Part of it might be due to having to create some space on my hard drive that is rapidly reaching its limits. Scanning through old photos to archive revealed many meaningful memories. Also, during this morning's meditation, thoughts of our life together naturally arose as I snuggled up to a pillow full of her hair. (I'll explain that one in my upcoming book, A Small Price to Pay!)
It is hard to believe that a year has passed, but I have felt our connection grow and change in many different ways since she's been gone. Maybe having remnants of her physical nature (hair and ashes) keeps a genetic presence that is beyond logical explanation, but whenever I snuggle to the pillow my heart warms, tingles and opens much like it did when I would pet her or give her belly rubs in the morning.
Reflection comes so easy for me this time of year. It takes on new meaning every time it's practiced because my perspective changes due to the passage of time. As I view my life now, more patterns are evident and, more importantly, the incredible nature of how things needed to have occurred to create this unique moment becomes even more baffling. Beings, places, things and the never-ending interaction between them all create the myriad of possibilities that couldn't have been planned better if the greatest minds on the planet tried. (I'm always confounded to think how we humans try to better natural systems, given evolution to this point!)
This morning, I also reflected on my maternal grandmother, Neta Banasco, who, in all the years of us growing up, insisted that we write thank you letters for gifts we received and experiences we shared. Besides the benefit of learning how to assess thoughts and put them to paper and practicing our printing or cursive, it created a life-long habit of being oriented toward gratitude. When as a kid I thought it was about "the right thing to do," now, as an adult, it is about the "only thing to do." I couldn't have planned this early learning better.
Nor could I have planned the years I spent at the cabin or my relationship with Shyla. After having put his dog down, my ex-partner plucked Shyla out of a box of wriggling puppies at the local grocery store and brought her home. We had talked about getting another dog, but nothing was definite.
She spent her first summer with him in the hills outside Nevada City while he remodeled and expanded a remotely located home for our friends. A dream life for her, I thought for sure she would be his new life buddy, replacing his long-time companion dog, but our bond soon became strong and clear. This unplanned event in my life created one of the most profound connections and relationships I've experienced thus far. I couldn't have planned it or picked anyone better for me than Shyla.
It's an example of how something so magically wonderful can arise from causes and conditions seemingly outside our realm of influence. But, so many events in our lives are this way and even the most profoundly painful ones can give us this same sense of awe and gratitude, given enough time and distance for reflection. For now, even though my heart aches that Shyla is gone, I embrace and bow in gratitude what I was able to have with her.
In all the stories we hear and see, in all the grandeur and glory that media can portray them, the stories of our lives are even more unique and profound. Some of my favorite movies growing up were the disaster movies that opened with showing the people, prior to the fateful event, in their life situations and the particular choices that threaded them all in a tapestry for the brief moment in time they spent together. We don't get the benefit of this preview in our lives in real time, so we have to take time to reflect after the fact to see all of these magic connections. It's kinda like how Fall and Winter are after a busy Spring and Summer.
For the rest of my thinking days, I will have the cherished memories of my life. As the years go by, I am experiencing a deepened gratitude, as I see more of the individual threads come together from a distance, weaved into the bigger picture that is the whole of my life. And more and more as I reflect, I realize that I couldn't have wished for a better life.