Doggies, Death & Being Present


I like to walk the dogs in a nearby cemetery. Massive magnolias, ancient oaks and other such glorious expressions of nature tower over the gravestones and the walking paths. I don't know anyone that's buried there, but the time I spend exploring fires up my imagination and I often feel the sense of a few kindred spirits. So many names and dates and statements about the person that lies beneath the stone. Often, the stone (or lack thereof) can be statement enough.  

I tattooed something on my wrist a few years back when I thought I would have liked death more than the pain of that particular season of life. It’s just a few letters that help to remind me of an important lesson. It’s slowly been fading (truthfully less fade, more painful laser) and I want very much to replace it with the following words: Now Is The Perfect Moment. I might just do so.

Often I wonder if we will ever be as confident discussing death, grief and loss as we are discussing diet, botox and politics? I have a dear friend who wrote one of the most powerful things I’ve ever read on the subject of grief and it continues to roll around in my mind. I have lost few that meant much to me, but of those that I have lost, each is missed deeply. One in particular, my age, my dear friend, my kindred spirit who taught me the best lesson I think anyone can learn: we are all on gonna die. Some, like she did, got the ‘how’ much sooner than most and it informed her every day. I witnessed her depth of kindness for strangers and her true joy and silliness. No moment would be wasted because no moment was guaranteed. She knew in her soul the lesson of a perfect moment, thankfully she taught me the skill of acknowledging it as well.

I know my level of enthusiasm or my habit of talking with strangers or just the joy I find in the stunning morning light shining off the headstones of a cemetry isn't for everyone. I've been criticized for being too friendly or taking too long to help the stranger or whatever feels like a nuisance to the person in a hurry or on their way. No matter, I plan to continue talking with strangers, being joyful whenever I am able and walking my always-in-the-present-moment dogs through the cemetery, reading the names and the ages and the sentiments of people long out of any moment, perfect or not. I like the reminder that some of us get decades upon decades, others only a few years. No matter the amount of time, more important, what do we do with the precious time we have?