This has been quite a summer so far. Three weeks ago today, our neighbor died suddenly. A week and a half later, the storms destroyed trees and gardens and roofs. A week ago, the wife of one of my clients from when I had my massage practice died. We attended her Celebration of Life this past Monday. This morning at 6:00, we had to take Ms. Kitty in to the vet's so that she could melt into the one-ness of all. She was struggling to breathe and we couldn't let her suffer. We drove home afterward in the cloudy early morning and I was struck even more deeply at how, since the storm, there are no leaves on the trees. They were all pelted off or torn ragged. Even with the above average rainfall that has caused the grasses to be greener than usual for July, the trees are barren and brown.
I have never held a living thing as the life ran out. What an amazing moment.
Last week's hailstorm only happened once. It took about ten minutes. In my mind, it has happened at least 45 times (the "45 times" part is an inside joke). No, really, it's happened waaayyy more than 45 times inside this movie theater of a mind that shows re-runs quite often.
I do not desire suffering; yet fool I am, I desire the cause of suffering! - Shantideva
Right now, the birds are chirping outside my window and their sound is louder than the din of the morning rush-hour traffic. The second batch of babies is learning to fly and will be gone soon. (Wise parents nested in a hole in the eave where no wind, rain or hail can find them.) The sun is shining in my window. I want to do some window-washing (but I won't) as the sun reveals the parts that didn't get cleaned well (I can live with that today). The cool Colorado morning is heavenly, the coolness magnified by my barefeet and wet hair. Good morning!
Whenever and wherever there is beauty, this inner essence shines through somehow. It only reveals itself to you when you are present. - Eckhart Tolle
According to my next-door neighbor, the 10:00 news weather forecast last night didn't even call for what happened by 10:20. From out of nowhere, all hell just broke loose. We were some of the luckier ones. There are people with windows blown out. There is a house in Arvada with a tree going through it. We got plant and tree damage and damage to the paint on our house. The hoods of our cars look like the surface of the moon. Mr. Carol for Peace is on the roof right now, cleaning off the leaves and branches and looking for damage.
Would you like to take a tour of our house and neighborhood? (If not, you know what to do.)
The sun didn't come out until maybe 7 or later this morning. The sky didn't seem to exist. Things were eerily silent around here, except for the sound of transformers exploding every once in awhile. Then as things got lighter, we were inundated with helicopters hovering overhead for a really long time. It started to get unnerving.
Our front deck
One of the biggest branches that we lost - about 12 feet long. Not bad, considering...
These used to be green bean plants. We were just starting to get some beans.
We had one ripe tomato. Yesterday, I thought that I would wait until today to pick it.
Our house is the one on the right. Our neighbor's car is under those broken branches.
If you look closely, you can see the right tail-light between the branches. Notice how few leaves there are on the branches that stayed upright. A lot of trees, plants and bushes here were just stripped.
In the night, I wondered about the wildlife. Where do they go? How could they all avoid the wind and hail that pelted us? I wonder if this bird is a victim of the storm. You can see that he has a wounded leg, and I'm not sure his wings are working well. When I saw him a second time, close to my front door, I thought I should catch him and get him to a rehabber, but he wouldn't let me get him.
There's another storm in the forecast for tonight. I hope they're wrong about that.
Sirens are blaring all around, sometimes it sounds like the 4th of July because of the explosions of transformers around town. We have no electricity - I'm typing on the laptop.
I can't sleep for a number of reasons.
I went to bed at 9:30 because we were going to get up early for a hike on Green Mountain.
At 10:30, I awoke to winds that sounded like a hurricane. They were quickly followed by hail and lightening. Hail that didn't fall from the sky, but instead was slung with a tremendous force.
We have no basement and I was afraid that we were either in a tornado or at the very least, the hail could break the windows. So I took my pillow and stood in our walk-in closet. It might not be any safer there, but it was all I could do.
After it all passed, we went outside to survey the damage. It was (and still is) eerie out there. No lights are working and there is a foggy, misty aura in the air.
My neighbor's HUGE maple is broken to pieces - some of it lying on their car and some clear into our yard. This is the house where our neighbor, J, lived. J died suddenly in a biking accident a week and a half ago. It is his car that is now covered by a huge branch of the tree. In the dark, we couldn't yet tell how much damage it has sustained.
We went in the backyard to see our garden. What garden? Amazing. I will take photos when it's light out.
After our hailstorm earlier this year, the broccoli had come back; most of the beans and part of the peas had recovered; and the kale and swiss chard were doing well. The zucchini plants and the tomatoes had survived the first hailstorm because we had covered them with sheets. I had just realized that we would have enough garden vegetables that we wouldn't have to buy any from the store this summer.
Now there is nothing. It only took about 10 minutes to flatten what has taken months to grow.
Once again, Byron Katie has helped me to see how my thinking has taken me to an imagined future while things are actually fine this very moment.
Sometimes (almost always) I need to be hit over the head over and over in order for things to sink in.
Last night I read a blog post of Katie's where she helped a woman inquire into her thought processes about her worry over her brothers in Iran. (You can read it here.) Through that line of questioning, I realized that I have images of Ms. Kitty's future that are just that - only images. I don't know what will happen after this moment, but I do know that right now, Ms. Kitty is a happy, sweet, loving kitty. If I put myself into the future, I can't be present with the beauty of what is right now. With me projecting my fears of the future, Ms. Kitty and I miss the love we can share while we're here together.
Ms. Kitty Today
(I just heard Mr. Carol For Peace in the next room saying "Nice little kitty. Such a sweet girl.")
I think I'll go now and just feel the love in this house.
I hope you can feel the love wherever you are, too.
"Say yes to difficulties; they are not obstacles on the path; they are the path." - Ezra Bayda
I frequently say that the Buddha dog is my teacher. Through example he teaches me acceptance, joy, and love.
Somehow I have failed to give teaching credentials to Ms. Kitty. Until now. Ms. Kitty, who turned 20 in March, is a master teacher and I am just now realizing that.
I don't know if Buddha harmed Ms. Kitty Saturday night. There were no witnesses. Buddha has been known to suddenly decide that he's the herder, lunging at a kitty that he thinks needs to be going a different direction, but he's never hurt her. Saturday night, there was a sound. I don't know what the sound was. I do know that Ms. Kitty's hind end didn't look quite right afterward. She was already getting weaker in the hind end and she suddenly looked worse. She wouldn't climb up into her favorite chair - the one she sleeps on 22/7.
Since then, Ms. Kitty has taken to sleeping on a rug in Mr. Carol For Peace's office. This is new. She knows that she can no longer get on her chair and she's not even trying to do it anymore.
Still, she purrs anytime we get near her or hold her.
She NEVER complains about anything. NEVER.
She is pure love, sweetness and acceptance.
She knows no obstacles. When the hind end fails, sleep on the rug on the floor. No comment, just do what's there.
She is melting.
And so is my heart.
The sudden death of our neighbor, the deterioration of my dad's mind and health, Kitty melting away. My heart is not only melting, it's breaking.
And this is the path. None of it is an obstacle. Walking right into it and seeing how natural, how beautiful - it is ALL the path.
That's a quote my next-door neighbor would say as we shared our shoulder ailments with each other. He was a wonderful nurse at a local hospital who had a very good - and dry - sense of humor. Today he died. He didn't get sick and he didn't get old. He followed his own advice.
J was in his 50s. He was in excellent shape. Every year, he rode the Ride the Rockies race - a six day, 300+ mile bicycle ride through the mountains. He worked nights helping really sick people, slept mornings, and in the afternoons he was out working in his yard before he fixed dinner for his wife and mother-in-law.
Even though he slept during the day, he always kept the phone turned on. I woke him up one day, thinking that his phone would be off and I would just be leaving a message. After I apologized profusely, he let me know that he wasn't bothered; after all, he could go back to sleep. He said that he wanted to be able to answer the phone if his college-aged offspring ever needed him.
Yesterday, riding alone down the road on Lookout Mountain, with its steep, hairpin curves, his front tire blew and he crashed.
Death is so strange. Well, it's probably really not strange. I mean, it's one of the most normal things there is. My mind, though, has a hard time wrapping itself around a sudden death like this. I don't think that all of me believes it yet. J and I just waved from our backyards the day before he died. We will do that again soon, right?
Mr. Carol For Peace and I were planning to have J and his wife over for dinner this summer. We didn't - and now it won't happen. At least not the way it would have.
A part of me wants to say "Cherish every moment." "Don't put off having friends over for dinner, because you never know..." "Make the phone calls." "Say 'I love you.'"
But you know what??? We all do what we can. We can't do everything and take care of everybody. We can't control the world. (Obviously)
It truly is what it is.
For some reason tonight, more than ever before, I know that I - or Mr. Carol For Peace - could walk out the door tomorrow and never come back. Wow...
23 years (at least) since I first started looking for you. 15 years since you said that you would marry me some day. (I didn't believe you.) 14 years since our wedding in the front yard of our rental home. 12 years (I think) since we bought our home together. 12 years since we adopted our Buddha dog. 15 minutes since we last kissed.