Dear Zoe,

It's Thanksgiving weekend and you're turning 3 in a few short months. It's been an incredibly trying holiday for us. On the flight over we received the horrible news that our dog Dexter had gotten loose and was hit by a car. After a panicked set of phone calls and arrangements, I flew back within hours of landing to take care of him. So far, Dexter has been lucky. While he's got a broken pelvis and a painful recovery ahead, he will recover. As he snoozes next to me, it's our first time apart from each other and I miss you deeply.

Under the pall of these unfortunate events, I have often caught glimpses of the silver lining. It could have been so much worse -- I easily could have been flying home to say goodbye to Dexter. I couldn't be more grateful for our community in this time of need. Our friends who dropped everything on my call to sit in a vet clinic for hours. Our friends who spent an entire day driving Dexter to the surgical specialist and bringing him to our house. Our friends who brought over pet fences to make our home safe for him. Our friends who have been texting and calling to check in. Not to mention the family and community around Sachin and you, everyone pitching in to bring toys, cook food, and keep you entertained. My heart is full of gratitude and grief as I emerge from the chaos of this week.

It's also a good opportunity to reflect on what really matters in life.

When disaster strikes, it's easy to flinch away from the pain and heartache. Dexter could be a cautionary tale about how dangerous it is to open your heart. I know that dogs don't have the longest lifespans, but while they are with us they become part of the fabric of family. It's a guaranteed way to get hurt, where the very act of caring about something or someone creates an opportunity for pain.

I prefer to take the opposite view. To adopt that belief is to insulate our hearts in bubble wrap and never truly feel the positive because we are so afraid of the negative. One way to articulate is the idea of emotional range. If emotions were bounded from 0 to 10, we try to limit our emotional range to safe levels, avoiding the highs and lows. We design our lives in such a way to be at a steady 8, avoiding annoyances and discomforts and pains along the way. However, in the process of reducing the possibility of bad things happening, we become less open. Why date if you might get your heart broken? Why apply for a dream job if you might get turned down? Why have a child if they might get hurt?

In the time that we've been with Dexter, he's been a source of joy and happiness. I don't have a shred of regret that I love him so much. The very scarcity of time with him makes it more precious. These accidents are reminders for us to be present in the today, no matter the risks. Today, I have an opportunity to sit beside him and spend a snuggly, snore-filled day with him. And that's what really matters in life, being present and savoring the joy we have today. While we work intentionally toward our larger plans, who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Living in the present is really hard, especially against the pull of external influences. I'm full of gratitude for the riches I have in my life. It's interesting that when I think about the riches, material wealth is far from what comes immediately to mind. Instead, I think about this wonderful community of friends who popped out of the woodwork and helped. I think about the beautiful relationship that your dad and I have, and how lucky I am to have a partner who I can wholly trust. Even though we are apart, I know that you are safe and cared for. And then finally, I'm grateful for the material wealth, because it enables us to take care of our family members without the need to make impossible choices.

Can't wait to see you soon. Miss you and love you,


Dexter in his fluffy puppy days
You're just a girl with her dog :)