I was immersed in leading healing groups that were so beautiful, so encouraging, and frankly so miraculous that all I wanted to do was start a group for Grace. Sure, people showed up for a health crisis when their human loved one was at risk, but would they show up for me and my dog?


I was midway through my 40s before I could bear the thought of getting a dog. Before then, I told myself I was too busy, I couldn’t commit to the care, I wouldn’t be free to travel or stay out late with friends. The truth is though, I just couldn’t live with the idea of loss. I have a tender heart. 

I didn’t know anything about being a dog parent when an overfed white Labrador puppy came into my life. I named her Grace because I felt like I needed some. From the moment she arrived, I was consumed with training her, watching her learn, bonding with her, being with her. I was also consumed with the fear of losing her. My grandmother Rosemary would tell you that I’d spent a lifetime guarding my heart, and Grace showed up to crack it wide open.

Of course, at some point, I would have to face losing her, and in the moments I felt panicked about it I would tell myself “some day, but not today.” 

In March of 2020, oddly coinciding with Covid, Grace began to snore and I noticed she wasn't breathing completely through her nose. After we ruled out all the easy stuff, we took her to a specialist who said it was likely nasal cancer and the only treatment was 30 days of radiation. They'd have to anesthetize her each time. My partner and I knew that we couldn't put her through that so we never went ahead with a CT scan to find out definitively what the problem was. Instead, we assumed she would continue to decline and then leave us. We hoped it would be gentle. Month by month, Grace’s ability to breathe through her nose continued to diminish, which may not seem like much but dogs sleep with their head down, mouth closed. Not breathing through her nose meant she was having trouble sleeping. I began to worry that she would fall asleep and suffocate. Thankfully, she adapted to the inconvenience, her personality intact. 

At the time, I was immersed in healing groups: Jonathan, Brie, Jacob. What was happening in those groups was so beautiful, so encouraging, and frankly so miraculous that all I wanted to do was start a group for Grace, but it was the hardest ask I’ve probably ever encountered. Sure, people showed up for a health crisis when their human loved one was at risk, but would they show up for me and my dog?

I asked only a few very trusted people in my life if they would be open to supporting me. All of them enthusiastically opted in. These were people who knew me best and knew that I considered Grace my only child. To echo June’s sentiment, it’s the most loving support I’ve ever felt.

By then nearly a year had passed since I’d noticed the breathing problem. Our vet was surprised that Grace was still alive and suggested maybe she didn't have cancer. So we went back to the specialist, who now had something called a cyber knife, a high-powered radiation laser that was so precise it meant that if she had cancer, she'd only need three treatments. The Grace group began to envision success for this procedure. Then something else happened. To be clear, I wasn’t leading these groups. I was telling the group what I felt like we needed to work on, but mostly it was a free-for-all with my friends offering up what their intuition was guiding them to say. And one day, very early in the process, my best friend Lauren said that someone calling herself Rosemary had shown up. While Lauren is a highly intuitive person, she hadn’t ever exactly been a channel. And she didn’t know who this Rosemary was.

I was shell shocked. Rosemary was my grandmother who had died before I was born. I’d developed a relationship with her to overcome childhood trauma, but I’d never told anyone about that. Rosemary was not just my guardian angel, she was my secret, and here she was announcing herself. Actually, she was more than merely announcing herself, she was taking responsibility for gifting me with Grace in the first place. You see, Rosemary had been my grandfather’s wife, and maybe because she died before I was born, she knew what was to come. Her husband would sexually abuse me as a child, which wreaked all sorts of havoc in my life, but Rosemary had put seeds of strength in me when I was born to help me endure. According to Rosemary, through Lauren, Grace was reparations for what my grandfather had done to me. Grace was the crow bar that finally fully penetrated my barricaded heart. 

And that was exactly the fear I experienced since the moment Grace had arrived: that she’d fully penetrate my heart, and then leave me wide open.

In my experience with the healing circles, they churn up all kinds of gems like this. While Western medicine is brilliant at mending bones, replacing parts, removing damage, prolonging the machinery of the body, we can only really know ourselves in relationship, in community, and especially in a community holding space for Divine interaction.

Grace was healing from her radiation treatments when another crisis presented itself. She collapsed one morning, wouldn’t eat, and couldn’t move. A trip to the emergency room revealed she likely had spleen cancer, which came with a terrible prognosis. We could expect her to live only another month or two. While I’d dabbled with incorporating cancer-fighting supplements into her food for a year, now I went into full gear. I put her on a cancer diet (e-book to come) and the Grace healing circle concentrated on blasting her spleen with loving energy.

Fifteen months later, it wasn’t the cancer that was inhibiting her, it was the arthritis in her spine. When she could no longer walk, we made the most lovingly painful decision I had feared for 13 years. Saying goodbye depleted me and left me utterly bereft. Then, of course, the gift of Grace began appearing everywhere, a new portal for me through which I can discover more about what’s beyond the known.