Sunday, May 22, 2005

Puppy Love

Last week I finished Hospice volunteer training. There was an exercise we did in our last class that really struck home. The purpose of it was to give us even a slight idea of how it feels to have our life become limited, to understand how our patient could feel.

We were asked us to list ten things that we really enjoy doing in our lives. Then having written these down, we were informed that we had become disabled and had to cross off three of them because we could no longer do them. Then further disability and cross off three more, and finally cross off all of the things we love to do. I found I was hanging on to appreciating animals and nature to the very end, and had even selected a black stuffed animal from the basket she passed around because it looked so much like my adorable dog Ebony.

The next day I had my first hospice patient to visit, a little lady in a nursing home. She had some dementia, and was brought to me in a wheelchair with a bright afghan over her, and a stuffed animal puppy dog peeking out from under the covers. She patted the dog and reassured him that he was a good boy and not to be afraid many times during our visit.

I thought, Wow, for her this little dog is just like my Ebony. What a huge gap between living a free life as I do, loving real people and animals, managing my own home, driving wherever I want to go, and this world of wheelchair, afghan, stuffed animal, and nursing home. And yet in her own way this lady is weaving a life, is expressing love, is combining the external story of my visit with the internal story of her companionship with this dog. How endlessly creative the human mind is, how comfort can be found in so many ways. I take a deep breath and stretch to appreciate it all.

gg murray 5/22/05

Saturday, May 21, 2005


Abundance is a feeling:
I lead a rich inner life.

I companion with poems, raindrops,
and the sunlight of your smile.

Around me blooms the evidence
of God's all-knowing love
and I say yes to it and yes again
and thank you thank you thank you.

gg murray 5/21/05

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Muse Morning Commute

The muse is a terror and a tease.
It makes me take up pen,
forsake my ease,
and face my demons
and my dreams.

It knows no boundaries, this muse of mine,
cares not for schedules,
not even dinner time,
but pulls me from within:
relentless living stream.

I pull my car to the side of the road,
take up pen,
don’t even put my glasses on
but listen listen listen

gg murray 8/30/99

The Bachelor

I generally click right past reality TV shows, finding my own life quite fascinating enough. But last night I gave in to curiosity and watched the final night of ‘The Bachelor’, having seen none of the previous episodes. It was down to the bachelor and two very attractive women who loved him. One a Rhode Island girl, and the other, a purposeful gal from Texas.

This bachelor struck me as an honorable guy. Open, affectionate, confused, wanting to make the right choice, hating to have to cause pain to the one he would ultimately reject. If it were up to me, I’d have chosen the RI girl, hands down. But he chose the Texas girl, perhaps because she expected more of him, and he liked that.

Yet the Rhode Island girl showed such courage and dignity. She had outgrown her negative self-image and could genuinely thank him for helping her realize she deserved a very good man. She liked the other girl, and wished them both the very best.

The bachelor meanwhile is still holding the cards, still taking his time. He gave a ‘friendship’ ring to the Texas girl, offering her his love and all the time they need to get to know each other and begin building toward the future. It was an offer of a road leading to marriage, a wise thing for him to do. She popped the ring on her right hand.

Winners and losers? Men who watched this program may have learned a thing or two from this bachelor about how to express honest, complex, and conflicting feelings. He was a good role model for that. He managed to steer a course through the extreme minefields of celebrity, media exposure, and incredible pressure to conform to other people’s scenarios.

Although the Texas girl got her man, she got him on his terms, so much remains to be seen. Now they get to work out their relationship like the rest of us.

I think the real winner is the Rhode Island girl, who grew in confidence and self-respect from this experience. Whoever this woman eventually chooses will be a lucky man indeed.

gg murray 5/17/05

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Abortion Story

In a previous blog posting 'On Being Pro-Life and Pro-Choice', I described the conclusions I came to after my own abortion. Since writing that piece I realize an important part is missing - the powerful experience I had at the time of the abortion itself that led me to those conclusions. So here it is.

I was 29, with a lovely four year old daughter from a previous marriage, and living with my boyfriend under very unstable conditions. I was not glad to be pregnant. My boyfriend was not interested in being a father and threatened to leave. I instinctively knew that bringing a child into this situation would be too difficult for me to bear, especially since the responsibility would almost certainly all fall on me.

I can understand how some young women might allow a pregnancy to happen in the hopes that it might stimulate a change of heart in their boyfriends. But to me that is a fantasy, and raising a real child takes more courage and stamina and love than anyone can imagine.

Being a practical person, I resolved to handle the situation myself. I contacted my local Planned Parenthood office and made arrangements to go to New York for an abortion. I would have gone to the moon if I had to. I am not one to waffle over life-and-death issues. I had a child to raise, a career to restart, a home to build, a life to get back on track. And although this relationship continued for a few more years, for me it started to die right then. If you can't trust someone in such a basic way, nature takes over. You harden your heart and move on.

We drove to New York and found the clinic. My boyfriend stayed in the waiting room throughout the procedure. I have often thought that this was a missed opportunity for the clinic since no one spoke to him. Men need to know how serious this emotional breach of faith is. They need to have good advice about how to support the woman, the relationship, and how to prevent future pregnancies. For men who don't want children at all, this would be a good time for a vasectomy. I see no reason why the woman's body should bear all the burden of birth control.

Meanwhile, in another room I lay on a table. The doctor inserted an instrument into my body. There was a whirring sound, some pain and cramping. But just then, the most amazing experience happened that I have been unable to forget, over thirty years later.

I felt the distinct sensation of the spirit of the baby pass right over me. It felt like it was saying Hello and Goodbye at the same time. It felt like compassion, no harm, just this beautiful sensation of a being I would never get to know. I felt a spasm of grief for this one I would never know, a precious missed opportunity, and yet the overwhelming feeling was compassion shared between us. Two souls touching - and moving on in different directions.

I collected myself and went on with my life. A good life, and I have no regrets. We all have to make choices every day, and each choice no matter how small is a branching in the road of life, leading us to still more choices. I think that's why we're here- for the best choices we can make, for the best love we can offer, the best truth we can live.

This is how I know that a pregnancy is a life, no matter how small or undeveloped that physical being is. It is a soul, offering to be with us. We may not be ready to receive it. Sometimes we must say no. Yet life itself is so abundant, it offers itself continually, in countless new ways. And whenever I can say Yes to life, I do it, and mean it with my whole heart.

gg murray 5/7/05

Update on Bo

For those who may be wondering how our dog Bo (written about in an earlier blog 'Winding Down') is doing, here is an update.

He seems to have stabilized. He is hanging around more, playing, eating, and wrestling with his dog mate, young Ebony. He still has the tumor under his left arm, but he is going about his life. We love him for that, and for simply being who he is.

Now he brings out more tenderness in us, and we take time to appreciate him more. Since gratitude and appreciation are two of the best healing qualities for humans to feel, I have to wonder who is healing who.

gg murray 5/8/05

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

What day is it?

This morning I strain to know
what day it is,
and finally speak, Tuesday
May third
in the year two thousand and five:
a small cage
thrown over this day.
But what day is it for the tree bark?
the earth crust?
the frog egg swelling in the pond?
What day is it in the dream world
I just emerged from?
And what day would the baby leaves answer
unfurled to their first rays of sun?
What day indeed but this day,
magical pulsing being of a day
into which I just now come.

gg murray

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Winnipesaukee Dream

There is a path through the tall pines
fragrant carpet soft underfoot
where sunlight filters through
leading down to a shining lake.

Huge boulders lie like elephants
in the sparkling water
waiting for a child to ride them.

The warm rock loves
the feel of your skin,
your soft child bones
mold to the stone,
and the lap-lap of wavelets
soothes you into sleep.

gg murray 5/1/05