New Levels of Gratitude

Since Angus’s mishap last Thursday, Mr P and I have experienced a kaleidoscope of emotions. We have operated as a unit – see-sawing between stable stoicism on one hand, before collapsing under a heap of wailing ‘what ifs’ and ‘should haves’ on the other. While it was hard seeing Mr P’s contortionist attempts to mask raw pain, I realised, through those last few days, it is still a new thing to be able to share so completely, the weight of worry when it hits. To know someone else felt, just as I did, provided its own level of comfort, strange as that may seem.

I think when you’ve been a single parent, or you’ve been alone for many years, you get used to dealing with challenges on your own. I don’t say that to garner any sort of pity – it’s just a fact of life that when there’s no one to steer the ship for a bit while you go off and have a private meltdown after a frank exchange of views, you get used to it. You understand no-one else is going to fix things for you so you better pull up your big girl pants and get on with it. So yes, there’s something to be said for being able to “share” your meltdowns (though I don’t recommend having them together at the same time) because if you have a good relationship in your life, your friend or partner can get you back on course when you are tempted to go a little off-piste.  

But then again, sometimes you need to hit that wailing wall to be reminded of a few of life’s simple truths. 

In the small hours of the morning, Mr P and I heard Angus whimpering. We are having to carry him outside to do what a dog’s got to do, even when he’s too medicated to realise.  It had turned decidedly wintery over the last 24 hours, so we got up, got dressed ready to face the bracing cold outdoors.

I remember wishing for the first time, that we weren’t in the cold of Tasmania, but back in the balmy nights of NSW. Getting up out of bed never seemed such a struggle back there. The warm, sunlight makes everything seem easier.  The cold, dark, windy and rainy night just amplified my concerns for Angus, the fact that he found getting up beyond a struggle, not to mention  my new-found misgivings about having moved to such a cold place. It sounds quite symbolic or metaphorical doesn’t it? But as we carried him on his  bed outside, I heard a voice that said – “we can always be MORE grateful”.

The voice was so loud I know it didn’t come from me. I was too tired and cold, with sprinkles of sleep deprived grouchiness to be Pollyanna. “We can always be MORE grateful”.

As I looked across at Mr P who had grabbed a mishmash of jogging bottoms, thick socks a ‘westy’ shirt and “sliders” in the darkness,  I remembered I was not in this alone – and yes – I was momentarily overwhelmed with gratitude for this human who shared and cared as much as I did about our hound now stretchered between us out in the garden.

Later, in the wee small hours, once we got Angus settled again, I began thinking about all the little things Angus does like bringing my socks to me, hoping I’ll either put them on so we can go for a walk or perhaps I’ll let him pounce on them and attack them.  Either way, it’s a win-win for Angus. I was thinking about how he uses his snout to get the duvet off me in the morning as if to say ‘come on we’ve got things to do, smells to sniff and leaves to chase’.

I found myself picturing Angus running and playing or jumping up on people in his exuberance. What training? he always seems to taunt. I felt an almighty pang of sadness again. Will he be able to do all these things again?   I was thinking about his smart brain and how he seems able to understand our ramblings (even when we speak in code) and I began thinking about all the seemingly ordinary, yet amazing things about him, that make him such a huge presence in our lives. Not only is he our best friend and companion, but he’s Mr P’s fellow ‘alpha’ adventurer doing the tough ‘fun’ jobs in the great outdoors – while simultaneously being my heart, my home, my baby and little wolf protector. Such a weight to carry for one so small …

I could always be MORE grateful … not just for having the best dog in the world in my life, but for having a dog who has a healthy body, a gentle spirit and a warm heart.

I could always be MORE grateful because our place in Tasmania is far better set up to accommodate Angus and his ongoing needs more than we would ever have been in NSW (our last place had stairs to get up to the front of the house and was built into a ridge).

I could always be MORE grateful for the fact I am sharing my life with someone who is there with me for life’s ups and downs – side by side.

So I guess that was my little learning (and sharing) moment. You see, I always thought I knew all about gratitude. I teach  “Gratitude” in my workshops.  It’s something I actively practice – because I’ve always known the fine line between having a home and being homeless, having a loved one in your life one minute – and not the next …I’ve known what it’s like to worry about the big things on my own – so I’ve learned how powerful the act of gratitude is – and I truly feel it for every  wonderful thing in my life.

And yet, I hadn’t given gratitude for the  ordinariness of a normal working day. I hadn’t stopped to be grateful for Angus’s health, or think for a moment about how amazing it was that he could trot around on four legs doing normal dog things …chasing bark and leaves or jumping at the sprinkler as we watered plants.  I hadn’t gone to that level of gratitude, because no matter our best intentions, there are still things in life we take for granted. So I get it now – “we can always be MORE grateful”.

If you have a fur baby in your life – be  grateful for the hair they shed on your clothes and furniture … or the drool on your couch. Be grateful for their little tilt of the head when you speak to them in code about w.a.l.k.s. and c.h.e.e.s.e. Be  grateful when they curl up at the end of your bed or on your bedroom floor each night. Contended. Safe. Happy. Loved. 

If you have a partner, a family or one good friend, you can always be grateful for the  ways in which they lighten the load in your life, or the laughter they bring when all you want to do is wail at the wall.

This is your little reminder you can always be MORE grateful for the seemingly ordinary and mundane – because those are the moments you want back with all your heart when the unforeseen happens in the blink of an eye.

I was more than grateful to see the sun came up the next morning. It put the cold, wintery night in perspective, and let’s be honest, a little sleep always helps.  I will be MORE than grateful to be able to stand in cold again tonight, knowing we will all soon enjoy some very ordinary days ahead

2 thoughts on “New Levels of Gratitude

  1. Ali says:

    That is so true. It’s the little things in life that matter the most. It is so easy to take things for granted and not miss things till they’re gone. Sending healing wishes for Angus ❤️ xx

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