Skip to main content

Love and Farewell

When my dog-world friend Sandy died, I left her a very tearful message thanking her for gracing my life and teaching me, and I gave her final messages from her dogs, which was her own last request. It was the first time in 54 years I felt like an adult, confronting death and loss without fear. We're so often afraid say goodbye, to accept grief. We fear saying the wrong thing, we fear seeing something ugly, we fear confronting finality, and we fear losing control. I bundled all of that as I spoke my farewell message with the breathless gasps of a child who has cried for hours....yet ironically I consider it my most intimate and mature relationship encounter. By then Sandy had been unconscious for about three days, but because hearing is the last sense we lose as we exit, I wanted to give voice to my love and gratitude in a way that would reach her. Imagine -- so great a friend was brought to me through dogs.

I asked her husband to play the message to her on the day she died (January 11, my birthday). My final words to her were (in between sobs), "When you get to the other side, let me know you arrived." He played it for her that evening. She took her last breath shortly after, at 11:22 p.m.

A day or so later, just as I was waking up or seconds before-- you know that state of half sleep and half consciousness-- straddling two planes of existence -- I literally saw a typed note across the screen of my drowsy vision: It read, "Dear Lisa, I made it through to the Light, Love Sandy."

A couple of months ago I saw her husband running agility at the Eukaneuba dog show in Orlando. He came to visit us at the Irish Water Spaniel Meet the Breed booth. It was the first time I'd seen him since her funeral in Alabama. He said he had something for me and gave me a vial of her ashes. Yes. This is not a custom with which I am familar and not the custom of anyone I know, but he reserved them for me and kept the rest to give to the ocean. She wanted me to have them. I'm honored -- and I suspect that she laughed harder than she ever did in life when she saw me accept what was left of her in an old plastic prescription bottle.

She went through my life like a bullet -- a concentrated and potent energy, and I can say that in so many ways, she changed my life. Her last request was that I do a reading for her dogs, Skyler and Nicky, polar opposites. Sky was a calm boy who loved Reiki, and I've written before about Nicky, whose teeth would chatter whenever I entered the room. She wanted to know not that they would be OK without her (because she knew they would be in her husband's care), but she wanted THEM to know that they'd be fine without her physical presence. I asked Skyler, who certainly knew where "mom" was going, and his only question was who would be taking them to the vet once she was gone. I know she waited for this report so she could die peacefully.

Anyway, when I saw Ken in December, he shared with me how Sandy responded when he played my last message for her that January evening. He said although she was no longer conscious, as he held the phone to her ear, tears rolled down her cheeks. Just like they are staining mine now.

I talk to her almost every day. What's the message here? Love.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

God's Covenant with Animals in the Old Testament

What is our human responsibility to the earth and its non-human inhabitants? Traditional Biblical scholars would say one of master-servant and ecologists would say one of caretaker. However, using either frame, neither movement has responded in full view of the evidence presented throughout the Bible that God clearly included animals in covenantal relationships with Biblical scholars neglecting the sanctity of animals and secular environmentalists neglecting God. A closer look at the Old Testament reveals that God designed humankind’s role in relation to the animals as one of stewardship rather than domination. Traditionally religious people often cite Scripure justify a master/servant relationship between humans and animals rather than one of partnership, but deeper investigation invites us to see texts rich with references, both literal and figurative, to the partnership between humankind and the animal world. From Genesis through Prophets and Wisdom Literature, the writers of the O…

Living with an Old Dog: Every Moment a Blessing

This morning I thought my old girl, Ingrid, had died, and I was stunned as I tried to lift her head and leg and they just fell, heavy, onto the bed. I didn't even see her breathing. It felt as if there was no life in her body at all. I surrounded her with my body, thinking she was gone, calling her name.....and then she moved. :-'(. I thought, "this is the way I want you to leave," peacefully, without drama. Maybe she was practicing. I cried much of the morning. But she's still here....a blessing.

She turned 14 last week and quietly enjoyed a small birthday party attended by her two housemate dogs and three other dog friends.  She was subdued but enjoyed enough birthday treats to the point of vomiting them up onto the couch at midnight.  
She can no longer climb into the bed and anxiously paced back and forth along the foot board until I lifted all 50 pounds of her and she curled up and slept till morning.  On occasion I would awaken in the middle of the night to f…

Visual and Visionary Part 2: The Images

The Grief of the Pasha

by Jean Leone Gerome





The Sleeping Gypsy by Henri Rousseau


The Bear Dance by
William Holbrook Beard



Spirit Wolf
by Susan Seddon Boulet

























Calico Kitty by Georg Williams













Blue Dog (the original)
by George Rodrigue

























Bodo Flying through the Night
by Martin LaBorde