Many more times than I can count, I have tried in my way to save various creatures in dire circumstances. Baby mice when mom was poisoned somewhere. Baby birds after a cat knocked their nest to the ground. Cats hit by cars. Dogs hit by cars. Birds of all sizes careening into windows. Even a porcupine who fell forty feet out of a hemlock tree. Raptors I’ve taken to wildlife rehab centers.

It’s tough putting a good friend down after a long and eventful life. But I’m not into prolonging suffering in animals just to delay my own grief. I’d rather they exit this life feeling the wind in their noses rather than in a state of drug-induced confusion. I’d rather death be coupled with dignity, and that extends to my human brothers and sisters as well. That being said, I long ago made a pact with heaven and earth to face what the gods put in my path as open-eyed as possible so I could always say, “Well met.” Win, lose or draw, I would do my best to confront life on its terms rather than to always insist the ground rules be mine.

It has been five years since a bike ride brought me Lucy, our little foundling dog left by the side of the highway to suffer after being sideswiped by a car. Lifting her head into my cupped hands and gazing into her eyes told me she wanted to live, and I’ve come to trust the wisdom in animals’ eyes. They do give up when they sense they’re done for. Fears, regrets and unresolved issues do not cloud their thinking. That first month demanded absolute immobility. X-rays confirmed a triple fracture in her last large vertebra prior to the smaller discs of the tail. A sharp piece of bone was poised to sever the spinal cord. Over that month, I massaged her and manipulated her body to align the spine to a natural curve. I covered a thick foam mat with plastic and bedding. Every day to her great distress, the bedding was wet and feces-stained. On the advice of the vet and to my own daily dismay, I scooped poop out of her with gloved fingers. After the second week, she could lie in the sun and the other bigger dogs did not bother her. She usually relieved her bladder in this way. After a month, she would scoot along the ground and defecate. Then she stood. Then she walked. Yet with each milestone, we recommitted to detachment from outcome. This little dog would live or she would die, but we would give her the most even chance we were able. Then another x-ray revealed that sharp bone fragment being resorbed by the body. “Miracle!” the vet exclaimed, and miracle it was.

What do we do when time and again we are faced with adversity? It’s tempting to move away from probable defeat in order to avoid pain and disappointment. Expectations can bring so much misery, they make cowards out of the most noble hearted among us. In the end it may seem easier to simply give up. But I look at life like this: if I confront what it brings me rather than floundering in fruitless manipulations, it seems to enrich my experience while deepening my interactions with others. It bolsters my courage in moving forward.

Lucy Milagro is indeed a lucky dog and we are blessed to count her among the living. She runs, plays and roughhouses with only occasional discomfort. And she healed much better and more completely than any of us could have imagined. It was a little messy in the beginning, but what in life isn’t? We experience birth in a slime of mucus and blood, shower to shed our daily detritus and then one day return to the earth as compost for the living. Meanwhile someone or something else is being born.

2016-01-31 03.15.08

26 thoughts on “Miracle

  1. Bela,
    Lucy is a very lucky dog. It’s good you two crossed paths. I thought of you yesterday when I had to capture and release a hummingbird that flew into the open door of my greenhouse. I continue to marvel at what an unlikely miracle a hummingbird is.
    Mary Lee

    1. Aloha, ML, long time no hear from! Glad it was to mention your hummingbird story. They truly Are miracles, and I am sad we don’t have any on these islands. I miss their gossamer presence, their thrumming energy. Enjoy your summer, brief though it might be! And hope you’re still enjoying life on the coast ❤

  2. Dear Bela,
    What dedication, what love and devotion you showed Lucy and I am sure she truly loves and is devoted to you back.
    Animals are resilient creatures . Who live in the Now of their lives. And we all could do well to take a leaf out of their books..

    Our own healing is often blocked as we hold onto those unseen wounds..

    Like you I know too our Animals would sooner go home than suffer and why we humans prolong suffering of other humans often is beyond me.. Sigh. But through our own ignorance we think we know best..

    I have had to have 3 of my own Pets put to sleep, because their quality of life was no more, and they told me in their own ways it was time to return home..

    Wonderful that you have rescued so many. Thank you for sharing this with us.. You have a beautiful heart Bela..
    Love Sue ❤

  3. Oh!! Beautiful Lucy…beautiful YOU!! The first 7 years of my life animals were my only friends! I’m so happy Lucy had such a kind soul to take her in and nurse her back to health. I love your vibe…your energy…and your outlook on life, Bella. Sending much love to you right now!!! ❤

    1. Lorrie, you are too kind. Yes, I, too befriended animals early on in life – they were trustworthy, at least. And great companions, too. I appreciate very much that you enjoy some of my posts. And of course I receive your love with gratitude. Blessings and love right back atcha! ❤

  4. Hi Bela, you are so kind…very few people care to look at the helpless and the injured. There can be no greater compassion than this. In this insensitive world, where people don’t care for innocent lives, where senseless killings are so disheartening, few bright streaks of light seem heavenly. Bless you dear friend 🙂

    1. Balroop, thank you for your lovely bestowal of blessings. I have always bonded to animals since I was quite small, begging my father to help me rescue baby mice and birds knocked out of trees. I never thought much about it; it has only been since writing down memories of my life that I have paused to reflect on all the creatures I have laid hands upon. I used to take it so hard when they didn’t make it, but I now look upon that little girl with a smile. She did the best she could! Aloha, dear one. ❤

  5. Lucy really is quite beautiful, and just looking into her eyes – as you did on first encounter – seems to reveal so much about her. She is a person, and who could deny it, if so, upon what basis? Species neither separate nor elevate, nor ought they narrow the circle of our compassion; only ignorance does – in the sense of ‘ignoring’ what could otherwise be seen with attentive eyes. I am so very touched by your attitude, dear Bela, and if the religious are right, and there are other worlds, then you deserve your place in the highest of them, truly you do. If there are no other worlds, then this one has been blessed by your presence. H ❤

    1. Hariod, you humble me, truly. I have simply done what I’ve always done, only this time it worked! So gratifying, after many failures. The gods smiled on me with this one 😉 You are correct in deducing Lucy to be a person; she is one of the smartest, most communicative creatures we have ever known. She is well aware we speak to her in images and she does the same with us! She is truly a gift to all she allows ‘in.’ Beyond that, how I got so lucky as to have you in my WordPress community, I’ll never know. Much love and Aloha to you, dear one!

  6. I am sighting your miracle only now, Bela, in the many stories of your kindness to animals. The spirit to serve and sustain shows a loving and compassionate mind depicted in your acts of kindness respecting the sanctity of life. Instead of compliments of aloha and mahalo, may I greet you with ‘namaste’ (Indian greeting addressed with folded hands to another; the Sanskrit word means ‘I salute the divinity in you’).

    1. Namaste, Raj – you are kind, and thank you very much.

      I am not sure if you know the essence of Aloha – many do not. We first lived on the island of Moloka’i 25 years ago, stayed 2 years, then returned to the mainland US for the girls to finish school. We returned again to these islands 10 years ago. During our time on Moloka’i, we learned much from the people there, not the least of which was to honor the spirits of the land and sea, to greet others with humility and to embrace another culture without judgment.

      Now we live in a treasured community on the Big Island which embodies the spirit of Aloha (hard to find these days, with many moving here and changing the face of these islands). I thought I’d share this with you, for it speaks to the heart and soul of Aloha. Wishing you and yours a peaceful, enriching end to your week! http://www.huna.org/html/deeper.html

  7. Thanks very much, Bela, for the detailed input on Aloha. I have, from other sources, known a little of this beautiful Hawaiian greeting; however, your input puts it across in all its nuances. Aloha and Namaste…

      1. “Like a bird on the wire
        Like a drunk in a midnight choir
        I have tried in my way to be free”

        from Leonard Cohen’s “Bird On The Wire”.

        “There’s seven people dead
        On a South Dakota farm
        There’s seven people dead
        On a South Dakota farm
        Somewheres in the distance
        There’s seven new people born”

        from Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of Hollis Brown “.

        I hope this clarifies things. Sorry, I didn’t intend to be abstruse. 🙂

      2. Oh, mahalo for clarifying. I’m familiar with both artists, of course, but didn’t plagiarize, so wasn’t sure about what you meant. It’s funny, isn’t it – when we have a lyric in our head, it’s almost easy to presume another knows just what we’re thinking of 😉 Thanks, BN ❤

      3. Please don’t think I thought or was implying that you were or might be plagiarising I simply saw/heard the connections as I read your post. I always did have an avid interest in the lyrics of the best (IMHO) song writers/poets. Folk like Dylan and Cohen helped to break down the (artificial) barrier between ballad and poetry, created around the same time as the self-importance that gave birth to Descartes and Newton. Is there yet a chance to renege and renounce this murderous onslaught that has led humanity to the Trump of Doom?

      4. Oh, no worries – no implications, just stating the fact, straight-up. And agreed on these two artists, for sure. I miss that era of music. Along with losing the deeply meaningful poetic artistry in songs of those times, much of today’s music reflects, at least to me, a more superficial relationship with the nation’s psyche. The term ‘news cycle’ wasn’t around back then; as in, ‘just wait it out – it will vanish with the next news cycle.’ I don’t know if this is the result of information overload or global crises or whatever – likely a combination of many issues the plague the world today. I think Trump is symptomatic of these times – people’s fascination with being entertained at the expense of having to think at all. But as I never liked clowns or artifice, it’s enormously distressing to me that just because stupid has replaced slapstick doesn’t earn it a place in the nation’s highest office. It’s as disturbing to me as anything gets, these days. Aloha, BN, and be well!

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