Zen Spot #68 — Mindfulness, meditation and feeling a loved one’s heartbeat stop February 5, 2018 00:05
Lily was a Standard Poodle. Apricot colored. I didn’t want her.
My wife chose to bring her into our home for many reasons, few of which had to do with me. I had already had a dog. Her name was Scarlet Shoes. A black Lab.
Not that one dog is enough for one lifetime because, well, clearly it’s not. But, at that time in my life, I didn’t need more responsibility. Three kids. A house. A business. A substance abuse problem. It adds up.
Like most people whose partner commits to a dog, I offered the cliche response — "I’m not walking it, feeding or cleaning it. You want it, it’s your responsibility.”
Lily had a kind soul. Still, a queen’s soul. Still, a soul that loved our children, especially our youngest, William, in a way that a grandparent loves a grandchild. William would snuggle like most kids snuggle with a beloved pet but, despite Lily’s love, she wasn’t a snuggler. She was a queen. Somehow knowing that William needed to be close, she was a loving grandparent.
Lily would allow William to dress her up in children’s clothes, much to her chagrin. Choosing the role of grandparent over queen required much patience. The image above perfectly represents her resignation to love. Wearing a hoodie, looking down and waiting until the beloved humiliation faded into playing video games or bike riding, Lily gave of herself endlessly to William.
She was a cool dog.
Lily had an uncanny ability to get into the trash while we were out of the house. Bears in Yellowstone would love her secret. If we forgot to take the trash out before leaving the house, we'd return to a crime scene of aluminum foil, plastic bags, cake frosting and vegetable garbage. What looked like tornado residue was, instead, a slow motion, methodical and discerning gourmet tasting.
The last year
My wife and I had divorced and Lily lived with her for about four years. At one point, my wife moved to a home where dogs were not allowed and she asked if I could care for Lily.
Lily's last year was filled with health problems. Sores developed. She began wasting. Her eyes began to fail. She would nip, even when being given medical attention because, I guess, everything hurt. I should have put her down six months before, demonstrating compassion for her pain, instead of mine.
I told William that he needed to prepare. His mother and I chose a date, in February. William’s anguish would be profound. I needed to be strong.
We met at the veterinarian’s office. I hadn’t been around when Scarlet was put down for reasons I won’t explain here. Walking in, knowing I was going to walk out with a crying child and an empty leash was heart wrenching.
The doctor explained what would happen. I lifted her onto the table. She received the drug to relax her and then, within thirty seconds of the next drug being administered, with my hand lying flat on her chest, her heart slowly stopped beating.
I felt her soul leave.
Despite being the father, I dropped to the floor and started wailing. Inconsolably wailing. In front of my child. A crumpled pile. So much, that William put his hand on my shoulder to comfort me.
I didn’t cry that much when my father died. Theories abound. My father. My marriage. My dog. Who knows.
Yes, my dog. The dog I didn’t want.
An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 Michael has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.
What are The Four Noble Truths?
- The truth of suffering
- The truth of the origin of suffering
- The truth of the cessation of suffering
- The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering
What is The Noble Eightfold Path?
- Right view
- Right intention
- Right action
- Right speech
- Right livelihood
- Right effort
- Right mindfulness
- Right concentration
What is a Dharma Wheel?
All veterinary offices are Zen spots. Souls depart regularly from these train stations, moving toward the next place — with karma on their side.