In our profession we are in mid-season. Halfway through the school year. And yet, 2017 is seven days from closing down. We are, on a break, and the spirit of the New Year sits waiting.
For some, 2017 cannot end soon enough. For others 2018 is coming too soon. And, here we sit, in the “spirit of the season” with all of the gains and losses that 2017 represents.
The word spirit is derived directly from the Latin spiritus or “breath”. As in the breath of life. This December has been one of losing breath and gaining breath for our family. A spirit of sadness and a spirit of joy.
On Friday morning December 1st, our dog passed away. She was 12.5 years old and an incredible blend of comfort, fur ball, and fun. Her name was Kutya, an inside joke and tribute to the 8 years my wife spent in the Peace Corp and the place our youngest daughter was born. Kutya (pronounced “Cute Cha”) means dog in Hungarian.
She wasn’t all angel though. She had this way of eating the drywall off of an entire corner of a room when she was young. And she of course was seriously in love with any dirty sock and shoe. They did not last long if they were within her reach.
She slept by my side of the bed for as long as I can remember, and every morning when my feet hit the floor, she was there. She almost always helped me make my morning coffee and would sit by my side during those early morning moments of my quiet time before the crazy whirl of the day would begin. I eventually had to share her of course. She became the bed companion of our youngest daughter, and her best daily moments were in my wife’s office, sleeping in the sun, under her desk.
She began her life in the winters of Illinois and we had a long driveway. I did not want to get the paper each morning with it so cold outside. About two weeks after our morning lessons, at age 6 months she would go to the end of the driveway on her own, get the paper in her small mouth (in the beginning the paper was way bigger than her) and drag it into our house. Eventually she grew up and the act of the paper became a morning ritual with a big treat dangling at the end the kitchen table.
We eventually moved to California and her weird sense of humor would reveal itself in other ways. She was stealth dog. One minute she would be somewhere else in the house, and the next minute, with no advanced warning, there she was at the base of your feet. And you had no idea how she got there.
We would use a yoga mat to stretch after a workout, and she would sit on half of the mat, while you are lying down doing your stretching and just look at you as if to say, move over, this is my mat too!
We took a family picture at the holiday a few years ago. Of course, in the picture she is sticking out her tongue – and that is something she never did. Never. This was her way of breathing her spirit into life with you.
My wife, Susan and I have known deep grief in our lives. We are not foreign to its feelings or immune from its hurt. And this one hurt. As we held her in our collective arms and she just had nothing left to give us, our tears and the depth of our pain surprised us both. Intellectually we new 13 years ago, this day would come. Emotionally you cannot prepare for it. So, there is this big hole in our hearts. Her spirit and comfort is not easily replaced. That unconditional surrender to love that was in her breath, her spirit is now gone.
And then, on December 19th, 2017 along comes Abigail Rose. Our first grandchild and the child of our oldest daughter. Taking her first breath as her spirit filled the room. In a flash of a moment she fulfills the promise of the spirits, the souls, we lost. She represents a spirit of generations to come. Yes she does.
As does every child we are privileged to teach.
Who are the spirits in your season, this season? Treasure them in 2018. and may we know the best of your spirit too.
Happy Holidays to All!