Change is Inevitable

I recently heard this stunning quote by the Buddha: The biggest mistake in life we can make is to think we have time. Time is free but it’s priceless, you cannot own it, but you can use it; you can’t keep it but you can spend it. Once it’s lost you can never get it back.
Monday morning, fortified with Buddha’s reminder of how truly precious each day is, I knew that I had to pull myself together after the passing of my beloved golden retriever, Lacey, over the weekend. A life change was being forced upon me. I braced myself. After some 3000 morning walks with my beautiful Lacey, and her kennel mates, today was going to be difficult; the first day in many years when my morning walk did not include at least three dogs wagging their way down the trail. Awhile back I had come to the decision that in the future I needed to simplify, by limiting myself to just two dogs. Sadly, I found myself at that juncture far sooner than I had expected
I tied my shoes on, ushered River and Dixie into the car, and prepared for the first day with just two pups. I grimly thought a new beginning. I headed to the ocean determined that today was to be a celebration of all Lacey had meant to us, and that I did not want to lose another day to being so sad.
My grief work has taught me some fundamentals of moving forward in the face of loss. I knew that I had to try to feel better, that allowing what seemed like a concrete brick in my stomach to remain was not the best. I knew I had to reframe the loss and take physical action. It seemed that it was time to practice what I knew.
I decided to change things up. I drove much farther than usual, to a beach trail along the coast of San Clemente starting at the pier. The dogs had never been there before. I parked, leashed them up, and we were off.
Goodness! The moment they were out of the car they became ecstatic over all that was new. There was much excited sniffing as we headed down the hill from the parking lot. I held on, as it felt like I had hold of a team of racing dogs. They were in overdrive, eager to get to the next new scent. Along we strode, faster than ever, then suddenly they’d stop to examine a particular bush, then off again. Their high enthusiasm took me out of myself, plus it was all I could do just to hang onto them! 
Choosing a new environment was stimulating for me too. The waves were huge and the wet-suited surfers were out in force, some flying down the front of the waves, while others popped above the breakers. There was something of a carnival atmosphere as there were so many people about; spectators, walkers and joggers. We power-walked along the sandy path next to the breaking surf. After sometime, I felt my heart growing lighter.
After a couple of miles at this energetic pace, we stopped under a shaded picnic arbor and watched the surfers. River and Dixie were tired by then and happy to sit quietly. It gave me a chance to think about Lacey, of all the fantastic adventures we had had across her almost ten years. I smiled remembering when she was a puppy and I chased her all over the yard trying to get a dead rat out of her mouth! I pictured her patience with our cat, Beauty, who enjoyed lying on Lacey’s head. I recalled how precious it was that she always wanted to carry her leash in her mouth on the way home from our outings. I thought what a truly good girl she had always been, and how much I loved her.
Before long two college girls came by to pet Dixie and River. The dogs loved the girls’ attention. After a bit one of the girls shared that she had recently lost her golden retriever. That prompted me to confess about Lacey. We chatted easily about dogs and the intimacy that can develop between a pet and its’ human. It was a nice exchange, a respectful sharing of feelings. It reminded me how “dog people” sort of get each other. 
River, Dixie and I took our time sitting there. We savored the warm October morning, the sea gulls squawking overhead, the antics of the surfers, and the lively vibe of people going about their business; chatting in pairs, jogging, sipping coffee and enjoying being alive in the world. 
I thought again about Buddha. He once said that “Everything heals. Your body heals, your heart heals. The mind heals. Your happiness is always going to come back.” I know that it true. I know how fortunate I am to have had my devoted companion for all those years.
Ken came into the room as I was writing this to you. He asked what I was doing and I told him. He looked at me, picked up the calculator. “Donna, Lacey was with you for over five million minutes. How truly blessed you are.” Truly I am.
I would love to know what has been going on with you. 
My best, donna