“A honey-colored terrier, lovingly demonstrates through his passage of living and dying that in truth there is no such thing as saving versus losing, life versus death, or accomplishment versus failure.
Moment to moment, one by one, love given and received is all that matters.”
The man said to me, "So, if something happens to you, who would take over caring for these animals?" "As of this moment? No one," I replied. We were both silent for a moment. I had been worried about just such a situation for a long time. When he spoke again, his voice lacked concern: "Then that would mean that in the end, you would have accomplished nothing." In the midst of a routine day I gathered Oliver into my arms, looked into his eyes, and met the Sacred One.
Holding his soft dog-body close to mine, I spoke to Oliver of love given and returned, of life and death. There existed, I told him, the possibility that the cancer now growing within him would eventually cause us to be separated from each other. He would change worlds; I would remain behind. Being blind, he turned his head downward as my words and tears cascaded over him. Then, as the word "separated" left my mouth, his face rose, eyes dancing, alive, seeing within and through me. And there, in that tender and radiant moment, the pure essence of Holiness itself, embraced me. Nothing more was said. A knowing flowed between us that everything was perfect, even the cancer. But it had not always been so. Once given the diagnosis three months before, I had made the cancer an enemy, mine as well as Oliver's. It was, after all, the monster that would tear my dear friend away from me. But in a reflective, prayerful moment I realized that by declaring war on the cancer, I was making all his cells - the whole basic structure of his body - our enemy as well. From that moment on, rather than cursing his cells, I began loving and blessing them, even the cancerous ones. Then, perhaps, he might be cured.
But what if he died anyway? Would I have accomplished anything at all, or wasted energy, time, and emotion? Was I entrapping myself in false hope, blind faith, and utter stupidity? Was I setting myself up for a hard and terrible disappointment?
Oliver's tumor, located within his bladder, would not be helped by surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. Given that news, I began my own integrative therapy for him with a time of quiet introspection and prayer. My intuition, always my best guide, spoke clearly, directing me to use sound and music therapy, tools of color and light, supportive nutrition, and widespread prayer support. I was also to understand and allow that it might just be his time to go.
As Oliver and I proceeded with his therapy, I began to realize that everything I was doing was appropriate for possibly curing the physical condition. And, equally appropriate for helping his spirit to go Home, if that was what what was called for. We were not attempting cure-or-nothing, which would imply success or failure. Nor was such a healing process focused on my little dog alone. Rather, Oliver and I together were moving in tandem through a mutual and inter-supportive healing on infinite levels. We walked through our healing step by step. Nothing long range. No goals, no purpose. Nothing to be accomplished, only our full mental, verbal, active participation in each...perfect...moment.
Oliver and I were not alone. The Sacred One: un-nameable, boundless, pure, led us with love, was our shepherd. I felt that Love; Oliver shone with it.
When finally faced with the certainty of Oliver's impending death, I struggled with my emotional attachment and inevitable sense of failure. Was the pain I saw cross his face only momentary? Or was it his voice asking for compassionate release? Alone, I could not decide. Again I turned within, asked for help, and guidance came: Oliver was ready to leave.
His life on Earth ended well. The day before he left, he laid his head on my foot as I wrote. With his mind he said, "Don't begin missing me yet! Share this moment with me, knowing everything is as it is meant to be: complete, whole, wonder-full. And if you let me, I will guide you for all the moments to come."
My friend and teacher, joining me this lifetime as a honey-colored terrier, lovingly demonstrated through his passage of living and dying that in truth there is no such thing as saving versus losing, life versus death, or accomplishment versus failure. Moment to moment, one by one, love given and received is all that matters. Who will tend to the animals when I'm gone? Oliver knew and in his eyes I found the answer....