Last night I found out that one of my childhood pets, a beloved (and very high maintenance) cat named Junior, is very sick-- and probably nearing the end of his life. The poor guy has had failing health for a few years now, but apparently has taken a turn for the worse in the last two or three days. I remember driving down to the petstore to pick him out when I was 7 or 8. The two criteria my mom gave us was that we had to pick a female (we already had a male cat) and it couldn't have dirty ears. Junior failed both criteria, but he was one of the most extroverted cats out there and very very cute. So apparently, Junior is dying.
I decided to drive over this morning-- sans kids-- to say goodbye, should this actually be the end for him. Lately, between minding the kids and the fact that my parents are working on their house, I don't usually go down to the basement where the cats live to see them. So I left the house as soon as I got up (we all accidentally slept in until 8... which is a near miracle with two small kids in the house!), ventured out into the rain and started my rush-hour trek to my parent's house. I had a quick visit with Junior-- who is still purring and walking around, but definitely a shadow of his former self-- and then helped my mom drive him over to the vet. It was a sad morning. Our two cats, who moved with us from one house to another throughout our childhood, are one of the more stable remnants of my childhood. As long as they were in a house, it sort of felt like home.
As I was driving home, every road seemed to be stopped up-- even on the back roads I was taking. It was crazy slow, and I was rushing home to take over on baby duty so Ben could go to work. I had one of those moments when I realized that I was totally out of control, and my increasing stress levels were not going to make the cars move faster. And I remembered a little mantra that I read in a book the other day. It goes like this:
(inhaling) I am a feather
(exhaling) on the divine breath.
And amid the rain, traffic, feeling of loss, it actually sort of worked. If I stopped it, it took only a minute or two for me to return to my stressed state, but as long as I was present and breathing, it worked.
Now, I just need to bring that centering to more complicated situations-- like when you are in the store with a crying newborn and tantruming two year old (which, incidentally, happened to me only a few hours later). But I'll take the baby steps.