carrots, cucumbers, and the soft knocking of death
by, 06-27-12 at 04:12 pm (205 Views)
last night, i decided on name for these two boys. at first i was reluctant, because they're unusual names, and i am a little embarassed. i don't want people to give me that funny look, and then say, "oh. cute." but these boys needed special names and i realized their shortened nicknames work just fine.
i am pleased to introduce to you all, for the first time, Dashin (aka Dash) and Daikin (aka Dak). Da Ta DA TA!!
Dashin has the only visible eyeball between the two of them. and he has a head tilt. he sleeps alot more than the other one, and is definitely the quieter pig. "Dashin" is a Zen Buddhist word that means "peaceful heart."
Dakini is by far the more energetic and adventurous one. both his eyes are nothing but slits. and yet he will scamper out of his pigloo often, to climb into the hay and nibble. he always seems to have his nose up in the air, mouth slightly ajar, feet almost off the ground, trying to figure something out - smell something? sense something? wonder what there is at the edge of what he knows?
the boys are asleep in their pigloo now. dashin loves to lay on his side, something i've not seen in my other 5 pigs. i came home from work this afternoon and startled for a minute. i could see him lying on his side, not moving, and i immediately thought the worst!! but, no, he was fine, breathing, him and his peaceful heart in the middle of an afternoon nap.
and for a split second i wondered, "what on earth have i done??!!" i am a hospice chaplain. i've just spent the day visiting with people who are dying - coughing up pieces of their lungs, lost in the fog of advanced dementia or alzheimers, or any other number of terminal conditions. everyone on my caseload is dying. they are all at the end of their lives. i walk 400 or more people a year to the end of their journeys in this world.
and i come home, to unwind and relax, and re-charge myself - to WHAT??!! 2 guinea pigs who are terminally ill. 2 boys who have already lived beyond what most people would expect. 2 boys i am in love with, who are going to die, sooner rather than later. . . .
what have i done?
and now they are awake, and squirming, and making chucking noises, nudging each other, stretching, coming out for some hay.
and i don't understand why i love them so differently. no - dare i say it - love them more than my other 5 pigs.
because i know they won't be with me for long.
i love flowers, and gardening. always have. and for me, the best part has always been right after i cut them from their stem in the garden. i know from that moment on, they're dying. that the bright, blazing, vibrant red of this tulip is fading even as i carry it to the kitchen a find the perfect vase for it. that tomorrow it will be just a little less red. and the next day, the stem will be a little softer, and droop just the tiniest bit, and the next day and the next day, until the petals fall and there's nothing but the soft green, half folded over itself stem.
somehow, knowing that it was going to disappear very quickly, too quickly, in just a matter of days, made me love it all the more. made it precious in my sight somehow. like i had this moment - this very small moment and if i blinked i'd miss it and i didn't want to miss any of it. it was all too much.. .
i know these boys will die one day soon. they are already 2 years old. but all it does is make me more aware of how precious every day i have with them is. i want to watch them chew their blades of hay. i want hold them in my lap and scratch the tops of their heads until they can't stand me any more. i don't want them to go before i'm ready. before they've taught me everything i need to know about how to really see and experience the beauty and wonder of life while the end of it is waiting right outside the door, knocking softly.
i'll learn to live with the breathlessness when i walk in the door and wonder if they're napping or dead. because when i see them squiggly and watch them draw breath, i am so very happy. i am reminded how every moment is so precious, and every moment is all about this breathe. this breathe. then this next breath, then the next one. . .
what that means for my own life, and how their living with their dying will change me, only time will tell.
but for now, it's time for a thin strip of cucumber and carrot for my boys, Dashin and Dakini.