Rudy died quietly on our kitchen floor four days ago. He was our beloved dog-child-spirit-guide for nine years and five months. We knew he was staying alive for us, courageously ignoring the cancer tumors that were sprouting all over his body like popcorn. He was a magnificent animal – all 111 pounds of him. As he lay on his side, Tim gently massaged his shoulders as I caressed the spot between his ears. We thanked him and told him he was cherished and loved.
We tried not to cry or sound upset because we knew how perceptive and sensitive Rudy was to our emotions and energy. But he knew that we knew he was leaving. His eyes were open. His breath soft and easy. He was not in pain. The Vet had arrived to give him the final shot. Ronit had shared this experience with us before when Max, our Italian Mastiff, was dying and let us know he must leave. Animals do tell you when it’s time, if you allow yourself to tune-in and feel their energy.
I think of Ronit as the Guardian Angel of Animals because she radiates with a glowing peace, confidence and healing energy. She honours each patient with authentic respect for their life and their death. Ronit views euthanasia as a sacred ritual. She begins by gently speaking to the animal and massaging key meridian points to relax their body. She sprays her own blend of aromatherapy around the area – to cleanse and purify. Then, she gives a preliminary shot, a strong sedative, to ease them into a deep state of relaxation; so deep, the animal is unaware of the second, life-ending shot. I believe music helps the transition from this place to the next. I chose the mystical work of Medwyn Goodall’s Medicine Woman.
We were to wait fifteen minutes before the second injection, to allow the first shot to work. We could see Rudy’s body relax, totally and completely. He sighed, so contentedly, as though he had been released from the responsibility of worrying about us. And, I’d swear he looked at me and smiled.
Rudy’s life-force faded from his eyes. He died then, before Ronit gave him the second shot. We knew he had gone. All of us, almost in unison said, “He’s left.” Ronit listened to his heart with her stethoscope for what seemed an eternity before looking at us and saying, “Yes, he is gone.”
The body changes when the Spirit departs. Almost instantaneously it becomes an empty vessel. I always think of a butterfly in its cocoon – there is life-sustaining energy while the butterfly transforms from caterpillar. But once the butterfly has emerged, the cocoon’s energy disappears and within a few days becomes a silky dust.
Rudy’s absence is an assault to my senses and feels like multiple daggers in the heart. The silence is deafening. I had gotten so used to hearing him breathe and talk to me. I still listen for his heavy footfall as his toenails “click” across the tile floors. Not being able to look into his wise eyes is brutal. Not being able to stroke his thick beautiful coat, rub his tummy or touch his soft ears is excruciating. I have fallen into the abyss of grief and feel everything intensely. My heart, my emotions, my energy and my equilibrium are being tossed-about like a pebble caught in a tidal wave. I read once that a person cannot feel conflicting emotions at the same time. But, I believe it is possible. Grief is Sadness, Futility, Anger, Powerlessness, Despair, Exhaustion, Gratitude, Appreciation and pure Love felt all at the same time.
Rudy was one of those dogs that people described as “larger than life.” He could have been a movie star. Because we live in the tropical heat, we had his thick, Rastafarian coat shaved to look like a lion. He had a long plumed tail and a gorgeous ruff of iconic German Shepherd hair around his neck and powerful chest. Kids in the neighborhood called him The Lion King. He was regal, loyal, courageous, intelligent, kind and the giver of absolute unconditional love. He didn’t have an aggressive or mean bone in his body. We feel the absence of his loving energy everywhere in the house. I still expect him to walk into the room, wagging his lion tail, and tossing his favorite toy into the air.
Feeling grief for Rudy activates memories of past grief creating an emotional tsunami that manifests in tearless sobs while standing under the waterfall of our shower. Water and the sea are the great catalysts allowing me to fully experience the depth and breadth and height of my emotional capacity. In those moments I re-live the death of all our beloved animals. The grief escalates.
My thoughts time-travel back twenty years to the memories of Faye and John and their ability to squeeze the juice out of each precious moment even though they both faced terminal diagnosis. We lived together in a wonderful old compound perched above the sea. Faye, my grandmother, lived in the cottage. John and Paula, my Uncle and Aunt, lived in the boathouse. Every evening we would gather, six or eight or ten of us, on our deck overlooking the San Francisco Bay. We shared the day’s highlights and laughed while sipping from the juice of Napa Valley grapes. We acknowledged and dissected the absurdities of life. Tim, the wonderful man I share life with, became famous for his genuine and passionate proclamation, “Enjoy Today!”
Dis-ease, terminal illness, untimely death, ended relationships, financial stress, professional challenges and failures, even the wholly unexpected suicide of my beautiful young Aunt Paula – all are part of this wild ride though time and space.
Health, wellness, spiritual connection (I don’t mean religious, I mean a person’s ability to access their unique Spiritual Source), cherished relationships and friendships, abundance, professional and financial success, second chances at life; all are born from higher vibrational thought. The challenge always comes back to tuning-in and understanding our Emotional Guidance while we climb the Emotional Ladder, one level at a time, toward relief. We must be gentle with ourselves, extending compassion toward our setbacks and celebrating our progress.
I must climb my way up and out of this great well of grief and summon the strength and courage to reach for the next rung, then the next – climbing higher toward the Light, toward the next higher thought which resonates with elevated vibrational relief. Relief transmits as hopefulness, positive expectation, empowerment, freedom. Onward to happiness, passion, gratitude and joy for having known Rudy.
Loss, loss, loss. Even after writing the previous paragraph, I feel waist-deep in the quick-sand of grief. I can’t seem to shake-off the lower emotional vibes. Today, my thoughts are absorbed by loss. I say to self, “Damn You! You are not a novice when it comes to processing grief. You explored the deepest caverns of grief as your Mother valiantly faced cancer and died, with such Spiritual elegance. Have you learned nothing? Rudy has died, yes, but if given a choice, would you choose to erase the experience and memories of his presence and love in your life – to avoid grief? This question actually shifts my thinking. I feel a bit better as I answer, No. No. No. I would NOT erase the experience! Rudy in my life has been one of the Great Gifts of Love and lessons in Courage!
Grief crystallizes the magnificence of the gift: Exquisite Joy and Unconditional Love felt for 3435 days because of a dog named Rudyard. I invoke the power of Energy and remember The Law of Attraction: Reach for that higher feeling thought. Climb out of the abyss, one tiny step at a time.
Grief may be the “Mother Lode” of emotional experience for as we try to survive the pain and tunnel through the darkest and lowest levels of emotional vibratory experience we often excavate and feel so many, many other emotions. I have come to think of grief as The Great Tide of Source Energy - a fluid and moving experience that floods our emotional shores with intense feelings. Then, it recedes allowing us to catch our breath and feel some small measure of relief. We dig our toes into the warm sands of hope and brace ourselves for the possibility that another rogue wave of contradictory emotional experience may appear out of nowhere and obliterate the slightest movement toward feeling better.
Yet, somewhere in the Deep Knowing of our Source-Voice, we acknowledge the irrefutable Law of Nature which corresponds to The Law of Attraction: The wave, the rip-tide of grief will recede and we will be offered a sense of relief floating on the Leading Edge of Hopefulness, Understanding, Freedom and even Gratitude for the gifts of Experience which preceded the grief. The key is to release all resistance. Stop paddling against the tide. Pull your paddles into your boat and allow the power of the tide to take you on your journey – whether it is in to shore or out to sea - it will take you where you need to go. There is no right or wrong way to mourn loss.