an entirely different practice regarding the act of acceptance

Untitled by kari maxwell
Untitled, a photo by kari maxwell on Flickr.

So this is Stella.  And this is a picture of the two of us over 16 years ago.  We are pictured on a trail we used to walk on an almost-daily basis in Bozeman, Montana.  My friend, Shawna, took this picture.  I spoke with Shawna yesterday.  Shawna was actually the one, too, who went with me to finalize our adoption of this gal when all of this first began.

Now Ms. S (I occasionally refer to her as this out of the utmost respect and admiration) is getting older.  Who would have thought this chapter of our lives would have lasted (and is continuing to last) for this long?  

Stella has had many happy places over the course of her life.  She used to climb a mountain trail with me everyday when we lived in Montana.  She also used to go on 25 mile mountain bike rides with me on Saturday mornings.  Stella would accompany my husband to his work site out in the mountains too.  She would leave his whereabouts and explore all day only to come rest by his feet and nod off by about 3 pm.  Stella loved visiting Peter when he lived in the lodge near Mount Hood as a ski coach, coming and going as she pleased, being loved by all the camp participants.  She used to run and explore along the rims on a daily basis during her nine month stint with my Mom and Dad in Billings.  Stella adapted quite well to the city (and the leash) and enjoyed runs around golf courses (with my husband on roller blades).  We created our own sort of dog soccer at a neighborhood park.  Stella loved our Mississippi River walks - especially in the winter months with her cousin dog, JT.  About five or so years ago, she came to love the shores of Lake Superior.  

Now Stella usually just walks around the block with us twice a day.  Yesterday, she got up (not an easy task for a gal with stiff hips) and stood at the door waiting for this ritual once again. 

I would say that this week is the first week I have found it emotionally difficult to experience Ms. S's decline.  In fact, instead of experiencing it, I have to admit, there is a part of me that just wants it to end, NOW, before it gets too hard.  But that's me.  That's my fear.  This is my lack of acceptance.  I was reminded of this when I spoke with Shawna on the phone yesterday.  She said, "You just have a hospice unit in your home right now and that means making a few adjustments."  (on a different note and the topic for a completely different post, we have a 21 year old cat too)  I tell you the physical adjustments are easier than the emotional ones (but isn't that how it usually is anyway?)  At this point, I am just asking for a gentle experience for her with as little suffering as necessary.  Yes, I can remove myself from the equation, now, completely - hopefully.

Stella has been more than a pet.  She has been a member of our family who participated fully in our lifestyle and LOVED every minute of it.  Stella was the unconditional love and acceptance that always remained consistent when everything else was in chaos.  Stella knew (and occasionally still does know) how to experience JOY - the kind of joy that WE, as a family,  also appreciated noticing and sharing with her.  She has given and given 16 years and 8 months of service to us.  The least I can do is be of service to her NOW.

This won't be the last you'll be hearing about Stella.  There is no way I can sum up her life in this one post.  As my husband said the other night, "She will be with us forever."

ear wings 3 by kari maxwell

I want to start toasting Stella's beautiful life NOW rather than waiting until after she leaves us here.  
I can only ask for the proper strength to do this.

Bits and pieces of Stella and her life can be viewed here.


  1. Beautiful, beautiful. Love this post and learned some fun things I didn't know about Stella's amazing life. Holding gentle space for the entire family. Mwah!

    1. oh much love and much thanks. Ms. S sends her love and gratitude too!

  2. Go Stella -- hang in there guys. Much love to the three of you.

    1. Thank you, John. The end of an era is drawing upon us. Here's to the next!

  3. This is a beautiful story about Ms. Stella. You have given her a fantastic life! When she crosses the rainbow bridge she will be wagging her tail in pure joy & thanking you for allowing her to be loved in such a fabulous way. Maybe Cheyenne will great her & they will run & play in flower covered fields forever.

    1. I am extremely touched by this comment, Tiffiny. Thank you SO MUCH. I hope you'll send me a pic of Cheyenne. I would really LOVE to see...


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