Some may read this post and think it is overwrought. But for those of you whose answer to getting through the hard times and honoring the good is, ‘Come on my dog, let’s go for a walk,” you will understand.
But for those of you who have lived with a creature whose every movement expressed life’s possibility and joy at the wonder of each moment, and it was that beings’ delight in existence that kept joy in the forefront of your life and the reality of the worlds’ sorrow as bay, you are the ones who will know.
Must I trade you for beauty?
Apparently, the rose was too perfect
It cried for blood, petty gods
She doesn’t even carry her own
Scent, she’s raped
Who I am to complain
I who cherished you
when my own womb I
slashed and burned
Can I not have all
The splendor, the love
Is this god making a believer
On Monday November 12th Elvis died in my arms of poisoning, it was most likely an intentional malicious act. It is a common practice here.
He was my joy. Felipe and I are heartbroken. Elvis’s mother Lilly was also poisoned, but made it through a horrible night, fighting off heart failure and brutal home remedies of salt douses to induced vomiting and doses of ground charcoal and oil, to cut the poison, they say. Frantically, we tried anything we could, not knowing if we were helping or harming.
After we buried Elvis, Felipe and I kept vigil through the long night with Lilly, hoping our wakefulness would comfort her. As Felipe took his turn massaging her to ease the pain of the muscle spasms I did as I always do when grieving. I got out the largest novel I have on my shelf to bury myself in until I can rise from the ashes. It was Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts, a gift from my treasured friend Cat Stephens who always miraculously manages to come to my rescue in my bleakest hours. This is the first paragraph.
It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant while I was chained to a wall being tortured. I realized, somehow, through that screaming in my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men that were torturing me, or forgive them. It doesn’t sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it’s all you’ve got, that freedom is a universe of possibility. And the choice you make, between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life.
The next day Felipe and I cared for Lilly and mourned together. Through my fury and despair he reminded me that I believe in fate, that everything happens for a reason and I trust in the lessons of my life. To which I responded. “I could care less, I just want my #@$ dog back.”
But even in that state of crushing sorrow and rage it is difficult to deny the synchronicity of a random book, pulled from the shelf in a moment of anguish, and the voice of another soul who has traversed a more painful path than yours and emerged with a message of guidance and hope.
I realized several years ago that my love for Elvis was a dangerous thing, hazardously deep and important to me. I considered if I should continue to love him with abandon in light of how precarious is the life of a dog in La Tigra. On that day I made the choice to give him whole heart knowing the agony losing him would bring. I have no regrets.
Goodbye my dog, you are the best dog ever; I will love you, always.
Thank you to Cat, my personal bodhisattva; my partner in all things, Felipe, and Gerry David Roberts for helping me through this desolate part of my journey.
In closing, a benediction, the words of Mr. Roberts, which ease my soul, and are meant to be shared.
There is a truth that’s deeper than experience. It is beyond what we see or even what we feel. It’s an order of truth that separates the profound from the merely clever, and reality from the perception. We are helpless usually in the face of it; and the cost of knowing it like the cost of love, is sometimes greater than any heart would pay. It doesn’t always help us to love the world, but it does prevent us from hating the world. And the only way to know that truth is to share it, from heart to heart [ ] just as I am telling it to you now.
Lilly is improving, and will soon be attending her iguanas.
© 2013 Abby Smith, Writer