A few months ago, my husband and I had to put down our beloved Copper, a 10-year-old red fox Labrador retriever. She was diagnosed with skin cancer in September and had stopped responding to chemo. She was at the vet when I got the call that it was time for us to let her go. We agreed to wait until the end of the day so both my husband and I could say good-bye. When I arrived at the vet, my husband was already in the grieving room with Copper. When I walked into the room, Copper immediately jumped up and came running up to me. She was so happy to see me. I petted her for a while and then she sat on our laps and, well, we all know what happened from there.
Over the past few months, I have reflected back on the moment I walked into that grieving room over a hundred times. I was so distracted by how sad I was to lose her, by anger at her having cancer and by how much I really didn’t want to go through this emotional experience. But what I think about most is how much I wish I had been more present in that moment. I let all these other things distract me from being there and experiencing the joy of watching her run over and greet me when I walked into the room.
I have read a lot of books recently about the importance of setting intention. Before entering into a conversation with your spouse, your child or even a co-worker, think about the intention that you want to set. Too often we carry our emotions from one situation into the next situation. This can cause us to be distracted, bringing baggage that doesn’t belong, and ultimately we may miss an opportunity to truly connect with another person.
When we take the time to think about the energy we want to bring into a situation, we are creating the opportunity to put our best self in that situation. Being intentional about the energy we want to bring into the moment can shape the situation into something impactful for all parties involved. The situation might not be enjoyable, but we have the opportunity to be intentional about how we respond to some of life’s unpleasant times.
I wish I had put all my worries behind me when I spent those last precious moments with Copper. Not being fully in the moment didn’t make it hurt less, but it does make me sad that I didn’t set the intention to give her all of my attention just one last time.