact that this furry little being with the scratchy meow and wriggly butt, or this little guy with the gentle eyes and bizarre howl, this friend, is now just a sprinkling of ash and bone … that moment is just a little too painful for me. So I wait, month after month, hoping that their ashes will just go away, hoping that the moment never has to arrive.
Here I am, Ms. Yoga herself, the woman who professes to be at peace with death and the temporariness of all we experience with the five senses, dreading picking up two little boxes of ashes, trying with all my might to deny that two dear pets who lived by my side for 17 years, have died … months ago. As much faith as I have in a benevolent force of creation, as much peace and experience as I have with letting go of loved ones in the form I once knew them, the grief never escapes me. I still grieve for my dad, for my husband’s dad, for Nate McKee, for Ogema, for Sean Miller, for Ben Detwiler, for the dozens of unconditionally loving four-leggeds who have graced my life with theirs. And no matter how many times I let go of someone’s physical form, the grief still weighs on my heart, a literal pressure I feel in my chest at the comprehension that I will never in this lifetime hear their voice, smell their breath, feel their fur or skin, see their hands or paws, embrace them.
Then I stop myself. I realize how pathetically self-absorbed it is for me to wail and whine at the fact that poor me will never get to hug so-and-so. I am shaken into reality and given much-needed perspective when I think of two women who have lived through more than many of us can fathom, yet are the embodiment of strength: Karen Perry and Chris Detwiler. No pain could be worse than the pain of losing a child. Karen lost all three of her children, and Chris lost her teenage son. Yet these women, though once buried in grief, rose out of agony and turned their grief into strength, their pain into grit, their loss into the gain of a life passionately lived. They both give more to the world than most, they both fully embrace the love in their lives, they both honor their children by living their own lives zestfully.
And damn, if Karen Perry and Chris Detwiler can stand tall and walk through this life with as much poise and beauty as they do, after having lost their children, then surely I can get my ass to the vet’s office to scoop up two boxes of ashes off those dank shelves and put my beloved furry friends to rest.
To Karen Perry and “Momma Chris”: You inspire me to be spiritually strong; to gracefully accept and move past grief when it comes; to love those in my life with great passion; to enjoy every moment of motherhood; to give more to the world than I feel like giving. You have taught me that the human spirit is stronger, more resilient, more vibrant than I ever knew possible. You give me faith in my own strength. Thank you.