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knowing what we know

when i was eighteen years old, i witnessed my beloved cat, Suzie get hit by a truck and killed. i’d been calling her from across the street to come home. she hadn’t listened. i turned away from her to go back inside when i heard a truck coming down the street. panicked–knowing our pattern and that she’d likely begun to follow me, since i was no longer paying attention–i turned back around just in time to see her heading into the truck’s direct path. panic overtook me and i began screaming at her: turn back! run faster! stop! utter confusion and horror. and then, death. it was horrible.

how do we trust ourselves and one another to know what we know?

this morning, my girl Rosie was asking for a walk. she’s been through a lot of change with the loss of her companion Hannah and then the new addition of Bo. our constellation of family has wholly shifted and she’s feeling it. because i love her so, i’m paying attention. as I do, i’m noticing the deeply ingrained compulsions to spring into protection, comfort, coddling mode. there are times these compulsions make good sense: Bo plowing over her in his rowdy play; her refusal to eat; her pitiful eyes gazing into our hurting hearts.

it is here, in that exact moment when the compulsion to intervene returns me to the memory of Suzie’s death. despite what we know (as in, i actually knew she would be hit by that truck), we cannot know what the other knows. maybe, if i hadn’t screamed hysterically, she would have heard more clearly her own instincts and moved out of the way.

back to the walk this morning. i didn’t want to go. i had other plans. i tried to hand off her request to one of the kids. they fussed saying the dogs had already been out. “why do we have take them again?” it was not something i could explain. it was a felt sense and i wanted it be offered from joy and love, not resentment. so i dropped the plans and off we went. Rosie, Bo, and me.

walks, i’m learning are her favorite time with him. she is most at ease and most free to be herself in this time of transition.

we arrived at our favorite hillside, a completely open meadow where she always tugs at the leash to be released so that she can RUN. it always drove Hannah crazy and she also loved it. they’d play wildly, doing mad laps around the entire park. it’s always been total joy. since Hannah died, Rosie hasn’t tugged; she hasn’t found her wild; there’s been no interest in running. today, when we approached the hillside, i sat down with Bo. i told her to, GO. i unleashed her. and said it again. GO. Bo and i sat; we waited.

slowly she headed down the hill and found a puddle and laid there.

we continued to wait. Bo, so sweet and patient, with an unexplainable understanding of precisely what was happening.

we waited. we stayed. we waited. for a long time.

Bo and I slowly made our way down to her. she continued to simply lie there. oh, grief. she was in it and she needed to be alone, still. in that place.

Bo began to get excited to see her as we grew closer and then tasted the moment and stilled.

Rosie got up, turned for home, and led us along the path. she was different. we all knew it.

how do we trust ourselves and one another to know what we know?

as we came up the path, there she was: Mama Deer. standing with poise and power, staring straight at us. it was like she’d been waiting for us.


Rosie, still off leash headed for her, chasing her. just then, a car began toward her and i could anticipate just what i anticipated 30 years ago with Suzie. terror. my heart skipped, my breath caught.

i called her name, in more of a prayer this time. i respect Rosie’s knowing and have learned the painful lessons of intervening based on the lack of faith–lack of respect–of an other.

Rosie figured it out. prancing, head high, we headed home.

Mama Deer watching us, on her hillside. proud.

my heart, pounding with tears of grief and grace flowing. Bo, happily bounding alongside.

how do we trust ourselves and one another to know what we know?

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