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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.

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Boris in his winter basket with his wool sweater and kitty heater

The crisis has averted, and I am sitting hospice for my dear, sweet kitty companion of almost 20 years. Boris has been the only constant in my immediate space for those years. The house has changed, the state in which the house resided has changed, a marriage went, the couch is a different couch, the bed is a different bed. Only a few books, five treasured antique wine glasses, and an old workbench stored in the spare room are pre-Boris. Boris was rescued from a kitty mill in Nebraska. He was taken to a pet store in Tucson, Arizona. My then husband and I had just moved to Arizona with no money and a few possessions tucked into a tiny trailer. I picked Boris out of the lot of milling kittens. He was quiet and stoic and made me feel wise and safe when I held him. The pet store paid for a visit to the vet. The vet did not think he would live. He was four months old and only half the size he was supposed to be. He was diagnosed with a tape worm, treated, and doubled in weight in a month. He grew to his full weight of seven pounds and held the safety of the world in his tiny body. Despite an empathic fear of needles that borders on nausea and swooning, I have learned to use a hanging bag and needle to give him subcutaneous fluids once a day. He is alert, mobile, and not in pain. If he was eating and did not insist on lying in the safe cave of the litter box for hours, I would think he was fine. But he is not fine, at least in the long run he is not fine. But in this moment he and I are both fine, and quiet, and calm, and the air outside in not too hot, so I can open the windows and hear the birds in the 100-year old black walnut tree whose arc covers most of the back yard.

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The biggest benefit of meditation practice is then having the skills to stay in the moment during the times when it is almost impossible to do so. Beloved Boris is dying. It may be today. It may be in a few days. He is more than 19 years old. I am told that is about equivalent to a human being at 100. When I spin stories about imagining life without him, I remember that is in the future, not this moment. At this moment, he is here. I know there is pain now and there will be pain later, but suffering now will not alleviate pain later. The best is to feel what happens when it happens. When I think of memories, I get the same hollow feeling as spinning stories of the future. That too is not this moment. At this time it is only adding suffering. This moment has no hollowness. Coming back to this moment is a matter of gathering in the edges of the past and future until they merge with now. Such an exercise takes all of my energy, but there is peace in now. There is calm and comfort.

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