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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.

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