Last week, out of nowhere, one of our dogs suddenly died without giving any warning whatsoever. From one day to the next, just gone.
As I spend time reflecting on this incident, I think about the fact that’s when death is hardest to deal with, when it gives no warning, no anticipation, no notice, nada. It just creeps up and pulls the f…ing rug from under you.
It’s not that I don’t know and I am unaware of death’s unexpected visits because I know them too well. Death, the unwelcome and unwanted guest always showing up without invitation.
Many would say and have implied, “It was just a dog,” but that provides zero consolation. If anything, those words are extremely hurtful and take away from the absolute worth of this creature who was part of our daily lives and who loved all of us unconditionally.
Some would say that on the spectrum, this was a ‘smaller’ death if any such thing exists. Small deaths, such as the death of the animals we sacrifice for consumption, of the creatures whose lives we take without second thought like that cucaracha quickly stepped on or the fly swiftly swatted.
The death of a dog feels more like a mid-sized death bringing with it a wave of grief and of sadness and of loneliness.
The sudden death of my canine companion bringing with it the reminder that there are ‘larger’ deaths to come for there are always ‘big’ deaths looming around the corner.
The death of my dog reminding me about the importance of life, of dreams unmet, and of those I love and cherish. Reminding me that there’s still time for the repairing of broken relationships and the mending of still-broken hearts. A quick slap in the face shouting to me in so many words to remember and continue to connect with my father and mother who still walk upon this Earth. But, even that thought assumes a set hierarchy or pattern to death that usually does not conform to any type of prediction or sequence.
The death of a dog making me feel so small as I realize that life is fleeting, nothing and no one is eternal.
I think about the Red Road and much of my life spent connected to ceremony. It is not that Indigenous ways are morbid with their teaching to live life as if it was your last. No, this is an important teaching that reminds us that life is unpredictable filled with many twists and turns so you better live every day in the best way that you can, even when things are tough, even when you are lonely, even when you are sick, even when getting through one day feels difficult. Death reminds us that each day spent walking upon Mother Earth is a privilege.
So I take this moment to thank my four-legged friend for his companionship over the years and his absolute acceptance, something so rarely exhibited by the human kind.
I keep thinking that maybe my unconscious slightly bruja being had already perceived something for the last time I saw him I took the time to look deeply into his honey brown eyes, gently patted him on the head, and hugged his stinky body covered with a winter’s coat of matted fur. I’ll always remember how that damned dog looked back at me as if I was the best human on this Earth.
Rez from Tse-ya-toh, you will be dearly missed and I will use this as a vital lesson to not let the days pass by without intent, appreciation, happiness (I’m trying), and love.