I hate pit bulls.
For the past several days Tom and I visited a favored aunt and uncle in Arizona and did some touring. While sitting at the rim of the Grand Canyon at sunset my cell phone rang. On the other end was a near hysterical Cassie. She and Caroline had taken Sammy our beagle on his daily stroll 'round the park when out of a PARKED CAR raged a pit bull straight for my beloved trio. The murderous dog attacked Sam, chomped on his head and neck trying to kill him.
Cassie, screaming at the dog and its owner while pulling Sam away, managed to keep the other dog from succeeding in crushing Sam's head, though its cruel jaws were around Sam's noggin attempting to get a good grip. The dog's dagger-teeth remained on Sam's head and neck, chomping, the two dogs shrieking and snarling primal dog noises, piercing fear into the hearts of my two precious girls. Up and down the street Cassie dragged Sam while the owner-woman cussed a blue streak at her dog unable to restrain him. Children and adults from the park tried to get the wild-eyed pit bull away from Sam. Poor Caroline stood horrified at the unfolding scene.
The attacking dog was restrained enough at one point for Sam to collapse onto the street, vomiting and in shock. Cassie, loving owner that she is, scooped him up and ran for home. Sam weighs 32 pounds! Caroline helped. They ran nearly the entire two blocks before they had to set Sam down. So heavy. He seemed fine, walked okay, marked this and that.
It was upon their arrival safe at home that Tom and I received their phone call while at the Grand Canyon.
I nearly fell to pieces. So far away. No control. I felt like a bad parent but mostly I wanted to hold my children and assure them they would be okay and so would Sam. I sat there on the bench at the Canyon while Tom tried to find a parking space for the car - something we were in the process of doing when the girls called - and I wept. I stared at this gorgeous creation of God's while the lowering sun painted each strata and glowed on the peaks, and I muttered, "Yes, it's beautiful God. But it's a piece of crap compared to my children. I want to go home!"
We immediately changed our plane tickets from Thursday to the following afternoon, found lodging in the park, and knowing our friends and our son, Joe, were with the girls for the evening we decided to just sit at the Canyon and watch the stars come out, trying to enjoy the moment even as our hearts were with our kids. What else could we do?
Tom Crum tells a story about a little monk who is chased by a lion until he, the monk, is forced to jump over a cliff. On the way down he grabs a tiny tree, holding on for dear life. Six feet below his kicking feet is a bear, swiping giant paws and claws upward, drooling jaws ready to devour him when he falls. Lion above ready for his blood and bear below, the monk notices a huge, red, ripe strawberry growing out of the cliff within arm's reach. He looks at it and says delightedly, "Ah, a strawberry!" He plucks it and eats it, relishing the sweet, juicy flavor. The lion was the past, the bear the future, the peril very real. Still he enjoyed the strawberry fully in the moment.
Inside the majestic El Tovar lodge, in a wide, comfy, leather mission chair, huge old beams above, tall starry windows beside, I sat, a million miles away...worrying. Then, I remembered the strawberry. I pondered the parable for awhile. My tense, furrowed face eased a little. Just a little.
"Let's enjoy the strawberry, shall we, Tom?"
He knows the story, too. "Yes. Yes, let's"
Hand in hand we wandered outside, still very upset and concerned, but determined to see and experience what was right before us. We were greeted with a herd of elk grazing on the front circle of lawn. Two bulls and eight cows and calves. We watched for a long time. They bugled now and then. Awesome. A family protecting one another. Beautiful.
We walked to the rim of the canyon, looked up at the stars, saw the Milky Way, pointed out familiar constellations, and marveled.
Knowing that Tom and I were completely dependent on friends, Joe, God, and the kindness of strangers to nurture our traumatized daughters in our stead caused a change in me, the one who feels the need to be in control at all times. Uncertain of what to label this change I rest in the fact that it is something good.
We made it home safe and sound, traveling back to Phoenix via scenic Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona. Our flights were on-time, smooth, the skies clear, the late night drive home from Portland easy.
The hugs upon arrival were long and tight.
Home sweet home!
But I STILL hate pit bulls!! (And I'm not too fond of irresponsible owners, either!)
(The photo of the canyon is one I snapped from where I sat on the bench praying. It's what I was looking at when I said the canyon was crap. The second photo is Tom and my clasped hands as we flew home toward our very hearts.)