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Pressure system…

September 29, 2010

As you touch the lace scarves you notice a gentle halo lightly framing the stitches,

adding a dimension of luxury not quite like anything you’ve ever seen…

Softer than merino,

finer than cashmere,

lighter than silk,

the fiber you are touching is qiviut,

the down of a musk ox…

— in Arctic Lace by Donna Druchunas

Four years ago I had to make the decision,

to euthanize my dog…

What started out as a cough,

and a persistent gag reflex,

the year before,

turned into laryngeal paralysis,

and anxiety attacks,

precipitated by the anticipation of separation,

from me…

It wasn’t an easy decision to make,

or to convince others that it was necessary,

and urgent,

as every attack,

was an experience of suffocation,

and had the potential to kill…

When your dog is telling you he’s done what he came here to do,

in his fur suit,

and now it’s time to go,

and he wants you to remember him big,

and strong,

you have to listen,

and help move things along,

in any way you can…

It isn’t optional…

It’s part of the agreement,

made in another place and time…

A couple of years ago my mother showed up on my front porch,

without a standing,



Bringing a stranger along for leverage…

She told me,

all coiled up and hissing,

This is Doris…

Oma’s old neighbour…

I want you in my life…

And I want you to bring the girls out to see me before Doris goes back,

to Germany…

You have until next week…

I’ve met Doris twice at the most,

on the way up the stairs to my Oma’s apartment,

ten or twenty years ago,

in the province of Swabia…

My children have no interest in duty,

or obligatory visits,

and I’ve made a pact with myself never to force them,

into anything—

even a walk in the woods…

My mother is a very smart woman…

She’s always had my number,

and known exactly which tapes,

to play with me,

to get what she wants…

My new formula,

with dander control,

took her by surprise…

Doris got the message immediately…

She knew she’d never see me again,

and I didn’t have to say a word…

It hasn’t been easy,

but after decades of being told that I am the one who needs help—

that she and I would have a better relationship,

if I improved myself—

because I have issues that need eliminating,

I finally found my voice,

to say,

I’m sorry,

but I am no longer available,

for feeding…

People don’t like it when you pinch the oxygen line,

and make moves to cut off the supply…

It can make them crazy…

But if you’ve been able,

to birth a child,

or two,

right out of your body,

you sure as hell,

should be able to breathe on your own…

Some people clearly need to be shocked into it,

by the unexpected…

People argue about which came first,

the chicken or the egg…

But when it comes to the umbilical cord,

there’s a reason why it runs from the placenta to the baby,

and not the other way around—

taking what was never yours…

It is my belief that we choose how we come in,

and we choose how we go out…

We can drag it on,

and make others suffer along with us,

or we can be a joy,

to behold,

even on our deathbed…

I used to attend an Iyengar yoga class in my neighbourhood…

After a lifetime of healthy living,

and breathing from the belly,

the teacher died of a brain tumor…

I didn’t witness any of the stages of her passing,

but what I heard from those who did,

is that she was a teacher until the very end…

Even with a terminal sentence,

she set an example,

for her people,

in how to live,

and how to die,

with grace…

I spent the morning at Starshine and Little Gem’s school,

helping out with the Terry Fox Run…

While the primary children were doing their warm-up exercises,

to happy,

shiny music,

before running circles around the field,

a mother,

who I barely know,

came to stand beside me…

She said,

This always makes me cry…

It’s the purity of their hearts that gets me,

every time…

And you’re the only one I can tell…

Then after she’d had her little cry,

behind her large sunglasses,

she turned to me,


Thank you for being there for me,

and joined in on the jumping jacks….

We finally found a moment to call our own...

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