For days I have been intending to write a post on expansion and contraction. Expansion and contraction in sitting hospice, in trying to work while life challenges with grief, in trying to watch 60 movies in 90 days in order to prepare for a writing seminar in October. This post is a little expansion. Enough of an expansion to write something. Now sleep brings contraction. It is 11:59 pm. The contraction of the day. More expansion tomorrow.


Although I have stumbled through work the past few weeks, I am behind. Although I have been in contact with a few people, exhaustion arises when I think about catching up on work and social life. I am behind on catching up because 24 hours before Boris fell ill, the months-long season of the huge family wedding ended. So I have had two almost overlapping all-encompassing events. Now the job is to return to the same job, to the same requirements of daily living that I had asked of myself before. In the past, this kind of readjustment resulted in a crash, even in depression. I am trying not to let that happen. I am trying to reign in the descent and meet the challenge of watching each step. It is an attempt to walk and stay on the path of the middle way. It involves trying for compassion, for acceptance of self, for believing that every moment is perfect. Perfect even when it feels like this moment, this one now.

Storms ripped through the metro area again last night.  When the tornado sirens went off, the folks on the television said that a storm with 75 to 80 mph straight-line winds were 7 miles away and traveling at 55 mph. I wrapped Boris in a fluffy bath towel and we sat in the basement for 15 minutes listening to the wind.  

Yep Boris. Boris is still with me. He tempted the fates then pushed them back. I am not sure that I am sitting hospice any more. I know that I am the one who named it hospice. I am the one who was sure that the end, the state so prominent in the definition, was within hours or days. Armed with needles, syringes, medicines, tuna laced water, I tended and grieved and exhausted myself. I lived the definition of hospice. Boris, not quite. At least not in the time line I had assumed. 

I have heard that the definition of hospice does not imply an end. It implies the beginning of another state. It has no time line, no time limit. It circles, it holds still. I know this. I knew this before, but this time, I was so sure. 

Although the grieving has lifted with his spirits and his ability to eat and drink and walk and sleep in his bed on the radiator in front of the picture window, all of this defining goes back to the issue of how labeling something can subtly or drastically change how we live in the moment.  

Through the past few weeks, I tried my damnedest to live in the moment. I will never know how much the labeling of hospice brought up the stories and traumas that have taken place over the last 20 years. How maybe working through my past trauma may have been the perfect activity for the moment. How this moment of clarity and this morning of sleeping in may be perfect.

What does one do when one is in the middle of not knowing, of not knowing what is next, of maybe being down or depressed? One accepts that this is the moment. One accepts that even if this feels like shit, that shit passes, that the moment passes, that this is what mediation teaches us. During a day of virtually impossible concentration. During a day where any set of specific plans for the future seem out of reach, just know, just remind oneself that all passes. Tomorrow is another day. A new day. Each day, new. Each moment, like a new day. Good night.

Boris the beautiful kitty is still alive; testimony to the unrelenting tide of change and more evidence that each wave brings uncertainty. It is wait and see now. The infection is under control. It is the wait until it is time to test the kidney function numbers next week stage. We are both sleeping through the night again. I can better concentrate on work, but the air still feels different. This state may continue for weeks or months. I am unsure how I will make the decisions that in the end I must make. I can only trust that in time, each decision will become apparent. For now I can tend without worry. It is OK. I can tend without worry.

One form of meditation is to notice the blank spots instead of the activity. One phase in meditation changing your life is noticing that in any change we have two lives, the old and the new. The two lives take time to merge. In the middle time, we live them both alternately and simultaneously.

I am trying to live in the moment. At the same time, I cannot help myself from noticing what will be missing when sitting hospice is over. Boris is feeling well tonight. He climbed up on my bed and went to sleep on my pillow an hour before I decided to go to bed. What has been common, automatic, and unconscious all these years, I am now noticing just because it is there. I notice it is there because it was not there on Friday, or Saturday, or Sunday night. I am noticing it is there because his past and future absence feels close enough to create an aura and color the experience. It is not wrong. It is not right. It just is. It is just different from last week, last month, last year. Where I have always let him wander and do whatever he wants. I now notice his every move. I also notice when I stop noticing his every move, when the absence moves.

I figure that if I was a totally enlightened being, I could truly live in the moment. My guess is that I would be able to experience every moment of his and my life without the aura of past and future bleeding over into the experience or interpretation. Ah well, I just haven’t gotten that far yet.

I am forgetting to eat. Boris is not eating. I am using a syringe to squirt water into his mouth every hour. He doesn’t mind it, and I think it makes him more comfortable.  

For both of us, all of the attention of which we are capable has consumed us here. I have more ability to pay attention that he does. Relationships are paying attention. Living together is regular and sustained paying attention. Paying attention is meditation. We have been paying attention for over 19 years.  I notice when we are attached. We move to detached. The detachment allows us to focus out do our work, pay attention to ourselves, pay attention to others outside us.

I need to focus out and pay more attention to myself. I need to start eating again. I have no one here to remind me.  Those of us who are single have less of the benefit of being someone else’s meditation, of someone else knowing the little pieces without much talking. With a beautiful being like Boris in the house, we get the warmth of appreciation for what we do, but we don’t get the tiny pieces of paying attention to another. Often being around others results in endless catching up instead of being there together.

Meditation is about the details. Catching up is not. I am getting lonely, but I am not up for catching up. Instead I am paying attention to what is quiet. The quiet outside reflects the quiet inside. I don’t want to talk. It seems that noise from inside creates resonances that are harder to stop than noise from the outside. The radio seems to be OK. The visual sensations from the TV are too much. I am evaluating every habit based on the volume of its resonance.