It’s now been two and a half weeks since my beloved Emma left her body, and this 3-D world, behind. At this point, I feel her hovering above my left shoulder, a tiny tinkerbell and bright, bright spirit!
It’s been a wild ride. Tsunamis of feeling rising and receding, over and over, day by day, and yet more and more upon a distant shore. In part, I credit the relative ease of transition to the distance Reiki healings being generously gifted to me by Dawn, a reader of this site, from England. Thank you thank you!
I still avoid long daily walks, as every step would remind me of her. Instead, I bike. For the same reason, driving the car is difficult, since her little behind isn’t planted on the other front seat, front paws on the armrest, nose out the window. I still notice that without her I sometimes feel much more alone, and even lonely, even a bit crazy, unbalanced. I don’t think that’s the grief. I think that’s the state I used to be in most of the time, pre-Emma! Somehow, her little animal body was what I needed to get and stay sane. To feel grounded, at ease in physical reality. She was my soul companion, and our continuous loving meditation my comfort food in a world gone apparently mad.
And yet, and yet. A few days after her dramatic, shocking departure, I was on my bike in the early morning, and came across a black man and his son by the Jordan River (really, a creek), on the IU campus behind the campus union building, near one of Emma’s swimming holes. They were taking each others’ photos. I stopped my bike, and spontaneously, casually, as if Emma was with me, asked them if they would like me to take their picture. They would. A wonderful, easy, five-minute conversation ensued.
As I rode away, all of a sudden I realized what I had just done: I had just applied what Emma had taught me to a real-life situation, and I did it without her as my “Ambassador of Love”! Her presence had made it easy to talk with whoever came along. No one was a stranger when we could all relate through a joyful little dog.
It wasn’t as if I hadn’t stopped at other times in my life, pre-Emma, to ask if two people, taking each other’s pictures, might like me to take one of both of them. But always, the question had been stilted, and polite, as was the answer. And whether or not I took the picture, our connection felt awkward.
Somehow, Emma was now showing me that already, she had transferred all that was in her to give to the world. That flowing connection, that joie de vivre gracing her every move. Already! Only a few days after her departure, and despite my near-crippling grief, I felt abundant and generous. You can imagine my gratitude.
But then, of course, within a minute or two, the reality of her absence again crashed in. And of course, during those early days, a huge part of me wanted to just “replace” her with another dog, so that I could just continue on with that feeling of being plugged into love. The pain of losing her so intense and hard to bear. I’d look at what was available locally at the pound, and on petfinder.com. I’d wonder about breeds. Another coton? A coton mix? Some other small breed or small breed mix? A lot of my waking time went into these kinds of questions.
In the past few days my sister Kathy has been urging me to get another dog. Says that it would be the most worthy tribute to Emma. Well, yes. But not yet. I need to see my way through this interregnum period, where I am honoring her memory and integrating her bright spirit into my being.
Even during those early days when I was thinking about replacing her right away, a whiff of something more profound would steal in. The recognition that, oh my god, there are so many dogs in the world that need homes. So many! Everywhere I look, dogs, dogs, all of them ambassadors of the love that runs through the universe. All of them such gracious gifts to us humans who so rarely appreciate what they bring to us, the endless river of love that runs on beneath our egos, that precious precious feeling of connection, body to body, soul to soul. That unnoticed mysterious unity that fuels life, no matter what form it takes. Little Emma was the universal love, configured into a certain little white squirming precious warm form; another dog will remind me of Emma in the endless love he or she will share; the self-same river of unconditional concern, housed in a new and and unfamiliar form. And not just dogs, but all animals, all of them, gifting the human race with their sharing of spontaneous, uninhibited life, undisguised by the contortions of “self-awareness.” It’s the form we get attached to, forgetting that love’s abundance is infinite — even bigger than the overwhelming number of dogs who need us to give them homes.
This afternoon, as I was writing this piece, a peculiar grace, unannounced. Baby badger, on the sill of my living room picture window. Looking right at me. Astonished. I burst into tears.