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三条腿的狗扶我走过人生

更新时间:2016-12-11 9:53:14 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The Three-Legged Dog Who Carried Me
三条腿的狗扶我走过人生

The veterinarian knelt over my three-legged Australian shepherd, Patou, in my living room. She had just completed the procedure to end Patou’s life. The first injection was to relax her; my husband and I, holding her, felt her taut back muscles melt into a softness we hadn’t known for years. The second vial sent her off.

起居室里,兽医跪在我那条三条腿的澳大利亚牧羊犬帕图(Patou)面前。她刚刚完成了结束帕图生命的步骤。第一针是为了让她放松。我和丈夫抱着她,感觉到她紧张的背部肌肉变得柔软,我们多年来从没见她这么软过。第二瓶药让她离开了这个世界。

“Now she’ll be whole again, reunited with her other leg,” the doctor said.

“现在她会再次变得完整,和自己的另一条腿团聚,”医生说。

I knew what she meant about wholeness: it was a belief in an embodied afterlife. Born with four legs yet living the last years of her life with three, Patou must have seemed to some incomplete. But in that moment I had to question that idea.

我知道她说的完整是什么意思:那是对于来生的笃信。在一些人看来,生下来是四条腿,但生命的最后几年里却靠三条腿生活的帕图肯定不完整。但在那一刻,我不得不质疑这种看法。

In the four and a half years after Patou’s initial bone cancer diagnosis (fibrosarcoma) and the amputation of her front leg, she became more herself than ever before — committed to the joy of any small moment, growing less introverted and more trusting with outsiders, and, like most dogs lucky enough to live into their golden years, developing ever deeper bonds with the people who cared for her.

在帕图最初被诊断患了骨癌(纤维肉瘤)并被截去了一条前腿。之后的四年半里,她变得比以前任何时候都正常——沉浸在任何一个细微时刻的快乐中,变得不那么内向,更容易相信外人,并且和大部分能够幸运地活到老年的狗狗一样,她和照顾自己的人建立起了更深厚的感情。

Even more, through our shared experience of disability — she with three legs, I often with my “third leg,” a cane — we grew all the more connected through our interdependence, our unconventional mobility and our asymmetry.

而且通过共同的失能经历——她只有三条腿,我则经常要用到“第三条腿”,也就是拐杖——我们的关系在相互依赖、有别传统的行走和不对称中变得更加紧密。

When Patou came into my life, I had lived with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis for almost nine years, which caused periods of numbness, dizzy spells and weakness on my left side that impaired my mobility. I had collected three canes by then. Aware that a flare-up could come at any time without notice, I taught the young, four-legged Patou to help me up stairs.

帕图走进我的生活时,我患复发缓解型多发性硬化症已有近九年的时间。这种病会造成阵发性的麻木和头晕,并导致我的左半边身体虚弱无力,影响了我的行动能力。那时,我已经收集了三根拐杖。我知道自己任何时候都可能没有征兆地发病,于是便教帕图协助我上楼梯。那时的她还是一只四条腿健全的小狗。

Aussies are herding dogs and need a job of some kind, and she loved hoisting me up, stairs — actually, any nearby stairway — heaving her whole body for us both through short, rolling bounds. With one hand I would hold the rail and with the other I grasped her collar, and she pulled me up, surging. Like a cane, she took the strain off, but steadied as I went. It strikes me only now, as I write this, how similar that motion on four legs was to her movement years later on three: the absolute effort and drive of that round-backed, full body propulsion.

澳大利亚犬都是牧羊犬,需要有某种工作。她喜欢拉着我上楼梯——几乎是附近的任何楼梯——为此她使出全身力气、不停急促地往上跳。我一只手扶着栏杆,一只手抓着她的项圈,她鼓足劲把我往上拉。她像拐杖一样替我省了力,却又颇为稳当。现在写这篇文章时,我才惊觉她四条腿时的姿势,和多年后三条腿时的动作多么相似:弓身使出全部力气时那种十足的努力和干劲。

Couldn’t that be wholeness? Might we store all our past and future ways of moving within us at all times?

那难道不是完整吗?我们是否可以把过去和未来所有的移动方式一直保存在自己体内?

I also trained Patou to pull me up in case I fell, and to stand still beside me as I attempted to rise from a seated position, holding her sturdy back for stability.

我还训练帕图在我跌倒时拉我起来,并在我试图从座位上站起来时静静地站在一旁,让我扶着她结实的背部保持身体平稳。

My potential need became her game.

我的潜在需求成了她的游戏。

Many M.S. flares have come and gone since then, leaving their residual effects along the way. A few months before Patou displayed symptoms of bone cancer, my right eye flamed a deep pain with movement and the glare of bright light, and I soon lost the ability to read most text for about a year, the letters rising up out of themselves: M.S.-related optic neuritis. Just as I contemplated a different life of listening more than reading, of possibly needing a larger dog to help me navigate the world, Patou began needing me more.

自从那时起,多发性硬化症的症状来了又去,一路产生了各种残留效应。帕图表现出骨癌症状的几个月前,我右眼的眼球一转动或者遇到强光,就火烧火燎地疼。很快,我失去了阅读大多数文本的能力,为期约一年。那时,字母仿佛从纸上漂浮了起来,这其实是与多发性硬化症相关的视神经炎。当我打算改变生活方式,更多地聆听声音而非阅读文字,或许还需要一条更大的狗帮我通行世界的时候,帕图却开始更加需要我了。

At an agility class the summer before the cancer diagnosis, she ran up a tall wooden apex structure called an A-frame, and couldn’t make it to the top. She stopped a little higher than my shoulders, unable to gather enough momentum to climb all the way up the steep incline, and she turned to me. This was the moment my dog let me know that she needed me. I stretched out my arms, watching her scramble to gain footing, and she dropped into them, uncharacteristically laying each front paw on either side of my neck.

被确诊患有骨癌之前的那个夏天,在一堂敏捷性训练课上,她跑上了一个名为A架的高高的木质尖顶构造物。她停在比我的肩膀高一点的地方,无法卯足力气沿着陡峭的斜坡爬上去,她转头望向我。这一刻,我的狗狗让我知道她需要我。看到她竭力想要站稳,我伸出了胳膊。而她一头扑进我怀中,两只前爪不同寻常地搭在我的脖颈两侧。

It felt like wholeness, holding this 45-pound dog like a child, but tentative.

我仿佛健全人一般,像抱着一个孩子一样抱着这只45磅重的狗狗,但又不太确定。

What is wholeness?

什么是健全?

All bodies change over time; no one body is ever permanent or completely symmetrical. After her amputation, Patou’s body remolded itself to suit her movement. Her solitary front paw, the left one, angled inward, forming a strong center paw. It grew to nearly twice its original size, eventually capable of holding large compressed rawhide bones upright — formerly held between two paws — as she chewed. Her back hunched more, neck thicker, stronger. She still jumped to catch toys in midair, ran faster than other dogs, as though, my father would say, the other leg just got in the way.

所有的身体都会随着时间的流逝而改变,没有谁的身体是永远不变或者绝对对称的。截肢后,帕图的身体进行了自我重塑,以便适应她的动作。她那只孤单的左前爪向内倾斜,形成了一只强壮的中爪。它几乎长成了原有尺寸的两倍大小,最终竟然能够在她咀嚼牛皮骨的时候将牛皮骨抓起来——以前都是放在两爪之间。她的背变得更弓,脖颈也变得更为粗壮。她仍会跳到空中抓玩具,跑得仍然比其他狗狗快,就好像我父亲说的,另一条腿反而还碍事呢。

There is beauty in this change, the grace and balance found in asymmetry. In two creatures from different species of vastly different size using three legs to move through life: her lack, my excess, this pairing of three.

这种变化蕴含着美感,在不对称中可以看到优雅和平衡。我们是来自不同物种的两个生物,身材大小截然不同,但都用三条腿行走江湖:她少了一条,我多了一条,我们是一对三条腿的伙伴。

Wabi sabi, the Japanese aesthetic philosophy closely tied to Zen Buddhism, insists upon asymmetry and imperfection, aware that these are signs of life’s impermanence and decay. In wabi sabi, fallen leaves may carry more meaning than those still on the tree; a ceramic bowl is more beautiful by its lack of uniformity; the composition of a painting or photo more deeply felt through its rejection of centering, the subject somewhere near the frame’s edge, amid a field of blankness. Maybe even a disabled, asymmetrical dog with her disabled, asymmetrical human can aspire to such beauty.

有一种与禅宗佛学密切相关的日式美学,名为侘寂,它主张接受不对称和不完美,知道这些是生命的无常和衰变的迹象。在侘寂美学中,比起仍然挂在枝头的叶子,落叶也许承载着更多意义;一只瓷碗因为均匀度不够而更具美感;一幅画或者一张照片如果拒绝居中构图,让主体居于边缘,将其余的地方留白,则会令人有更深的感触。或许就连一只残疾的不对称的狗狗,以及她那残疾的不对称的主人,也渴望具有这种美。

Wabi sabi expresses a profound love of life through sorrowfully recognizing its fleeting nature. If there’s anything a dog lover knows and must contend with, it’s the fleeting nature of a dog’s life, the speed with which they age and die relative to our own life spans.

通过悲伤地承认生命转瞬即逝的本质,侘寂表达了对生命深沉的热爱。如果有什么是爱狗人士知道和必须与之斗争的,那便是狗生易逝的本质,是它们相比于我们自己的寿命衰老和死亡的速度。

Patou and I both became acquainted with life’s flux far earlier than many of our respective species typically do. I shuffled like my grandmother in my early 20s, periodically experienced urinary incontinence from the age of 17, temporarily lost vision and needed tinted magnifying lenses in my 30s, and now in my 40s experience cognitive challenges that are more typical of a much older person. In the prime of Patou’s life she stopped being able to jump onto furniture, lost her job of pulling me up the stairs, and lost a leg.

帕图和我知晓生命变化无常的时间,远远早于我们各自物种的许多成员通常开始明白的时间。我从20出头就开始像我的祖母一样拖着脚走路;从17岁开始不时出现小便失禁;在30多岁的时候一度失去视力,需要有色放大镜的辅助;现在到了40多岁,又遭遇更年长的人才会出现的认知挑战。帕图在自己年富力强的阶段无法再跳上家具,失去了扶我上楼梯的工作,还失去了一条腿。

Through loss we both gained access to learning what else our bodies could do to persist in this world, how to adapt to the flux and flow of life. Our mobility changes became, for us, the norm. I marvel at the ease with which some people run staircases, as though they’re from outer space, but whenever I spot another tri-paw dog’s movement, a curtain of serene familiarity washes over me. When Patou and I first approached the sliding glass doors of a pet supply store, each on three legs, I caught sight of our reflection and thought, they’re bound to think I’m using my dog to panhandle. I soon came to simply trust and love what I saw in the glass: persistence, trust, grace.

因为失去,我们都得以知晓我们的身体还能做些别的什么,好让我们继续在这个世界上生活。知道如何适应生命的变化与流逝。对我们来说,移动能力的变化反倒成了常态。我会惊叹于一些人上楼梯的轻松自如,就好像他们来自外太空,但每当我看到另外一只三条腿的狗活动的方式,一种平静的熟悉感会涌遍全身。当帕图和我分别靠着自己的三条腿刚走近一家宠物店的滑动玻璃门时,我看到了我们在玻璃上的倒影,然后想他们肯定会觉得我是在带着自己的狗乞讨。但我很快开始单纯地信任和喜爱我在玻璃上看到的东西:坚持不懈、信任和优雅。

Patou’s movement: unmistakable jazz waltz brushes. My movement: the cane’s bold stomp followed by a soft hitching shuffle. This music must be wholeness.

帕图的运动:十足的爵士华尔兹动作。我的运动:拐杖的顿足爵士舞,之后是柔和的勾拽曳步舞。这音乐肯定是完满的。

After her amputation, Patou continued to live cancer-free for nearly four years. When the same cancer returned in the remaining front leg, its growth was slow, and we treated it with palliative radiation. She began to fall, her front paw flopping and buckling under, resembling the M.S. symptom “foot drop.” I saw the dog’s falls through my own experience, and wondered if physical therapy could help her as it had helped me strengthen my leg and relearn, for a while, how to walk. The veterinary physical therapist exercised Patou in water and supplied us with mobility aids: a set of wheels preceded by a string of successive neoprene leg braces to prevent falls, and a harness with long looped handles to support the dog’s front end as she descended stairs.

截肢之后,帕图过了近四年没有癌症的生活。当同一种癌症再度侵袭她剩下的那条前腿时,癌细胞扩散地比较慢,我们采用放射姑息疗法进行治疗。她开始跌倒,前爪耷拉在下面,有点像多发性硬化的一种症状“垂足病”。我看着她摔倒,联想到自己的经历,于是在心里想物理疗法是不是也能对她有帮助,就像这种治疗曾经帮我加强了腿部力量,让我一度重新学会了走路。动物理疗师让帕图在水里锻炼,还给我们提供了辅助行动的工具:一套用来防止跌倒的轮椅,上面有一串橡胶腿支架;还有一条具备多个有长圆环把手的安全带,用来在狗下楼梯的时候支撑它的上半身。

This dog, who carried me up so many flights, welcomed my hand raising her by those handles, lifting her chest to lighten her descent as I braced against the stair rail. A kind of wholeness through asymmetry and time, the tension between impermanence and ongoingness.

这条曾经那么多次支撑我上下楼的狗,乐于接受我的帮助。我一边靠楼梯扶手将自己的稳住,一边通过这些把手将她提起,抬高她的胸部,好让她下楼。这是一种通过不对称和时间达成的完整,是短暂和持续之间的张力。

Patou’s new wheels were more like a rolling walker than a wheelchair; the wheels helped her exercise while supporting her chest’s weight. We started using them on quiet sidewalks until she was ready for short jaunts with her wheels at the jogging track of a local park. One day, rounding a turn, we spotted a man using a wheelchair heading toward us. Patou saw him, too, launched into a flat-out run, and rushed straight for him, nearly pulling the leash out of my hand. The man broke into a broad smile and laughed, “No shame in the game, no shame in the game.” The beauty of this moment, which I have yet to comprehend fully, was not lost on me: All creatures who persist are whole.

与其说帕图的新工具是轮椅,不如说它是滚动的助行器;它能帮助她在锻炼的同时支撑自己胸部的重量。一开始,我只是在安静的人行道上使用,后来她能借助轮椅在当地一个公园里的慢跑道上锻炼一小段。有一天,我们转了个弯,看到一名坐在一张轮椅上的男子正朝我们这边行进。帕图也看见了他,便奋力跑起来,直接朝他冲过去,差点挣脱我手上拽着的绳子。那名男子带着欢欣的表情笑了起来,“这样努力没什么丢人的,没什么丢人的。”这一刻的美,我体会到了,但还没能完全领悟,那便是:所有顽强存在的生物都是完整的。

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