Nearly four years ago today, my Chihuahua/Jack Russel mix, Luna, had a brush with death. I blogged about it then and am re-posting it now in honor of her passing. She died October 30th after a slow decline and then a sudden fall off a stairwell. Don’t mind the politics of the piece; what I was trying to convey was what a wonderful teacher Luna was for me that day and every day I had the honor of caring for her. In the photo below, she’s repaying all favors by writing my book for me. Now you know.
Our Global Heart, first published Nov 2008:
In the glorious aftermath of the 2008 presidential election, the Internet lit up with celebratory photographs. Images of weeping Australians, excited French, stylishly supportive Japanese, and, of course, Kenyans dancing in the streets made it obvious that something extraordinary had just happened the world over. If it was not previously apparent how connected we all are, it is now impossible to deny it.
At our house, Luna interpreted the events for us in dramatic fashion.
Here’s what happened: After finally turning off the Internet feed near midnight on election eve, we headed to the bedroom, exhausted, relieved, and deeply moved. Luna had been sleeping on Aaron’s pillow, but she got up when we turned on the light. The expression on her face was straight out of Harry Potter; she looked as if she’d been confunded. We got closer and realized that she was hyperventilating, too. Soon after, she started shivering uncontrollably.
Knowing that her heart was enlarged, I presumed that was where the trouble was. I asked Aaron if he thought we should take her to Emergency Animal Hospital, but, knowing how she shakes when we take her to the regular vet, we were loathe to do this. I threw the IChing coins and got ‘Obstruction,’ with a changing line instructing us to ‘make a womb’ and hunker down. Figuring that if it was Luna’s time to die she was better off with us, we did just that, wrapping our bodies on either side of her, soothing her with our close presence. All night, we listened to her ragged breathing. I dozed off a couple of times, only to start awake when a beat of silence replaced the expected in-breath.
By morning, her breathing was easier, though shallow. Dr. Hinko’s stethoscope revealed a heart murmur and the X-rays were stunning. Compared with the films taken two weeks ago, her heart was larger by nearly a full quarter. Apparently, her mitral valve had prolapsed and her heart had, basically, exploded.
Once we got her medication and brought her safely home, the metaphor had space to unfold. I asked myself what Luna could be trying to tell me and immediately realized that my heart had exploded, too, just a little before hers, at the exact moment when Obama told everybody that his victory was theirs and I knew it was true. Luna was illustrating on a literal scale what was happening all across the country, all across the globe: Here was hope and joy. And hearts were cracking open with the fullness of it.