I wrote about her death after she was hit by a delivery truck in our driveway.
I wrote about forgiving the driver.
I wrote about how I handled her death and held her body and buried her in the center of my medicine wheel garden.
I haven’t yet written about the solo, 3600 mile, healing pilgrimage that I made to sacred places in Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana after her death. But, I will.
I’m not overstating it when I say that her death and the circumstances surrounding her death were some of the most painful and transformational events of my life. There was something mystical about it. Here is the next chapter:
On June 1st, while I was wandering around Badlands National Park, breathing in the energy and working on clearing my heart of the oppressive grief that I felt, 5 puppies were born in Colorado. They were Jack Russell Terriers from the same family as our dogs Chili (also a devastating loss in 2013), Junior and Ember.
My friends Darlene and Mike, sent me photos of the new puppies. They were also grieving Ember’s loss along with us. She was ‘their dog’, too as she had come from their kennel.
I had no desire for a puppy anytime soon. The wound was still too raw. I wanted to take plenty of time to allow the grieving process to unfold. I knew that healing would happen with time. We would be a one dog family for a year or so.
When these puppies reached about 6 weeks, Darlene told me that one of them, a little boy, had a heart murmur and needed to be checked out by a cardiologist. Many times puppies will outgrow a minor heart murmur and so I wished her well and didn’t think about it again.
A week later, she had an appointment with a specialty clinic in Denver to have him checked out. Driving to the clinic, she was caught in traffic. An accident had closed the freeway and she wasn’t able to get to the appointment.
Frantically, she called a terrier owning friend who recommended another specialty clinic north of Denver with a great cardiologist and she was able to get an appointment.
At that clinic, they were told that “Dipstick” as they’d started calling him due to his black tail, was in congestive heart failure. He had a large hole in his heart. Surgery, costing thousands of dollars was the only thing that would save his life. He was 9 weeks old.
They admitted that they just couldn’t swing that amount of money for the pup. It was a horrible decision to have to make, but the cardiologist was so taken with Dipstick, she said they would do the surgery, no charge. Out of the blue. Just like that. They said, “we’ll save him”.
And they did. As soon as he was out of surgery, his BP and heart rate were normal. He was up and eating within 24 hours. A miracle.
The docs said the hole was so big that they couldn’t fix it laparoscopically; they had to open him up and use sutures to close the hole in his heart. The entire team was in the operating room, watching and rooting for “Dippy” as they called him.
I had no idea that all of this was happening, other than being told that he needed this surgery and that this group of wonderful angels had offered to save his life.
I was telling my husband this story and told him that once he was healed, they would place him in a good home. He said “Did you raise your hand?” This comment was from a man who fought me on every single puppy that I’ve brought home. Who declared loudly after every pet loss, “NO NEW DOGS”.
I hadn’t spoken one word about a new puppy after we lost Ember. It was still too painful for me and I knew what his reaction would be.
So, the next morning, I meditated on this. I had decided that we should wait on another puppy. I was hoping for another girl dog. I didn’t think we had taken enough time to grieve and adapt to our new normal.
But, as I sat in meditation, I heard this: “You all have a hole in your heart and so does he. You can heal your hearts together”. Truly. That is exactly what came to me.
This little dog was full of magic. He had such a strong spirit to survive for so long with a hole in his heart. His spirit reached out and grabbed a group of veterinarians when they saw him and propelled them to do a wondrous and compassionate and extraordinarily generous thing. That is some very good mojo.
I have no doubt that part of that strength and part of that charm came from Ember’s spirit visiting him. I see Chili’s sweet, wise soul in his eyes.
Mojo saw his docs last Thursday and they declared him cured. Fixed. Ready for a long and vivacious terrier life. I’m told some of them had tears in their eyes when they saw how lively and happy he is with his strong, healthy heart.
There is something mystical about this story. When I weave it all together and see the unseen forces working to bring this pup to us, I’m in awe.
Had he not been sick. Had Darlene not missed the first appointment. Had I not sat in meditation. And yes, had we not lost Ember. Life is so uncontrollable and mixed up and perfect.
He will come to live with us very soon. He has to. Spirit wouldn’t have it any other way.
It feels as if we are being overtaken by chaos. The massive, scary and often, violent events in the world seem as if they are happening in more rapid succession than ever. Shootings, bombings, coups, Brexit, riots; a global primal scream that we can watch in real time, all over the world.
My husband mentioned Armageddon or apocalypse the other day while we were watching the news out of Nice, France and then Turkey the next day. I started thinking about that.
Many have predicted ‘the end times’ in scripture (not necessarily Christian, but that too) and various prophesies. They usually have a similar theme: “God” sends a flood or famine or wars or Christ, etc. to cleanse us, so that we can begin again with a kinder, gentler humanity.
So, maybe that IS what’s happening. Maybe this IS Armageddon or some sort of ‘end times’. It all feels very Old Testament right now. Wars, retribution, tribalism, closing borders, shutting down, pulling inward. FEAR, FEAR, FEAR! ANGER, ANGER, ANGER!
We hear calls for ‘tougher’ leaders. Someone who will shut us in our castle and fill the moat with alligators and land mines to keep the bad guys out. We’ll close ourselves off because the rest of the world doesn’t have our best interests at heart. THEY WANT TO KILL US!
Tribal. Low energy. Not taking responsibility for our past actions. Not recognizing that our aggression and arrogance may have caused and fostered much of this violence.
There are many stories of these types of societies and kingdoms in the Bible and they are usually beset with horrors from God as punishment, until they are eradicated or they repent.
So, is this what’s happening? Is this the proverbial flood that washed the earth clean for Noah? It’s interesting that many of the most devout are not seeing their culpability in many of our current conflicts. It’s ‘everyone else’.
The ‘end times’ are supposedly paving the way for the return of Christ. But, many feel that he will not return as a man or a woman or a human, but instead as a consciousness. Christ Consciousness. We carry this consciousness and can all become Christ like. We love, forgive, realize our connections to all that is. We care for everyone and everything. We see the earth as a living, breathing entity, rather than something to pillage and crap on.
We truly love our neighbors, even if we don’t much like them or agree with them. We treat them with empathy and respect. All of the things that Jesus taught us the first time around, will flower in the consciousness and energy of man.
This is also the prophecy of ‘the new age’ that many feel is upon us. Maybe this is the complete chaos and degradation that has to happen in order for us to rise from the ashes. We have to get so sick of the dysfunction, lies, violence, anger, hatred, barbarism and hypocrisy that we finally surrender; we ‘see the light’, we alter our outlook and reactions and begin to see that love is our true nature.
It’s what all of the ancient texts of every religion and spiritual teachings say. Love yourself because God loves you. Love your fellow humans, love the earth, love nature, love your enemies. Can you imagine what would happen if we all just followed the basic rules laid out since the beginning of time?
What if we stopped digging in our heels about our political beliefs? What if we began to find our commonality? What if we all just admitted that we’re scared shitless right now and that we know in our gut that in order to change the world, we have to heal ourselves, first and foremost. What if we just admitted that we know damned well that no politician is going to fix this huge, monstrous, complex, corrupt, crazy world?
Again, I will use this word: surrender. Surrender to your inner light that says more love is necessary. That anger and hating makes you feel awful and is the real root of our collective pain. We WANT to love and be loved. We want to live peacefully and in order to do that, we have to surrender to our true nature.
Yes, I’m a dreamer. I know that you’re saying I’m naïve and it’s ‘kill or be killed’. But at some point, we do have to alter this path of escalation and retribution because it’s causing more and more and more trauma and trauma causes people to behave badly.
We are processing thousands of years of human history right now. That’s what’s happening. We’ve reached a breaking or tipping point where the vast majority of humans on this planet have collectively realized their ancestral pain and have begun expressing it. The light bulb has gone off and they see that they are not benefiting from modern life in the ways that they were promised.
All of this chaos is necessary. It’s shining a light on people’s pain and suffering; we can’t fix that, until we acknowledge it. So, here we are, all of us standing in that bright light and we can’t get away. That’s as it should be. Allow the light to cleanse and infuse your spirit and then go shine it on the world.
I was just reading an article about dog behavior. Most things in the world come down to animals for me, particularly dogs, but this concept struck me as a perfect example of some insight into the question that has become our national mantra: “What is wrong with people”?
Seems that puppies have these two times during their development, when a fear response can become ingrained and turn into major behavioral problems for their entire lives. One is between 8-10 weeks and there is another 2-3 week period between 6-14 months of age.
They cited an example where a perfectly normal and well-adjusted German Shepherd pup suddenly became extremely aggressive toward other dogs. He was fine with people, but his owner was literally afraid that he would kill another dog.
The genesis of this very serious problem was one traumatic incident: the dog and his dog buddy were wrestling around in the front yard, as they had done for months, when they got too close to the invisible fence. The German Shepherd was shocked and immediately went after the other dog, resulting in an all-out dog fight.
From that moment, he became increasingly aggressive toward other dogs and would never play with that familiar dog again. ONE incident of traumatic pain and fear, altered that dog’s life forever.
Let’s turn to humans. How many incidents in our past have shaped our relationship to life? Things that we can barely remember or that we can’t remember? The figurative electric shock of various traumas that have been layered one on top of another since we were born.
Even though life in the United States is relatively safe, compared to many parts of the world, there is a lot of trauma going on. Trauma for many that begins the moment they were born into a family with a history of violence or abuse. Trauma in their neighborhood, where crime and violence were common place. Trauma from being different and/or not fitting in.
It may not have been anything physical like an electric shock. Maybe it was listening to the adults in our lives express fear or suspicion or flat out bigotry and hatred toward someone or some group? Maybe it was something learned in church or from media.
Maybe it was the devastating loss of a loved one or pet or friend? My God, the list is endless, isn’t it?
All of these incidents add up over time and in some of us, morph into destructive behaviors. Just like the dog. We are really no different in our conditioning, particularly when we are young and don’t have the skills to cope or analyze.
So, as we discuss the various tensions within our nation and the world, remember that humans are not machines. We are all shaped by our environment and surroundings.
Those of us who are pet owners, know that puppies need a lot of love, attention and socialization. Training them with abusive or fear based methods can result in aggression and that makes them dangerous.
Humans are delicate. We are easily bruised and scarred. We also need gentle handling, not only as babies and children, but for our entire adult lives. Be aware of that and be aware that many of your fellow travelers carry around not only their trauma, but the trauma of their ancestors, because that stuff is passed down.
It’s so easy to see. Look at the Middle East. Look at the problems in our inner cities. Look at the problems on Native American reservations. Ancestral trauma.
We all carry it around with us like a heavy, ever-present backpack. In order to begin to see others in a loving way, we must heal ourselves. We have to release our past traumas and pain in order to open up to healing the pain of others. Don’t discount another’s trauma. It is real. It animates them; often in ways that are destructive to them and to our society.
Listen to these people’s fears and experiences. Really HEAR them, without your political or religious or socio-economic filters. It’s not just their trauma, it is all of ours and until we acknowledge and embrace that, the killing and conflict will continue.
Empathy. Walk a moon in their moccasins, measure your words and reactions. Be kind. We are all in pain.
One of the things that I preach to others is that we need to practice compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and empathy toward others, even those we don’t like or agree with. It’s easy to tell others that they must do this in order to heal themselves and begin to heal the world. It was time for me to let the rubber meet the road and practice what is so easy to say, but not so easy to do. A ‘healer, heal thyself’ moment I suppose.
In case you didn’t see the last post, Ember was killed in our driveway when a Fedex driver didn’t see her as she and our other dog ran toward his van. The driver had no idea he had hit her. He said that he saw the other dog and was looking for Ember, but it was too late. My husband was livid. He still is. But, that’s his journey.
Fedex told us we could file a ‘claim’ with them. I felt as if that was only more painful and would force us to relive the trauma. I also knew that it was an accident. There was no malice and although my husband claims he was going ‘too fast’, I can’t even confirm that. I just don’t know.
I wanted to forgive and move on. I knew that young man was suffering greatly over this. He had always loved to see our crazy dogs greet him at the back door when he delivered packages. He had dogs of his own.
I told my husband that he could file the claim or do whatever he felt was necessary, but I didn’t want to talk about it, or be involved. I knew what I wanted to do; I wanted to give this young man a hug and tell him it’s okay.
You see, in the past, I would have gone over every scenario that I thought may have prevented this. I would have beat myself up for ordering a package that had to be delivered on that day at that moment. I knew from the tracking info that he was probably delivering something that day, so I should have had them inside, I should have been more attentive, I should have trained her better, blah, blah, blah.
This time, my path and my practice kicked in. First of all, the minute I heard that truck enter our long driveway, I knew what was coming. I knew in my gut, that he was going to hit her. I can’t explain it, I just knew.
I felt grief and shock and pain and devastation, but I didn’t feel anger. I didn’t try to cast blame on anyone, including myself.
Shit happens. I used to hate seeing that on bumper stickers and t shirts. It seemed so harsh and profane. But, now I get it; it is harsh and profane because life can be that way. This time, despite losing something so precious to me, I understood it. Shit just happened and I now I have to walk the walk that I talked.
I knew that I would see that driver again. I wanted to see him again and I knew that he would dread the day that he had to make his way slowly up our driveway, knowing the pain that his action had caused. To us and to him.
He showed up about a week later with a package for me from a friend in Denver. I walked out onto the driveway and gave him a hug. I asked his name and told him that it was okay. That it wasn’t his fault and that I loved her and will miss her fiercely, but I wanted him to know that I forgave him.
He was very emotional and explained again that he just didn’t see her and that it had been a horrible week for him. He felt guilt and remorse and had gone over it a 1000 times in his mind.
And I said, “Hey. Shit happens in life. It’s all in how we react to it and deal with it. I forgive you and I want you to forgive yourself”. I gave him another hug and told him to take care.
In that package was a big, beautiful, sacred crystal that is now buried in the center of my medicine wheel garden, directly over Ember. They both face west toward Ember’s native Colorado and my sacred spaces out west.
Practice empathy. Forgiveness. Grace. They will lift our burdens and those of others. It’s hard when you’re hurting, but it will ease our pain.