Beautiful and Loving Soul

The loss of a pet affects us profoundly and it is all too easy to blame ourself, telling ourself we should have done more of this and less of that. This moving personal account of the loss of a beloved pet explores the gift of self-forgiveness that is key to our relationship with our four-legged companions.

The universe is an indivisible whole in which all things are interconnected - Eckhart Tolle.

 

 Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep – by Mary Frye

Do not stand at my grave and weep.

I am not there; I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft star that shines at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry;

I am not there; I did not die.

 

Wednesday saw me clawing my way up a shrub-covered cliff and back down again, holding onto tree branches and clumps of grass to stop myself from hurtling down helter-skelter and out of control.

Walking up the river, gingerly stepping from slippery rock to slippery rock, almost losing my footing on more than a few occasions.

Wading knee deep, grasping onto a conveniently-placed rock to keep me upright and my head above water when I slipped and fell.

It was like something out of an action movie.

Only I didn’t get to play the part of a hero.

To my sorrow I wasn’t able to bring my beautiful and loving dog back still breathing.

 

My first impulse was to keep this story – the circumstances of my beloved dog’s passing – quiet.

To only tell the few who I had called asking for help – before my phone got wet and gave out on me – what really happened.

Not that I was planning to tell any lies. Just not to tell the full truth.

“Pimo died on Wednesday,” I practiced saying, not filling in any of the details.

 

At first this impulse arose from an instinct for self-protection.

I knew that in retelling the story I would relive the events and feel the pain – especially the self-recrimination – all over again.

I think there was also a fear of people’s judgement mixed in there.

“What a bad dog owner,” I could imagine them saying. “Who in their right mind would take an aging dog to such a place?”

Well, they may be right. I have mourned my apparent foolishness.

But as my former partner said, as he sat with me by the body and we lit candles and incense, it is that streak in me, that makes the usually sensible and responsible person I am do something so lacking in good sense and judgement that afterwards I wonder what on earth I could have been thinking while – at the time of doing it – being sure that it’s a good idea, that made me the prefect parent for Pimo.

It usually is a good idea to be honest.

It’s just that sometimes they  backfire and go wrong.

 

Maybe what I am lacking is foresight.

But I’m glad I allow myself to listen to the whispers of my heart, and don’t automatically list up everything that could go wrong.

This streak in me represents a love of freedom; for Pimo as much as for me.

It is this streak in me that gave her richness of life; a richness encompassing both good and bad.

 

It is thanks to this that she spent hours roaming the hills leashless when she was younger. Going where she pleased when she pleased, as I sat with a book open on my lap in the shade of a tree on the mountain road calling her name from time to time to let her know where I was.

It is thanks to this that she got to revel in rolling around in a rotting fish by the river one time and animal feces in the mountains another; completely ignoring my calls for her to come, absorbed in her delight.

It is thanks to this that she continued to get let off her lead at all – even though I knew that she was the one calling the shots once she was out there and couldn’t be trusted to reliably respond to my “commands.”

It is thanks to this that she returned to me once with balls of ice the size of my fist attached to the fur on her stomach, completely unrepentant for having been “missing in action” for seven hours as she chased animal tracks in the snow.

And it is also thanks to this that she fell to her death on Wednesday, slipping on legs that were old and tired and no longer able to fully grasp the Earth.

 

The day started off in an uneventful way. It was hot and humid and I woke up not feeling inclined to do any of the things I had planned. I’d been missing my time in nature recently and thought how nice it would be to go somewhere and rejuvenate by restoring my connection to the Earth.

Somewhere with water, I thought. What could be nicer than sitting by a river on a hot summer’s day?

For some reason I decided to take Pimo with me, even though I’ve been leaving her sleeping at home more and more in recent weeks.

I thought she could do with the time in nature, too. And maybe I was harking back to former days when we’d enjoying exploring the outdoors together.

So into the car we got, with windows wide open so she wouldn’t overheat. A secluded place where we could get down by the river had sprung to mind, and it was there that we headed.

She made it down to the river on her old and tired legs quite well.

She tripped a couple of times, but I only had to carry her in one place where the steps were gone and there was a steep bank. I carefully made my way down, feeling each step. We arrived at the river edge without incident and I was enjoying the feeling of being out in nature with Pimo again, though it did cross my mind that we were rather unprotected if a bear should chance to come along.

We sat; me with my feet in the river, Pimo cooling down in a shallow pool of water.

At one point a bird appeared from between rocks taller than me, that formed a narrow channel through which the river ran downstream. I wondered if it was a message, and felt a slight sense of unease. But not being sure what it could mean we stayed a while longer until Pimo seemed to get a bit restless and I carried her back to the road above.

If only I had left it there, my day would have had the sated feeling of an afternoon spent in nature I envisioned when I left home. But I thought it would be nice for us to sit a while longer, and we carefully made our way to a rock that overlooked the river. We didn’t stay long for Pimo seemed restless again. I carried her back to what I thought was a safe spot, put her down on the ground and we had hardly walked a few steps when she slipped and fell.

And the rest of the story you pretty much know.

 

We were too far for anyone to reach us easily, and nobody I managed to call was available to come.

There was only me and the wilderness, and the glimpse of her collar halfway down the cliff.

And that is where I made a terrible mistake.

Instead of trusting myself to be able to get down the cliff to her, I ran down the steps and tried to make my way up.

But I’d misjudged the place and found myself back at the top too far downstream, having wasted precious time. By the time I got to her collar she had slipped through it, and nor could I find her anywhere as I stumbled and slipped the rest of the way down the cliff.

As I continued to search I struggled with blame and self-recrimination:

What on earth was I thinking to bring her to such a place?

Why did I put her down when I did?

Why didn’t I carry her for just another minute? Or all the way back to the car?

Why didn’t I go straight down the cliff to where I could see the red of her collar? If I’d have done that, I probably would have been in time.

Why do I always make the wrong decision at such critical junctures?

Why didn’t I take the time to pause and center and ask for guidance before I decided on my course of action?

Why didn’t I ask my guides and the angels for help sooner, rather than nearly an hour later when I finally came out of the river still not having found her?

Why hadn’t I been more loving with her, more understanding of her condition?

Why did I let her feel my impatience when she stepped in her food and smeared it all over the kitchen floor that morning?  Why wasn’t I gentler with her; kinder; more patient?

Why didn’t I leave her safe and sound at home?

How could I have done such a stupid thing?

And so it went on.

 

In the meantime, someone I had called had called someone else and he arrived on the scene in his truck.

When we finally found her in the river, she was no longer breathing. Her face wore the same gentle and peaceful expression as usual, and if you didn’t know any better you would think she was sleeping.

I brought her home and wiped her down with a towel. I almost expected her to give a little cough and start breathing. But some things cannot be so easily undone.

 

I spent the first 24 hours blaming myself, interspersed with moments of being more mindful.

I remembered a talk I had listened to only a couple of days before about how animals know they are eternal beings and do not have the same feelings about death as we do. I remembered how fiercely Esther Hicks had told the gentleman in question to stop mourning the “bunny” he had run over, replaying the incident over and over again in his mind. I thought how similar that was to my self-blame and recrimination and resolved to stop punishing myself in this way. I could torment myself for weeks and years, but it still wouldn’t change what had happened.

And I know for sure this isn’t the legacy my beautiful and loving dog would have wished to leave me with.

 

Finally coming into my Higher Self, I recited the Ho’oponopono statements. “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.”

I just kept on telling my beautiful and precious (dog-)child over and over again how much I was grateful for her presence in my life, for all the many gifts she has given me.

I asked the gleaming full moon to clear both her karma and mine. I asked that this be done through this lifetime and all others; past, present, and future.

I told Pimo how much I loved her, and that that would never change.

I thanked her for continuing to be with me in Spirit.

I took comfort in the fact that if she is one with the Universe and so am I, then essentially we are one even though she is no longer a physical presence in my world.

 

I messaged a friend and spiritual teacher, Reba Linker , who I know has faced the passing of her own four-legged companions, asking if there was anything I should do to help ease Pimo’s passing. She wrote back to me with these words that continue to help me to frame this in a way that doesn’t make Pimo the victim and me the villain, or even both of us victims:

“The most important thing is self-forgiveness. There often are things we wish we had done differently and that is part of the experience. Self-forgiveness is what is needed and what is – absolutely – deserved. Things could not have been otherwise. All is as it is supposed to be. All is right. All is well.

Pimo left you in a way that felt right to her. Perhaps she did not need to experience, or perhaps she did not want to burden you with a more drawn-out decline of health.

She wants you to be happy, of course. She loves you, forever. And she is with you, always…

Mostly, take care of you. This just happened. It’s a shock, for sure. Be gentle with yourself.”

 

I have taken these wise and loving words to heart with gratitude. I have been gentle with myself. I have stopped my train of thought each time it heads towards and/or gets caught up in self-blame and recrimination. I have reframed the thought instead.

I have taken strength and comfort in my trust in the Universe’s divine plan. I have assuaged my pain with all that I know of the Universe’s perfect timing, and how everything in our lives is unfolding for our greatest and highest good.

I know that that includes for Pimo’s greatest and highest good.

She is a child of the Universe, too.

 

Doing this enabled me to stop fighting reality.

There is still a part of me that is in shock and pain, and wishes it didn’t have to be this way. But there is a greater part of me that trusts the Universe and all that has been revealed to me over the past few years.

That part of me tells me that everything is exactly as it should be. It reminds me to focus on all the things I’m grateful to Pimo for and the purity of the love we shared. When I do this I am able to be strong and feel cleansed inside. This is the lesson of self-forgiveness my friend spoke of. This is what I am here to learn: to love myself no matter what.

 

When I was feeling slightly calmer and more centered in my own energy again, I asked to be able to see the incident with the eyes of Spirit.

How much of it came from Spirit I can’t say for sure, but the next day after I had buried Pimo in my pottery teacher’s garden I came home and felt an urge to lay down where I had laid her the night before and where she so often slept. I was struck by the fact that all I could see were the brown speckled walls of my classroom and the clock ticking on the wall. It struck me that this wasn’t a place for a dog to live out her days or to draw her last breath. I wondered if she chose to go surrounded by beauty and nature. I wondered if she chose to go in such an abrupt and shocking way because she knew that otherwise I would find it too hard to let go.

 

One thing I am certain of is that she knew how much I loved her.

 

I am trying not to see her death as tragic. I am trying not to think of how I wanted to hold her to the end and help ease her passing, letting her know that she was loved and safe.

I am trying and succeeding in not letting this moment define me and my relationship with her. I know her life was richer for knowing me, as mine was for knowing her. That helps me not to condemn myself. That helps me not to get caught up in the story of how much I “failed” her.

 

I am remembering these often-repeated words:

“In the end all that matters is how much you have loved.”

I know that as a result of my relationship with Pimo I have known the beauty of love blossoming within my own heart. I am grateful for the unconditional nature of the love she gave me so abundantly in return.

I am remembering the many times I told her silently in my heart: “Pimo, you go when you are ready. You don’t need to hang on for me. As long as you want to remain here with me, I’ll treasure our time together. But you don’t need to stay beyond when you want to out of a sense of obligation. I love you dearly, but I’ll be okay.”

 

I’m hoping she chose what was best for her.

 

I’m certain that even though I couldn’t be with her, she knew in the moment of her passing how dearly she was loved.

 

I’m thankful for the time we had, and know that we share a bond that reaches beyond this lifetime.

 

Not only do I love Pimo, I also continue to love myself.

The self-recrimination resurfaces, comes and goes like a wave. But I love myself enough to know I did the best I could, mistakes in judgement notwithstanding.

I love myself no matter what my role in the incident may or may not have been.

 

I am choosing to actively demonstrate that love by giving myself the gift of self-forgiveness.

I am engulfing myself in love. Giving myself this gift of self-forgiveness as many times as needed, over and over again.

 

We have all done things that make us afflict ourself with self-blame and recrimination.

Guilt and the heaviness it encumbers us with is not what the Universe, (or our beloved ones who have passed before us), desire us to experience. It is time for us to put down that load; to release it and let it go.

I invite you to put down your burdens of guilt; engulf yourself in love.

Give yourself the gift of self-forgiveness. Wherever it is needed. Over and over again.

The Flower of Life

A poem with all the makings of a modern day fairy tale that celebrates diversity, living as one, and the philosophy that "I am another you, you are another me." Written in response to current events, the author wishes to see healing for the world and people living as one.
Image courtesy of riverfox1 on Deviant Art – http://fav.me/d60t770.

In a quiet forest glade where emerald light filtered through the foliage of graceful boughs and the air was still and silent but for the distant drone of bees, there grew a flower called the flower of life.

Few ventured as far this clearing, but those who did were touched by its magic.

One imagined the Ancients must have roamed here. The air was heavy with awe and wonder. It seeped into the soul and cleaved hearts open with the rich fullness of presence.

None who wandered here left the same person they were when they came. Softened by their encounter with the sacred presence of Nature they went back into the world purer of heart; carrying the silence of the glade deep within their being.

The flower of life stood in the center of the clearing.

She was said to be a mirror through which one could look upon the world.

To look on her was to look on beauty.

Amidst the cool green of the ferns and the dark undergrowth, she rose with a singular grace; each of her petals shimmering in a unique and lustrous color.

Crimson, emerald, sapphire, violet, apricot, amber, citron, rose, white, black, silver, gold. All of these colors and more. Each petal its own distinct color, coming together in a harmonious whole.

As she absorbed the emerald light that reached down through the trees the flower of life shone in a exquisite kaleidoscope of vibrant color, each hue enriching the others as she danced and swayed in the slight breeze that gently whispered to her.

 

Her beauty was sonorous, calling the light to her.

And as she absorbed the light she became still more beautiful.

The light wasn’t the only thing which responded to her resonant call.

Honey bees drunk on her goodness weaved about her gracefully. Hummingbirds and butterflies with iridescent wings flocked here and frolicked too, for her nectar was sweet and tender, a joy to all.

The morning dew loved to linger on her unfurling petals, and even the breeze seemed to slow its step so it could dance with her a while.

And in the midst of all this richness and diversity of color, the flower of life bloomed in an everlasting celebration of the richness and diversity of life.

 

Until…

one day…

 

the violet and indigo petals got together and decided they didn’t like the sapphire petal.

There was no particular reason. Maybe they were jealous that the darting dragonflies appeared to alight on her more, seemingly preferring her radiance to their own.

Maybe they were simply locked in their fear of this color that was – to them – unknown.

Whatever their reasons, bit by bit they staved off her nutrition.

The sapphire petal, denied of her source of vitality, valiantly tried to continue to shine, to contribute her unique beauty to the magnificence of the whole. But cut off from her source of nutrition, it wasn’t long before the glistening sapphire petal slowly faded to a washed-out cornflower blue.

As more time passed she drooped and listed…

Finally, she fell to the ground.

 

 

It was a sad moment for the flower of life.

 

 

Not only had she lost one of her petals, but a darkness that wasn’t present before now imbued the violet and indigo petals, changing the way they refracted the light.

 

The intensity of her radiance had diminished a little. But still she shone brightly and the winged creatures continued to come, to drink deeply of her pure nectar and absorb her beautiful light.

 

Unfortunately, the tinge of darkness wasn’t content with being a tinge. It saw for itself a bigger future. In an effort to tarnish the radiance of the flower, it emanated spots of darkness that fell on the gold petal with its head upturned to receive the light.

 

The darkness encountered the light, and – for the moment – the darkness won.

The gold petal decided that it didn’t like the silver petal.

Saturated with superiority, it could no longer see her beauty as anything other than inferior to its own.

 

In a story that has told itself over and over again since time begun, the gold petal began to assert her dominion and power. She cruelly cut off the nutrition to the silver petal.

Before long the flower of life mourned the loss of another of her petals.

 

 

And how she mourned.

 

 

Now it was the apricot petal’s turn to devour the darkness and make it her own.

“If I absorb the radiance of the crimson, amber, citron and rose petals and assimilate them, I’ll be a match for the brilliance of the violet, gold and indigo petals,” she reasoned. “Then will I shine in splendor. The vividness of my color will capture the eyes and hearts of all.”

And so she began her own story of supremacy, drawing the essence of the other colors in to enrich her own.

 

In the process she acquired more of the darkness; for she was motivated by selfish gain, instead of a wish to shine brightly so she could contribute to and enhance the brilliance of the whole.

 

And as the crimson, amber, citron and rose petals all lent their radiance to the apricot petal, they lost their own. The flower of life was left a shadow of the flower she was before.

 

 

And how she mourned.

 

 

The birds, bees and butterflies stopped coming to visit, for they couldn’t stand the conflict and fighting.

Besides, the tinge of darkness that suffused so many of the petals had turned the nectar sour.

 

The flower grieved.

And then she grieved some more.

 

She missed the winged creatures who drank of her goodness and delighted her with their pranks and quirks and beauty.

She missed the gentle whir of their wings, and the way the air they generated fanned her petals, making them dance with unbridled joy.

 

She missed the radiance of her own beauty, its brilliant kaleidoscope of colors.

She missed the refraction of light as it spun its magic across her many-hued petals.

 

She missed her long, eloquent conversations with the dew that lingered in the mornings.

She missed cavorting with the wind on long and languid summer evenings.

 

She missed knowing herself as having value, contributing to the world with the sweetness of her nectar, with her beauty that uplifted all.

She missed the sense of knowing who she was, and of having purpose.

 

 

In her sadness she began to droop and wither.

Her life-force felt stilted.

She no longer knew who or what she was living for.

One by one her remaining petals fell to the ground.

 

Hours turned into days and they were chased away by the wind.

Finally, the flower’s stalk, too, was blown away.

All that remained of her was unseen and unknown.

 

 

The flower still grieved, taking her pain with her into the ground where she lay dormant.

 

Mother Earth cradled her in her arms, and tried to nurture her back to wholeness.

Weeks and months passed and the rain washed away the pain and the grief.

At times the rain ran in rivulets so deep they cleansed even the memories of pain.

And one day the wind blew away the last remnants of darkness, and the emerald light poured its goodness into the clearing again.

 

Restorative light which warmed the earth and extended its reach down to the the seed of the flower, who felt the life begin to stir in her anew.

 

After some days had passed she tentatively pushed a young, green shoot above surface.

 

It quivered in the wind, drunk deeply of the rain, basked in the sun; it loved it all.

It reached up to the emerald light, gaining ground every day.

 

The flower of life felt the joy in it all. Felt a deep urge to burst forth in flower again.

 

In her joy, she found courage.

 

From her stalk emerged a single petal.

A single petal that contained all the hues of the ones before.

 

The different colors merged together so you couldn’t tell where one ended and the next one began; their existence inextricably bound together.

Each one resplendent in its own beauty, each made more magnificent in its synergy with the whole.

 

A single petal of iridescent light.

Indescribably sublime.