“If you go slowly enough, six or seven months is an eternity—if you let it be—if you forget old things, and learn new ones. Even a week can last forever.”
Rick Bass, Winter

"In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."
Albert Camus

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Part II, Day One: Another 108 Days

It's the beginning of April, the trees, confused by late March's summer weather, are budding a month early, and Zoe and I just returned from a road trip to Vermont and Massachusetts in which she:
  • walked and ran five miles a day (except for driving days);
  • met, hiked alongside, dined with, and had a pajama party with Milo, the golden retriever who has the same bone cancer as she does, his pack sister, Emily, their human family, James and Glenn, and meanwhile made the acquaintance of a certain wily, nimble, provocative, refrigerator-vaulting cat; 
  • visited her saucy, smiley cousin Sadie, whose herding instincts take the form of tagging the humans in the flock with a rag or stick or squeaky toy on each walk, and who has been known to do a leap-frog over Zoe, horizontally; 
  • had acupuncture twice, liked it, and booked in again for mid-April; 
  • embarked on a new chapter of more adventurous canine dining (raw meats!  oats!  kelp!  holy health food store!); 
  • chased one UPS truck to the street and then sat in smug, self-satisfaction in a pool of sunlight on my sister and brother-in-law's deck, telling us all by her haughty look: My work is done here now
  • shoved her saucy, smiley cousin aside on the couch to find the best position for watching Michele Williams become Marilyn Monroe on family movie night; 
  • and returned home to the North Country to assume her favorite position on the deck guarding the house and ruling the people inside it.

Zoe and I agree: it feels good to be home again.

And it feels good to be back on the beat, writing about daily life, even if this new season will definitely challenge my dog and my husband and me to be stronger than we thought we were, because spring has sprung with much uncertainty.

For today's meditation, I opened up to this teaching from Your True Home, the Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh:
We all feel insecure.  We don't know what the future holds: accidents happen, a loved one may suddenly be struck by an incurable disease and die, and we are not sure if we'll be alive tomorrow.  This is all part of impermanence, and this feeling of insecurity can make us suffer.
How can we face this feeling?  What is our practice?  I think living deeply in the moment is what we have to learn and practice so we can face this feeling of insecurity.  We have to handle the present moment well.  We live deeply in the present moment so that in the future we will have no regrets.  We are aware that both we and the person in front of us are alive.  We cherish the moment and do whatever we can to make life meaningful and to make him happy in this moment.
Gentle reader, this is my mission for the next 108 posts (which might not happen on 108 consecutive days; I'm giving myself a little leeway this time . . . )  To cherish the moment and do what I can to make life meaningful for my dog, myself, and our little pack, even as Zoe's future is uncertain.

We know that the nodules in her lung were shrinking during most of the winter, when I began writing "Winter with Zoe," and then they got a little bigger as we began a new season and a new kind of chemotherapy treatment.

But today, as I write, she is very much alive.  Her coat is shining, her eyes are bright, and she is on an hour-long walk with her favorite beagle and her favorite golden retriever, and three of her favorite men, including my husband: what we refer to around here as the gentlemen's walk.  Before she left a few minutes ago, she ate her new food with gusto, then tossed around the squeaky beaver, looking murderous and delighted at once.  She's baaaaack, and she's ready for a good Sunday, and she might even con us into doing something foolish, something April foolish, on her behalf.

I have a backlog of stories to share with you.  I look forward to taking this ride with you again, gentle reader, and I wish you a most relaxing Sunday and start to the new month. 


  1. I've been there...different disease, same daily struggle, and in the end the only thing we could do was see him out of this world with the same loyalty with which he saw us through it. Zoe's a beauty. Our best to her, and you!

  2. Thank you so much, Nichole! And I look forward to reading your novel in June.

  3. She looks so noble sitting there with her purple heart on display. Love, love, love.
    xoxo m