Our dog passed away 6 weeks ago. He was my baby. He was my husband’s best friend and constant companion. In the last two months of his life, our dog was very sick and needed assistance to do routine things. We never left him alone during this time. We were very present—not just in physical proximity, but also in consciousness. He needed us to be wholly present, and so we were.
Although this was a painful time, I must admit that it was also one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. There was a feeling of total unconditional love and compassion. Taking care of our dog allowed me to participate in that intense love and pure attention every day.
I remember when my mother was dying, I had a conversation with the Guide about it. My mother and I had a very strained relationship, and in her final days she was often confused and fearful. At one point, I had to make the decision not to see her, as my presence seemed only to upset her further. The Guide said something to me like: “If we get beyond things like time and space, then what matters is the love and compassion you may be able to give to your mother no matter where she is.”
This meant a great deal to me. Yes, I thought. I can look into my heart and find some piece that is authentic about our relationship that is made of love and compassion, and I can send that to my mother. And so I did. I did it every day, as often as I could. And when my mother died, I had been involved in the practice of love and compassion instead of regret or anger. There was only love. A sense of peacefulness came over me. I hoped my mother felt it, too.
This experience comes back to me as I grieve for our sweet dog. The time we spent caring for him was a deep experience of love and compassion. If I go beyond time and space, then I can still participate in that love and compassion. His body has died, and he is not here in this world in the same way. But I can still love him. I can still love him and feel the love. The love doesn’t die. The love can never die. It goes beyond bodies and time and space.
I am so grateful for practice. I am grateful that I had a reflective listening buddy to help me in this process. I’m grateful for the Guide. I am grateful for everyone in our Sangha.