All week long my dead dog and I hung out on the beach.
Except she wasn’t dead.
And it wasn’t bitter winter.
It was that glorious time, mid-September, when the world bathes in amber sun poured from the cosmic alignment of earth being right there.
We were both so much younger, thinner, more agile.
We were the only ones on our favorite beach.
We skipped circles around one another, down sand as soft and gray as rabbit fur.
The Insight Timer app I purchased offers guided meditations. I did a six minute guided meditation about accepting and loving my inner child. I chose it because it was only six minutes. The woman’s silky voice prompted me to imagine a safe place, so I went to the beach. Then she prompted me to imagine someone I love who brings me joy and comfort. My little, black lab mix suddenly appeared.
My dog died three years ago, after spending 16 years with me as my beloved companion. She was like my sister. She knew all my secrets. She was with me through more loss, loneliness, and drama than I care to remember. In my memory, her presence softens those years of confused dissatisfaction.
I struggled with her when she was elderly. Already caring for a busy and head strong toddler, I was challenged to remain compassionate towards my dog when she lost control of her bladder and bowels and crapped all over my carpet multiple times daily. Sadly, I was not always compassionate towards her. There were times when I was blatantly exhausted and mean and I didn’t want her to be my friend anymore.
If there is hell and I have to go there, I will be forced to watch myself be mean and angry towards my dog, over and over for all eternity.
When she finally died, it happened in my arms. It was really peaceful and loving. I guess you could call it a good death, but her passing left me with the most profound sense of loss I’d ever known. A week later I discovered I was pregnant with my daughter, and I couldn’t help but wonder if it was my dog coming back to me in another form. Maybe it was just the universe smiling on me, or maybe it was just equilibrium reestablished.
Regardless, I felt terrible full-body pain of losing her for months. I don’t know if I ever fully “got over” her death, and I think a lot of that had to do with how frustrated I was with her as an elderly animal, how limited I was in my ability to care for her the way she needed.
When meditation returned her to me, it was immediate and unexpected joy. It was such a contrast to the guilt and pain I normally experience when I think about her. She was smiling, in that way dogs smile. She skipped around me in circles as I leapt and pranced down the beach. Even now, remembering this exquisite vision, I find the corners of my mouth twitching up in a smile. I’ve been able to go back there, too, anytime I want to just close my eyes and be with her.
It’s like a little pocket of peace and happiness in my mind.