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Shower Scene from Be More Dog Book

In my post about the significance of Kokopelli in our Be More Dog book, I mentioned sharing personal details about the shower scene in Chapter 18…

There is deep significance of Kokopelli appearing in our book…
At some point I may share excerpts of the intimate experience I describe in chapter 18 that led up to the first reference.

As promised, here’s a little background, a couple photos from the Wayback Machine, and some excerpts from the book. It was March of 2008 when we took Jerry for his first oncology visit with Dr. Mullins and her incredible staff at the Veterinary Cancer Care clinic in Santa Fe.

Vet Cancer Care
Veterinary Cancer Care Center – March, 2008

We had recently received the news that Jerry’s cancer had metastasized. So we scheduled an appointment to discuss our options. I was already worried and stressed enough about the situation. To top it off, the camera crew from PBS met us there to document our story for Nature: Why We Love Cats and Dogs.

vet cancer care
Dr Mullins breaks the news to Jerry.

After being overwhelmed with information about metronomics and immunotherapy options for Jerry’s lung mets, we were already burnt out. And Jerry wanted to get out. We spent the next few hours driving around the nearby mountains, and ended up at Tent Rocks near our campground in Cochiti Pueblo.

Tent Rocks
Tent Rocks – Cochiti Pueblo

That’s where the director found a scenic spot and sat us down for the deep dive. We poured our hearts out for the camera.  Meanwhile, Jerry soaked up the attention with his newfound stardom.

PBS Nature
On location with PBS: Nature – March, 2008

If it sounds like I’m stalling about that shower scene in the book, there’s a reason. See what I did there? “Stalling”…shower stall! Never mind.

During our long drawn out writing process, I heard the advice to let down your guard. Be vulnerable. Show yourself at your lowest moments to capture the hearts of your readers. Well, that shower scene was one of my lowest moments ever. The previous few weeks had been a roller coaster ride, more scary than exciting. It all started with that Big Bad Wolf dream at the end of Chapter 17. Remind me to write about that here someday. Then there was the oncologist explaining the limited options we had for our Chief Fun Officer fighting off the cancer consuming his lungs. Top it off with two days of filming and opening our hearts for the camera. I was physically and emotionally wiped out!

“Weren’t we just in Los Angeles?” He handed Rene a cocktail. The longest week in their life together was now behind them. “Seems like a year ago.”

“No kidding.” Rene noticed he was visibly upset. “You okay?”

“Yeah. I’m just wiped out.” He didn’t want to talk about it. “I need a shower.”
Be More Dog, Chapter 18: Living in the Now

It was nearly dark by the time we got back to the campground. While the site had electricity, we had no water and sewer hookups. But the campground did have a public restroom with showers.

shower scene
Cochiti Campground – March, 2008

It was a no frills shower house with concrete stalls, but it was just what I needed at the time. The showerheads were coin-operated, and a timer on the wall controlled the lights. I distinctly remember the illegible scratches someone had scrawled across the polished steel mirror in a failed graffiti tag attempt.

Bare, bright bulbs threw an eerie fluorescent glare across the  bathroom’s steel sinks and mirrors. Alone in the fading daylight, he  turned the light switch dial on the wall, walked into a shower stall, and dropped three quarters into a pay box. The quarters clattered, and the water timer’s ticking echoed loudly as water flowed from the showerhead. A single fluorescent overhead light flickered like a scene from some bad horror film.

Surreal Shower Scene Details

The cold water blasted me in a strong narrow jet. I gasped, then leaned into it. Not until many years later did I discover Wim Hoff and the benefits of cold water therapy and his breathing methods. I just froze. If only I had a camera at the time to document the scene. My spirit was in no way willing to take any pictures anyway. And the images are still vivid enough in my mind.

“BRRR!” The narrow jet stream of water came out fast and hard, and very cold. It wasn’t warming up, and he wasn’t about to keep feeding quarters to find out if it ever would…

He added two more quarters and lowered his head back into the cold water. The cold stung his skin like needles, nudging him into a fit of heaving and sobbing. It was all too much – Jerry’s metastasis, the oncology visit, the film crew, the long day of driving. Tears flowed from his eyes as all those fears and doubts came bubbling up once again.

And then the lights went out on the shower scene. That was it. I hit bottom.

“Get a hold of yourself!” Embarrassed by his annoyance at the minor inconvenience, he remembered how Jerry handled the Big Bad Wolf and tried to do the same. Embracing the cold water seemed like the way to go, but it didn’t stop his sad cries from growing louder. Then, the lights went out with a loud click. “AAARRGH…”

Oh, I go on to share more intimate details about my emotions that day before, during and after the shower scene. I describe how the ice-cold water eventually refreshed and numbed me until I could cry no more. I illustrate how the large goosebumps all over my body made me laugh at the insanity of it all. And then, I tell the tale about how Kokopelli made it all make sense.

Once dressed, he stepped out into the crisp evening air under a darkening indigo sky and silently prayed to Indian spirits of the Pueblo. “Please. Give me a sign, anything; tell me we’re doing the right thing.”

That sign was the Kokopelli glass. To fill in the blanks of this story and many others from our adventures with Jerry, you’ll have to read Be More Dog: Learning to Live in the Now – available in your favorite format here, or anywhere books are sold.

 

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