Best Dog Ever

faveWhen I was a kid, someone told me that the rain meant God was crying.  Today, my inner child wants to believe that this is true – that it is raining because even God is sad that my beloved one-year-old puppy died.

It was a freak accident that caused the spinal cord injury – a quick twist of fate during a puppy playdate.  The vet assured us against regrets but we are reeling with hurt.  There is no explanation that will help us make sense of the pain in our hearts.

We held Oakley on a ‘Best Dog Ever’ pedestal.  He was our one-of-a-kind dog, aka mutt, unique and unrepeatable.  A friend described him as a bag of spare parts and we cherished that about Oakley.  Each of us loved him with abandon and he returned the affection without playing favorites.

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There is a secret that dog lovers know – such that it cannot be adequately explained to one who hasn’t experienced the unfettered loyalty and sincerity of a canine.  The secret is that dogs fill a need we didn’t know we had.  They reveal to us – an oft undeserving lot – the experience of unconditional love as only an unencumbered creature can.

I’ve read that dogs never lie about love.  They are honest with their emotions and far less confused than we humans about relationships.  This is why we are devastated when they leave us.  Having shared in this mutual exchange of magical affection, we can never fully reconcile the loss of it.  Dean Koontz said, “If you’ve had a wonderful dog, life without one is a life diminished.”

Oakley’s life was cut short in his people’s eyes.  We had hopes and expectations about a future with him.  In our minds, Oakley’s image was already painted onto the canvas of every child’s soccer game, every family party, and every first day of school photo.  How will we ever un-paint him?

Those who have healed from the loss of a dog will remind me that Oakley lives forever in my heart.  Someday, that reality will comfort me.  Someday, my hands will not ache for the feel of his fur; my ears will not notice the deafening silence created by the absence of paws running to greet me; and my mind will relinquish its relentless chatter about the unfairness of life. But right now, as I tumble through the stages of grief, my immense love for Oakley hurts because it has no tangible recipient.  It has only a memory of what it felt like to have him, and sadness that he is gone.

Rest in peace, my sweet friend. You will be missed.

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Wake Up By Dreaming

dream1Husband indicated that we’d be having guests so I made a salad.  (A salad?)  It was unclear how many we’d be entertaining or when.  For some reason, I wasn’t privy to the details.

In this dream, when I opened the front door to my house and peered out into the dimly lit drive, I saw a line of people extending past the end of my street.  Some I knew well, others I recognized with the vaguest recall – a brief flash of a memory connected to a stranger’s face.  Each person wore a similarly jovial and strangely familiar affect as I welcomed him or her with a handshake.  They all seemed to be in on a secret that I hadn’t yet discovered.

There were thousands of people.  In typical dream fashion, they somehow fit in my house.  And all were eating a plate of salad from the one bowl I’d made, rather like the Bible story of the Fish and The Loaves.

This wacky scene unfolded bit by bit until I realized that I was in the midst of an after-party.  All of these people were actors in a production that I starred in.  It was called ‘Deb’s Life.’  By all accounts it was a smashing success.

My guests waxed on about their favorite parts and shared hearty laughter when recalling the outtakes.  The actors and I conversed with detached amusement as if My Life wasn’t real – at least not in the sense that I thought it was.

Here we were, looking every bit authentic in our human costumes, but devoid of the personalities that were connected to the characters we played.  It was a shocking revelation that Life, and the people in it, was just a drama – a series of events concocted for…what? Entertainment? Learning?

The one common thread was that each of the players in my story loved me.  They had been cast in my life by a legendary director and they cherished the chance to be a part of it.

Even the people with whom I had known only angst appeared now to be such close friends.  “I love you so much that I agreed to the role of aggressor,”  a man said.  “You were brilliant – the way you played the victim, and the way you overcame it!”

I began to see each person , each event, in symbolic terms, without emotion or judgment.  The friend who had betrayed me in Life embraced me now and I returned the gesture.  There was no need for apologies, for there was nothing to forgive.  Life, the show, had been perfectly executed.

The lesson in the dream was clear:  Life is an illusion, one that easily sucks you into the belief in its realness.  But things are never exactly as they seem.  Trials are not punishments, they are gifts.  And nothing , no one, is insignificant in this adventure.  The discoveries and contributions of every single life, no matter how large or small, difficult or easy, are added to the whole perfect picture.  Each soul has its place and purpose.  Each gives and receives to the others to create one big, beautiful, perpetual story.

“And so it comes to pass that each precious heart beats in all subsequent generations forevermore.”  – Mike Dooley

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