"It takes courage to stand up and be who you really are.
It also takes courage to fall apart
when you can no longer stand."
The last Uninhibited Retreat was a time filled with some of the most beautiful experiences of my life. It was a sweet homecoming to be in the company of familiar companions who had been a part of the very first Uninhibited that took place in February 2014. The dive we took together was deeper than the previous one and because we already knew each other, the level of comfort and intimacy with one another and within the group was immediately palpable and carried us to new places of being and knowing.
I could tell you about how we danced. I could tell you about the delicious meals we ate. I could tell you about how we laughed and cried. I could try and describe what this retreat is really all about in the hopes that you'll want to attend the next one coming up in March, but instead, I'm going to tell you the story that has broken my heart wide open a thousand times since October 21.
It was the morning of the second day of our retreat. It was early. No one else in the house was awake except me and Buddy. Neither of us had slept much the previous night. Feeling both exhilarated and exhausted by the first day's dances and activities, I had gone to bed knowing something was off. Something I'd seen earlier that evening on the beach had given me a glimpse of what was coming. I just didn't know it was coming later that night and the following day.
That something on the beach had been a black lab. With the sun beginning to set and the last song of our dance playing in my ears, I sat down and watched this beautiful creature playing in the waves. In my opinion, he was happy. He was full of life. He made me think of what my Buddy used to be like. And then suddenly I felt something move through me that I can only describe as "knowing the what without knowing the when." I knew Buddy's life would soon be coming to an end.
He hadn't been eating or drinking much for a couple of days. He didn't appear to be in pain, but he also didn't appear to be happy. He didn't seem himself. For over two years, my beloved cat had courageously endured thrice weekly visits to the vet to treat kidney disease. His weight would fluctuate from time to time, but during the last week, it had ventured into scary territory. At various times throughout his illness, I had asked him to "give me a sign or two" when he was ready. Throughout that first night of the retreat, he gave me several.
Looking back almost four months ago, I can now see clearly how he somehow chose when it was not only the best time for him to go, but it was the best time for me to let him go. Sometimes I think Buddy knew me better than I knew myself.
And so when I got up that morning, I fell apart and continued to fall throughout the day. After making an early morning visit to the vet and hearing the doctor speak from a medical perspective and from his heart, I made the choice to lay him to rest. The vet couldn't do the procedure until later that afternoon so Buddy and I returned home to spend our last few hours together. It was the longest and shortest six hours I'd spent since my uncle had died nineteen years earlier.
During this in-between time, it seemed like Buddy didn't really want to be around me. He would venture back to his food and water dishes and just stare. He would curl up underneath the furniture. While he would let me pet him, it felt like he was tolerating my touch rather than enjoying it. He wasn't purring and he didn't meow at all during those six hours. Despite him probably feeling horrid because he hadn't eaten in awhile, I'd have to say he appeared pretty content to just rest. Looking back again, his lack of usual affection somehow helped me to carry through with the decision.
So while Buddy rested, the retreat was put on pause. And I...I mean we, all five of us who were in this retreat together, paused. To let go of what the day's plans were was hard. To prepare for what was coming later in the afternoon was harder. It's hard now to write the words to describe what happened during those few hours at home, the last drive to the vet, the few precious minutes of holding Buddy as he "fell asleep."
In the company of my friends, Rose, Amy, Joe and Jenni, I completely fell apart without knowing how I might be "put together" again. Through the tender care and trust of these four people, I was able to grieve the impending death of my sweet boy and receive what I needed so I could be strong and present for Buddy when the time came to let him go.
It takes courage to fall apart. It is also brave (and very uninhibited) to allow others to help you find the courage to stand again when you feel you cannot.
And so this is what the five of us did for each other over and over again throughout the retreat. This is one of the reasons why I created Uninhibited. This is what I believe is a large part of what we're all here to do in this short span of time we call our lives.
I am still grieving the loss of Buddy. I am still and always will be grateful to my friends who went through this particular experience with me and who were in this very special Uninhibited Reunion Retreat.
There are two more weeks left to decide if you'd like to join us for the next retreat happening March 16-20.
I'd love for you to come to Maui and be courageous with a small group of women who will dance and dine, laugh and cry, and no doubt, fall apart and stand again many times together and for each other.