2012 kicked off with a stark little lesson of life: all things will pass. Driving up to the mountains near the Norwegian border before New Yearâ€™s Eve, I learned from the kind veterinarian that Lucy the dog would not make it through 2012 with me. In fact, we have a few more precious days left. For those of you who have been following this blog and/or my other writings, you are aware that this beautiful creature that looks more like an advertisement for Save the Seals than a dog, has been a constant companion in walking and writing. Lucy has called my attention to things that otherwise would pass me by: a squirrel that has just clambered up a tree; a cat that has run across the street; the great mysteries that lie hidden under piles of fallen leaves.
Up here at my mountain hut this New Year, Lucy and I are taking the last of our walks in the snow together. She looks like a chequerboard, with great patches of fur shaved off here and there, after an operation that could not save her.Â It would seem responsible to keep her covered with so much bare skin exposed, but what is life worth if you cannot even have a refreshing morning roll in the snow? She takes each step more slowly than she used to, and I am always ahead of her these days. Still, at times she smells the exhilaration of the mountains in the air and charges into the great piles of snow on the sides of the cross-country tracks. Life and walking with Lucy in the snow this early 2012 seems like the most precious of elixirs: each small drop to be relished in moments one strives, against reality, to expand into an eternity.
Dogs have very deep souls, says my 100-year-old grandmother. â€œLooking into their eyes is like looking into a deep sea of feeling and intensity.â€ Of late, Lucy has made increasing efforts to meet my gaze. When she was younger, there was so much else for her to be interested in, and then there was the submission factor. To stare straight into your masterâ€™s eyes is an act of defiance for a dog. Lucy was rarely defiant. Up here at our mountain house, as she senses that her life is coming to a close, she seeks out my eyes. In the finality of life we are all equals. I put down my tiresome books and newspapers, and meet her gaze. Her eyes are two black spots in a white face, and now they fasten onto me like magnets. Her head cocks as she reads my thoughts. I hope that she can feel their caress upon her heart.
In sympathy with Lucy, I have contracted some sort of curable disease which a simple packet of pills will cure. Lucyâ€™s ears are pricked up as I head off to the doctorâ€™s office in the neighboring town. She wants to follow me â€“ knows that I am not well. Once the car has pulled out, she sits waiting in the patch of thin snow (as opposed to the thick and unruly snow everywhere else) that the cover of the car has left in our driveway. Despite the discomfort, she waits there for two hours until I return with my tablets. She is overjoyed to see me. I would share my tablets with her, if I thought they might help.
Iâ€™ve already asked Lucy to meet me once I catch up with her at the Pearly Gates. I can see her jumping up at them, barking at St. Peter, or whoever it is that guards that gate, to let me through. My husband thinks that I am insane when I talk in this way, but that is alright. Thinking of Lucy as an angel in heaven, with fluffy white wings that match the color of her fur, isnâ€™t something I am ashamed of. Each of has to find ways of coping with the finality of life, and thinking of walking with my faithful hound in the clouds, both of us winged and this time looking down upon the squirrels in the trees, seems a pleasant way to do so. Beyond that, I have made a pledge to Lucy that in 2012 I will do whatever I can to enjoy this short and precious thing we call life. I hope youâ€™ll join me in this important mission.
Wondering what to give a friend or loved one this New Year? Learn more about Julie Lindahlâ€™s prize-winning new book, â€œRose in the Sand,â€ a memoir of a decade lived on a Swedish island. Order it now from amazon.com, amazon.co.uk , Author House, authorhouse.co.uk and many other online bookstores. Other books by Julie Lindahl available are: Letters from the Island (listenÂ also to Julieâ€™s podcasts from this site)Â and On My Swedish Island: Discovering the Secrets of Scandinavian Well-being.
Julie Lindahl is the founder of Stories for Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to learning and communication through storytelling.