Remember Your Reason

I wrote this piece on June 12, 2017, the one-year anniversary of an accident in which our beautiful dog, Cruzer, sustained a spinal cord injury that caused irreparable damage to his body and organs.  Six months later, we chose to let him go … with grace, and with a promise that his mess would become our message.  Below is the original post, thank you for reading it.

Remember Your Reason

Fifty-two Sundays have gone by since Cruzer Patterson ran for the last time. By fate, a friend captured his last run on her iPad. Four hours after that random act of kindness, she sent it to me. She had no way to know we were in an emergency room hoping that he lived the night. She had no way to know that her casual grab would become a gift nearly as precious as he. He lived through that night, and that is important, because if Cruzer’s story ended there, his reason for being would have been lost.

On-course, I led the dance we ran. Off-course, he became my coach for how to live. As weeks turned into months, and now, into a year, Cruzer continues to send me patience, joy in miracles, a remembrance to be grateful for what is around me. His injuries gave me courage, no matter how desperately I wanted to crawl in a hole and pull his blanket around me.

Strength became a way of life. Once you’ve seen hell, nothing much scares you. Understanding the honor and privilege that is the gift of every moment was his biggest lesson. He makes me be aware.

I believe Cruzer wanted me to understand his lessons as well as I understand how to do a front cross. From the universe that he now lives in, he continues to guide me.

1. Be grateful. There is always something to say thank you for in your day. 

2. Wag your tail, even if no one can see it (he could not wag his tail after the injury). More joy would be a good thing. 

3. Chase a ball, even if the universe says you can’t. You may fall, or, you may get it. Honor the effort.

4. You can’t push the river. It goes at the speed it goes, no matter what. So take time to splash around and get a little wet. The people you find out there on the water may turn out to be the liferaft that will keep you afloat when the tide turns rough. 

5. Try … really really wholeheartedly try. Not the wishy-washy attempts at trying, but the honest to goodness college effort kind of trying. “Trying honestly sucks,” said no one ever. 

6. Horrible, bad, unexplainable things happen. Figure out what you can use from each mess and make it your super power. 

7. Be aware. This journey is yours, and it has to feel right for you. If it doesn’t, move. If it does, soak it in, and hold onto it. 

8. Embrace the judgemental and the awkward. Those folks are afraid of something, too, maybe the same thing you are. That’s honorable.

9. The two most powerful words are “I am.” What you choose to put after them defines you. Resilient, strong, durable, reliable, honest, naïve, humorous, resourceful, tenacious, believing, aware, at peace …… those are good ones to be. 

10. Acceptance doesn’t mean you gave up. We can’t change everything, but, we can give it a hell of a good try (see #5). And as we try, our circles become bigger, and richer, and the world can be a vibrant place, if we believe.

Six-weeks after his accident, Cruzer continued to remind me to find joy in the simple things, like, standing. Even if someone has to help you.

But today, there was also joy. I floated on a river, paddling a kayak alongside wonderful people, seeing and experiencing things, taking a moment to breathe and remember that the river would carry me, I just had to follow it, and keep going forward. Plenty of time in the miles we traveled to give thanks for the moments along life’s path …..

Admittedly, today, this fifty-second Sunday has been a challenge. I would be a liar if I said that any of these days have been easy. Today (as on many other days), there have been tears, and I’m sure more will happen before the day is through, and through days going forward.

And, while I want to give in on many days because of the numerous injustices the universe has tossed at Billy and me over these last fifty-two Sundays, I remember his name ….. Keep on Cruz’n …… and I will.