Letting life unfold— you’ve probably heard this somewhere, from a self-help guru or an old sage. I imagine petals opening into a flower. Maybe a fresh bed sheet billowing in the breeze to reveal children joyfully playing hide-and-seek. Can you feel the cosmic waves washing away doubt and fear?
If so, I’ll have what you’re smoking. My dogs, Rico and Roxy, and I have been through a lot since we last posted on Dog and Dojo. And when Roxy, my little pit bull, developed an aggressive cancer after more than a year of physical therapy for an injury, life’s unfolding felt more like the unfolding of damp, smelly workout clothes that had been sitting for weeks.
I guess life doesn’t always elegantly unfurl to present its gifts. Sometimes it drops those gifts into a crumpled heap. A heap, mind you, that Roxy appears to enjoy snuggling in.
How can a person achieve her mindset?
Dirty Clothes Piling Up
I swear I’ve never let dirty clothes pile up for long, but since I started with the laundry theme, I’m sticking with it. Let’s go back to early 2014. That’s when Roxy tore one ACL. By mid-2014, she strained the other. That’s a big pile of unpleasant laundry. But wait, there’s more.
Since Roxy can’t tolerate beeping noises after I bullied her with a bark collar (biggest regret ever), a stay at the vet’s for surgery, with all its beeping machinery, wasn’t an option. Not unless it was to save her life.
Which it was when they discovered a hard mass in her lower belly. That brings us to this year.
When The Laundry Starts To Stink
I know that’s gross. But so was Roxy’s grade four carcinoma mass with its own system of blood vessels. She developed the kind of cancer that doubles in size in less than a month. And hers had evidence of metastasizing, or spreading already.
The good news, sort of, is that it isn’t painful for her. It steals energy from her body. Left unchecked, she would simply deteriorate and be gone in three months or so.
We’ve been checking it, though. With chemotherapy, homemade food, closely monitored fun, and a spoiling fit for a princess. (More on each of those topics in future posts.)
Still better news is that chemo doesn’t have the same devastating effects on dogs as it does on people — no weight or hair loss, normally no nausea. In fact, she’s handled it like a champ. She’s been in treatment for a few months now. And she’s still the same Roxy.
Well, almost. Because she also suffers from a canine form of Bell’s Palsy (I’ll cover that later, too). The right side of her face became paralyzed—heartbreaking because it meant she couldn’t fully smile. She also can’t blink. Early on, she drooled a lot and had soggy food bits stuck in her cheek that she flung onto the walls or furniture. Or us.
A Little Laundry Everyday
Life is in a state of constant unfolding. It reveals all sorts of things along the way. Some good. Some like smelly gym shorts. We have to maintain its pace by working on ourselves, dealing with each thing as it comes, or else we suffer. Like laundry, you’re never actually done. As soon as you empty the hamper, someone throws in their socks. Life unfolds to reveal another challenge.
We all fall short at times and it hurts; that’s human. And pain can be deafening. But Roxy snores pretty loud, too. And she looks mighty comfy in that pile of blankets.
So maybe life unfolds to reveal that even in the midst of pain, joy beckons. Maybe challenges are designed to help us learn and practice hearing it over the fear and suffering?
What do you think?
Have you ever been lucky enough to recognize a blessing even while in pain’s grip? I’d love to hear about it, so please do share in the comments below.