Do I dareDisturb the universe? In a minute there is time For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse. For I have known them all already, known them all– Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I have measured out my life with coffee spoons; I know the voices dying from a dying fall Beneath the music from a farther room, So how should I presume? T.S. Eliot Excerpt from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
In our personal life and work, we often get the advice to focus on the next step in front of us. The problem is that determining the next step isn’t always easy.
A tough personal situation in my life at this time, is what to do with our little dog Ginger.
She has had many medical problems over the last two years, and continues to show signs of decline, including blindness, diabetes, incontinence, and neurological problems.
At the same time, she still wags her tail, loves to eat and follows me around. Taking care of her is expensive, messy and heartbreaking. My oldest son wants me to put her down now, but my youngest son, Nicholas wishes for a miracle.
I was talking to a fellow life coach this morning about my situation. We’ve partners in a class we’re taking together. She recently put her beloved cat to sleep who was quite sick, and had made her decision to do this in the same way that I had once done with a beloved cat of mine. She asked her cat to let her know when it was ready to let her go, and give her as sign. I had forgotten that I had done that.
As we know, animals don’t communicate with us in the same way that humans do. In my case, I had been watching my cat’s health steadily declining as he battled cancer for a few years. He no longer wanted to sit near me or on my lap, but still loved to go outside and would crawl into dark spots in the bushes or sit at the base of trees and watch people walk by the house that I lived in on the north side of Chicago. Since he was a black cat, he was often hard to see in his hiding places.
One day, as I sat our sat on our front porch watching him, I asked him in my mind, please Charlie, that was his name, tell me when it is time to go. Within five minutes, my cat crawled back from where he was sitting, climbed up the stairs to the porch and jumped on to my lap. I can still remember this day as if it was yesterday, even though it was over 15 years ago.
A few days later, when I took my cat to the vet, he was so afraid and struggled in his final moments, even though I had that strong sense that he was ready for this. I was nine months pregnant at that time and gave birth to my first son, two weeks later. I cried so much that our veterinarian ended up donating money to a cancer foundation for cats on behalf of Charlie.
For the longest time, I wondered if I had made the right decision, if I had presumed incorrectly. I just didn’t know. I had expected to get a sign from him that he was ok, the same way that I did at my grandmother’s funeral. I felt her spirit telling me that she was in a better place. With Charlie, I felt nothing. I felt nothing for years.
Fast forward to about five years ago, I was in Birmingham, England on a work assignment and a friend of mine talked me into visiting a psychic who supposedly could contact the dead. A month before then, my father had just died, and I was curious about him. I had been with my father in his final moments, and I felt that he was at peace.
What the psychic said about him rang true, but it was at the end of our discussion that she surprised me the most. I asked her if she could contact pets as well. She told me that my grandmother who was with us, had said to tell me that his name is Charlie. I nearly fell out of my chair, when she said his name. The psychic had no way of knowing his name, and then she said, he really loved his food. Charlie looked like a giant black bowling ball much of his life. I started crying, and asked her if he forgave me for putting him to sleep. She said all was well, and that he was always with me, watching over me. After that time, I started feeling his presence with me often.
This morning, as I talked to my coaching friend about Ginger, I told her about Charlie. She said, why don’t you ask Charlie to help you. At that moment, I felt his presence come to me, and knew that he would help me in the weeks to come.
I don’t have an answer of what to do with my little Ginger yet. But I do have a sense that something larger us redeems our decisions, whether they are right or wrong, when we make them with deep and sincere love in our hearts, all becomes well. And when we let go of our preconceived ideas about how life is supposed to be, we can experience the love that never really leaves us.
Do you have any special ways that you determine your next step during difficult times?