Over the Easter weekend my beautiful little dog of 13 years, Muffin, went missing.
She had just had a bath and so was without any from of ID. Her normal collar has her name and our phone number on it. How she got out, I have no idea. She has never escaped before.
Muffin is mostly blind and deaf, and suffers dementia. She has good days and bad days. Working with her wonderful Vet, we have chosen to allow her to let us know when she is ready to leave us. I trust myself enough to know that I will know when she says in her own way that it is time.
When I went to check on her, which I do regularly, and found she was gone, I searched everywhere. I was not sure if I could trust my sense of sight and hearing…was she really gone. I found myself looking in the same places multiple times in case I had not seen her the first time.
I called my daughter to come home and help me search. We looked everywhere. We both looked in the same places …again…not trusting our senses. Did we possibly miss something?
Maybe she had run away to lie down and die? I was not sure if I was looking for her alive or dead.
We called the dog pound, which took perseverance. Ninety minutes of waiting on hold to get through. Apparently their busiest time of the year. One staff member. I found out later that this is a paid position of the local council, and that they do not accept volunteers to man the phones for missing or lost dogs. (I would have volunteered…unfortunately our society these days makes volunteering complex…will it take away from someone’s paid position…or do we need expensive insurance…so tragic and outright wrong!)
We walked the streets and talked to neighbours. At some point we didn’t know what else to do. After a time, we went out and looked again…did we miss her the first time?
And we cried. And cried.
For me it was as if someone had turned on a tap of grief and a bunch of years of held back tears came flooding out. Almost as if I needed some external event to allow a flood of suppressed emotion to explode.
I could reconcile with her dying. The difficulty I was having was that I didn’t know where she was. I didn’t know if she was suffering, lost, dazed, confused, distressed. Mostly I didn’t want to think of her dying alone.
And this is the key for me. My deeply buried sense of aloneness. I rarely get lonely. I like being on my own, like my own company… but the feeling of being alone…this has been with me most of my life.
At the same time it has been the core of my inner work. If I were a God and designing my life, and part of that life was to learn that ‘aloneness’ is my own illusion, then I would probably write a script that looks like my life.
Christine “Independent, capable, resourceful. One early marriage that lasted 3 years. One child, not by conscious design. No major male support figure in the equation. Needs to develop self reliance and the ability to create. Struggles with trusting that Universe will provide if she stays in her truth. Underline. Struggles with trusting that Universe will provide if she stays in her truth. Life lesson (at least the biggest one so far). To learn that she is not alone. She has many people to support her. Her family, her daughter, precious friends, amazing strangers, teachers alive and dead, the metaphysical, nature, beauty… And of course Universe, Great Spirit, the divine, the creative impulse…call it what you will. This, above all else. Because in this script, the main character, Christine, seeks a union with the divine above any other union. And so of course as part of this play, we would make the achievement of this union to be the ultimate struggle. And in the embodied realisation of this union, the aloneness would no longer be present. Instead, she would be in the same place as her beloved Hafiz, dancing in ecstasy with the all knowing sense of at-one-ment.
In the mean time, Christine’s archetype plays out the Bambi story. Abandoned. Alone. Even though this emotion is so well held in check. Years of practice in projecting independence and resilience. “I can manage on my own just fine, thank you very much!”
And, most of the time she can. Most of the time….”
So there were tears. And an awareness to keep moving, for sitting surely would allow more grief to overcome me. I made a cake. I cleaned. I watched ‘The Godfather’ movie. I spent hours going over in my mind the morning’s events. What happened? When did I last see Muffin? Touch her? Register her presence? I realised that I was not very present most of the morning. I couldn’t remember. I couldn’t remember when I last saw her.
I was aware that this must be what it feels like to have a child go missing. In truth, for us animal lovers, our pets are our children. We love them as much. Maybe we have a little more detachment because we always knew that their lives would be far shorter than a human. Yet the pain is the same.
Missing sleep, functioning on auto pilot, moving one foot in front of the next, I moved into Sunday. Then we got a phone call from the pound. She had been found. Someone had found her in the street outside our house. They had just dropped her off. Natalie and I were in our car and off to collect her.
We cried again when we saw her. She was distressed, dazed. But she knew it was us. It took about 6 hours to get her to calm down. 24 hours before she started eating. She is back now to her normal self. And while her days are numbered, we have made a pact that when her time is up, she will die with us present. Not alone. I will be ready for that.
As to me, the journey continues to end my separation from the divine.
Tripping over Joy
What is the difference
Between your experience of Existence
And that of a saint?
The saint knows
That the spiritual path
Is a sublime chess game with God
And that the Beloved
Has just made such a Fantastic Move
That the saint is now continually
Tripping over Joy
And bursting out in Laughter
And saying, “I surrender!”
Whereas, my dear,
I am afraid you still think
You have a thousand serious moves.
Hafiz, Translated by Daniel Ladinsky