Every morning, as the sun would start to peek up over the ridge and through the sugar cane, we would stir. The heat would arrive quickly and so after a quick snuggle, and the donning of a t shirt, flip flops, and the obligatory leash, Gunner and I would leap from the balcony of our little house in Yomitan Village, walk/frolic between the sugar cane fields and their farmers, literally through the hibiscus bushes bordering the sand and burst onto the beach. And we would run up and down and up and down the shore, trying to get the other to chase us into the water and back out again, until the tide would receed, or we just couldn’t run any more without eating breakfast first. So then we would brush off a bit of sand (but not nearly all of it) and wander back up the little hill to our house where the hose was waiting to spray off our feet (and bellies) and the rest of the glorious day awaited.
This was life in Japan for little Gunner and I. This was our everyday for nearly four years. We look forward to our mornings so very much. It was everything that this little fuzzy man knew from the moment he became our puppy. And it was how I survived in a foreign country, where I couldn’t read a word. But I was never helpless or hopeless because he was there with me – to run on the beach.
I hold those mornings on the beach so close to my heart and remember this roly-poly little one bumbling in the sand. The loss of these mornings broke my heart when we left Asia. There were so many of them when I would find myself staring out at the ocean, and as his tiny furry body leaping with joy in the waves, completely oblivious to the fact that there were wars going on. That we were thousands of miles from the people that loved us. Or even that I had a list of things to-do to keep our house in the cane fields up and running and not infested with snakes or bugs or sand from the beach. Nope. Joy. It seeped from his little being and still does each day. He is such a WONDERFUL reminder that we mustn’t spare any moment of joy, and that really, joy is in everything and all around us.
Gunner turned FIVE years old today. I can hardly believe he is so big and no longer a “puppy,” (even though he always will be to me.) To celebrate, we could think of nothing more appropriate than to take him to the beach here in San Francisco – he loved every minute…surely equally as much as we did (but maybe not more.)
Life has changed leaps and bounds from those days in Japan. my days are no longer spent “merely” keeping house, learning Japanese, or filling days with activities as I wait for Derek to return home from deployment. In fact, this was my first week at my new job with Backroads, putting to use all that worldly knowledge I gleaned during those years in Japan. It was an exciting week in several respects, and a dark, difficult one at the same time – I feel so very lucky to work with so many adventureous, joyous, and generally blissful people and this week, out of the blue, we lost one of our own. A beautiful, vibrant, happy woman whom was healthy, and spreading her colorful spirit with the world one minute, and gone the next. Her passing took a toll on each of us, and reminded us all of how lucky we are for the time we have, for our loved ones, and for the joys – no matter how simple – in our lives. I did not know her well, but the loss of her in our community undeniably impacted each of us.
Its always strange to realize that the sun is shining outside, but inside your heart is dark. Watching Gunner play on the beach today reminded me to brighten up. To take pause, to take a deep breath and soak up all that was around me. His frolic was a celebration of him, of his life, but also of mine. Of all of ours. This little fuzzy man of ours is a constant reminder of forgiveness, of non-judgement. His pure little heart is so good at reminding me always to listen in, to slow down, to take a moment to flop on the floor and cuddle, and to be joyous with the small things. Somehow, today, the sun, and the sea and the sand on Gunner’s belly as we trekked back to the car when the splashing/barking/leaping was through was very big. Just like FIVE should be.