If the soul is the unconscious and fertile soil of our knowing and eyes are the window to that soul, it makes sense that sometimes our windows inexplicably fling open. A few nights ago I was lying in bed and without thought or words, tears bubbled up and began to overflow. I was surprised—I assumed it was grief but lately my grief has been feeling less runny. Then in the silence of my bedroom I heard what my soul already understood—there were no snores. Rufus’ sleepy-time breathing was a force of nature. His snores were a steady, deep-throated rumble. To me, they were the big soothing sounds of the Pacific Ocean. To others, well, they were just loud.
There’s a scene in my book, Life on All Fours, where the main character, Ben, brings his puppy, Beau, home for the first time. Beau is completely freaked out, confused, over-stimulated, and missing his Mama. Ben doesn’t know what to do but we get the first glimpse of his parenting instinct—from a man who never knew he had one. We witness the beginning of a bond and see that they are connected by that unsung miracle—breath.
My dad moved carefully towards me and picked me up. He sat down on a chair and cradled me close to his chest.
“Poor baby, do you miss your Mama?” My dad’s eyes glistened as he spoke softly.
I squirmed to get free. My dad rubbed all the right places in all the wrong ways. I twisted and turned. His hands held me tight.
“It’s going to be OK, you’ll see. Shhhh.” He petted me slowly. “There you go.” He was warm, and I felt the slow thump of his body. “Yeah, that’s a good boy. Shhhhh.”
His voice hummed low. My wiggles began to have less fight, and my breathing slowed with his. My body felt heavy and limp. My eyes twitched and things started to get blurry. I hadn’t closed my eyes in a very long time.
I heard a chuckle followed by a sniffle, and then my dad whispered, “Little boy, you snore like an old man."
At times, it feels like Rufus’ death is going to take my breath away. Yet, I’m still breathing. Like the undulating ocean surf, breath connects me to life. It is impossible to inhale and not experience the full complement of life’s hardships and joys. Likewise, it is impossible to hold on to any of it because of my need to exhale. My eyes, the window to my soul, understand this. Salty droplets slide from the corners of my eyes to express that which words cannot . . .
Daily Bites and Blessings
Welcome to "Daily Bites and Blessings." Pull up a chair. I’ve set a place for you at the table. These edibles are sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet and often they are both. This is a come as you are party. I invite you to bring your compassion, courage, and curiosity as we dine together on life's bounty. May our time together give us more light and more love.