This week, Fiona Apple penned a four-page, hand written letter explaining why she had to cancel the South American leg of her tour. Her 14-year-old pit bull, Janet, is making her transition and she needs to be there with her.
When I first heard about this letter, I rolled my eyes. I can be so judgmental (Ughhh!). But let’s rewind…
I feel strongly about honoring commitments and being a woman of my word. Personal responsibility and showing up for other people even when I don’t feel like it is important to me. I’m not a fan of self-indulgence because it feels selfish and narcissistic. Though I realize that I, of course, am guilty of these things, I always judge myself more harshly for it than I judge others. As a culture, we are very selfish and narcissistic, and I assumed that this letter was just another example of that. BUT I WAS SO WRONG.
This letter is so brave, the stuff of giants. What is so extraordinary about Fiona’s words and what touched me so deeply is her courage and her willingness to own her truth. To trust her gut and choose love — that heart-wrenching mixed bag — and choose to be present in the face of heartbreak and joy, is truly amazing. I am always in awe of people who choose to be present for the reality of a true connection. To allow a being to be as important as Janet is to Fiona is a beautiful and powerful thing.
I often have internal battles about what I think I “should be doing” versus what I “want” to be doing. “Should” and “want” are complicated ideas to make sense of and unpack, and somewhere between those two things, if I look with a gentle curiosity, I find a God Space. Learning to honor myself, learning about true service, and finding that balance between responsibility and self-love — ultimately, learning how to LOVE! — have been hugely important in my becoming a woman.
And so, at first, I rolled my eyes at this letter, but it turns out that I had something to learn from Fiona. She reminded me about that beautiful, heart wrenching space that defines love and loss. It is… the God Space.
Being a human being is not easy, and it often feels so lonely, like we’re the only ones feeling the way we do. I am so grateful when I can see myself in someone else, when I am humbled by what I needed to hear, and when I am reminded that I am not alone.
I am so grateful to Fiona Apple for sharing her truth and her heart with us so beautifully and so honestly.
Some of the bits that shattered me… especially because I have a very dear canine angel in my life too:
She slept in bed with me, her head on the pillow, and she accepted my hysterical, tearful face into her chest, with her paws around me, every time I was heartbroken, or spirit-broken, or just lost, and as years went by, she let me take the role of her child, as I fell asleep, with her chin resting above my head.
She’s my best friend and my mother and my daughter, my benefactor, and she’s the one who taught me what love is.
I just can’t leave her now, please understand. If I go away again, I’m afraid she’ll die and I won’t have the honor of singing her to sleep, of escorting her out.
Sometimes it takes me 20 minutes to pick which socks to wear to bed, but this decision is instant. These are the choices we make, which define us. I will not be the woman who puts her career ahead of love and friendship.