Best laid plans

I love to plan. It’s like cleaning a bedroom closet or the fridge; while I dread the getting-started-phase feeling overwhelmed by the task at hand, once I get started, I’m energized by the process, and the end result: Efficiency. Tidiness. Everything in its place. Control.  

I have the large-scale Rand McNally Road Atlas on my left and in front, the vista of Redondo Beach Marina, the rocky fortress break wall and the congested blur of Hermosa Beach. Trusty, sweet, beloved, and very sick Monet is on the carpet next to me. 

A few days ago, I pledged not to worry, be happy. I’ve been faithful to that intention. Every time worry crept into my brain, I washed it away with a glass of water, stretching—whatever I could do—to re-direct toxic thoughts. It worked! I found myself less furrow-browed and more open. Skipping, almost. The weight of the world lifted from my shoulders. 

Oh my gosh, is that a sign? 

A sailboat named “Life is Good” with a smiley face tattooed to the starboard just glided past. And it surely is: A Good Friday. I’m here with a second cup of strong, organic coffee. It’s quiet. I’m writing. I’ll be swimming in a couple of hours, then walking with a friend, picking up my grandson after school, and Monet is here, she’s still here. 

Monet’s ill health is testing me and my Don’t Worry pledge. Because I see her slowing down, moving with more caution, having accidents because one of the tumors is pressing against her bladder. It sucks. And sucks and sucks. It’s incredibly challenging not to worry. And it’s really hard to plan my future because what matters to me right now is making sure I’m a good parent, helping my dog daughter feel calm, loved and secure.

My girl and I sleep next to each other on the living room floor,. I have a twin size camp mattress that I’ve laid out next to her special foam bed. At night, I touch her face or shoulders so she knows I’m there. I can hear her breathing, with an occasional muffled yip and wonder, “What do you dream about, Monet?” Running along Cambria’s glistening beach, sneaking crab shell treats when you think I’m not looking, dancing in the waves, fetching sticks? Or do you dream about the backyard at the old house, the place you did acrobatic tricks when you were young? Do you remember our walks along Twin Lakes in Bridgeport last Fall? Do you how much your mommy cherishes you for being your persnickety, teeth-growling self?

I love this smart, sensitive, maligned dog so much. She saved my heart when we met 13.5 years ago, and she’s breaking it now. We don’t have a lot of time left. I do my best not to worry. But it’s hard. Because I don’t want her to suffer. And I wonder when, and what, and will I know, but I don’t want to, but I must. 

This is LIFE condensed.

Like a fist that resists opening.

I skip through the days snapping photos, planning, adventuring, allowing minutia to snag me into its frayed chokehold; ignoring the gift of companionship. Like right now; sweet Monet on “our” bed, her freckled fur blending into the fuzzy grey comforter, curled up, feeling safe and loved, not worrying, being present with her breath, in and out, in and out, as I close the 2023 road map and lay down next to my sweet friend.

Best laid plans aren’t best. Because one can never fully prepare. For the unexpected. The twist. The shatter. Impending loss. I try. But it’s a fool’s game. Distracting. Wasteful. All roads leading to eventual regret. Because in planning, looking forward instead of up close, I miss The Point, the elixir, the antidote to worry: Love.

Today, tomorrow too, that’s my plan; to love as much as I can, for as long as I can. With a little help from friends and family, my palette of paints, stacks of books, sunsets, a tune or two and poetry by the beloved Mary Oliver, Life IZ Good.

What Gorgeous Thing

I do not know what gorgeous thing

the bluebird keeps saying,

his voice easing out of his throat,

beak, body into the pink air

of the early morning. I like it

whatever it is. Sometimes.

it seems the only thing in the world

that is without dark thoughts,

Sometimes it seems the only thing

in the world that is without

questions that can’t and probably

never will be answered, the

only thing that is entirely content

with the pink, then clear white

morning and, gratefully, says so.

3 Comments on “Best laid plans

  1. Oh, Janet! The photo of Monet right at the top already had me going. I can see he’s not in the prime of his life…even though being with you IS the prime of his life. What a sad, happy, human description this is of you and your dear partner of many years. It brings to mind the times we’ve lost various cats. Parts of the family! Not to be dismissed or taken lightly. And yes, Mary Oliver can help us get through. Just think of her beloved Percy.

    Liked by 1 person

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