Zoe, my 5 lb. Yorkie, was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure in February 2007. The news rendered my heart in two. These little ones are usually gone, once diagnosed, within a few months. I realized that we were living on borrowed time and I was prepared for her eventual passing.
What I wasn’t prepared for was her running away. I had decided to leave her at home while I went to Tai Chi. When I arrived home shortly after 9 pm, I found my boarder, Mitch, in the middle of the road, his arms flailing the air. Apparently when he had let her out, Zoe had made a run for it.
I called out for a bit while a raw dread grew in the pit of my stomach. Within 10 minutes, my angst had spawned a deep sense of terror. My mind’s eye was imagining her terror, as she ran blindly from some unfamiliar shrub to perhaps a long, dark stretch of cold and terrifying back alley. I could also see her on a stranger’s front porch, shivering quietly while she waited to be let in. She wouldn’t bark or scratch – it wasn’t her way. She would just quietly freeze there. Perhaps an owl spotted her and hopefully killed her quickly without too much pain. These images stalked me and then, one by one, invaded my mind, over and over again.
I half walked, half ran around the adjacent blocks lickety-split. By 9:30 pm, I returned home and called three friends who live nearby. I’m not even sure what I wanted from them. Peggy, Diane and Alan said that they’d be right over.
Somewhere around that time I began to pray. I prayed for angels to guide and protect my tiny, helpless sweetheart. I prayed for a miracle.
By 10 pm, we had a search team with a couple of neighbours, along with Mitch, pitching in. Some were on foot; some were in their cars with lights to shine in dark corners. In my beleaguered state, I stayed in front of the house. The thin plan was to not only coordinate the effort but also to call out to Zoe, in case she just needed the sound of my voice for direction.
It got increasingly colder as the minutes ticked by. I wept openly and shamelessly in front of my house and repeatedly called out her name. Eventually, the neighbours drifted off. I called a stop to the search at about 11 pm. Dear Diane gave me a big hug and sadly went home. Peggy took both of my hands in hers and prayed aloud for Zoe’s safe return. When she left, Alan refused to give up scouring the area. I went inside but left the front door open a bit so that she could push her little nose into the crack and get through to warmth and safety.
Alan came back around midnight and I closed the door gently behind him. We sat on the couch in a stunned silence. When I glimpsed any of my sickening fears, I cried anew. My tears and little despair noises were quieter now and they came in spurts. But I was mostly holding my breath, in hopes of good news in the morning. Alan refused to go home and stayed the night. By 3 a.m. I passed out.
The bare morning inevitably came. At 7 a.m. I made posters and emailed everyone I knew, asking for prayers. I called the Pound with the details, along with my cell phone number. By the time the posters were up around the area, it was already 1 p.m. I received a couple of phone calls from empathetic dear ones, offering their sincere support. Yet still, Zoe was gone.
When the cell phone rang, my heart lodged squarely in my throat. It was the SPCA. When I turned to Alan and said, “She’s found,” his relief spilled over onto his face as a great grin wiped away the aging years from the previous night. We could breathe again, knowing that she was safe and sound.
I discovered that a tender-hearted homeless man had picked up Zoe early in the ordeal and had put her in his coat to keep warm; miracle one. A woman approached him, inquiring about the dog. When the woman remarked that she should be with her family, he promptly handed her my treasure; miracle two. The kind woman subsequently called the SPCA; miracle three. It would appear that the angels were very busy that night. Naturally, the loving hearts at the SPCA are also part of the circle of miracles that brought Zoe back into my arms.
Once my blood pressure was no longer through the stratosphere, I wondered about how traumatic this tour of hell had been for me. I realized that it smacked of my personal “holocaust” of the divorce (from 6 years ago) and all that I had lost. Scratch that. I meant to say all that I had let go of – my marriage that was “supposed to” last well into the next lifetime, my other vital heart connections that provided my life with meaning, my beautiful house with the 180 degree view of the ocean, my respectable position in society as a business owner, my comfortable sense of financial security, my earthly focus and ultimate exit strategy, and (for a stint) my sanity. Once that world was flattened, my life became a network of uncertainty. I lived by my wits and the seat of my pants.
At this point, I am that much older (and wiser) and have secured a toehold on my finances and other affairs. Yet the sudden, shocking loss of Zoe slingshotted me back to that quagmire of loss, fear and aloneness. Isn’t it odd how revisiting grief can bring us to our knees in a heartbeat? Why is it so hard to surrender to the now? In that stark spotlight, I was very aware of how precarious my toehold really was. The upside was a realization that I had to get busy and find my community of like minded “outside the box-ers.” I had to curb my endless volunteering and focus on establishing a stronger personal platform of financial, physical, emotional and psychological wellness. And I had to realign with Source on an even deeper level.
For now, I am so very thankful to everyone, angels and humans alike, who played a part in Zoe’s happy-ending story. I treasure every blessed moment that I have with her. And when it is her natural time to pass, I will be beside her.
Helena Green – Writer, Life Skills & Spirituality Coach, Ritualist and Health Management Facilitator.