I had to have my pal Phoenix put down. I’m still in shock. The house feels empty. I’m the only one here. It’s been Phoenix and me for so long.
Anyone can own a dog, but sometimes a bond beyond explanation is born between person and dog. It’s obvious good fortune, a gift, a blessing. God’s knowing.
Of all the impossible and unforeseeable twists and turns that had to occur—me coming upon a desire for a puppy at the time Phoenix arrived in the world, locating her through my neighbor whose cousin bred Labs, and having her brought home when I told my then-husband to get the other pup—sings of synchronicity.
Destiny delivered a special soul in a Black Lab body to partner with me on my journey.
Love was Phoenix’s mission; I was her assignment.
She loved life, chasing balls, hanging out on the deck, walking in the woods, greeting neighbors, and spreading joy.
One neighbor often hollered, “Here comes Phoenix, happiest dog in the world!”
Phoenix was partial to her own kind when it came to dogs. Labs had an automatic in.
She loved most people but picked her favorites: like Carol, who connected with Phoenix on a trip to the beach in NC and her husband Pete, who Phoenix took to like a long-lost father, and Wayne, who Phoenix walked beside—no leash required.
Phoenix chose me as her favorite person. If dogs got tattoos, Phoenix’s would’ve said, “I’m with her.” Her gentle, undivided loyalty poured forth pure and untainted by the world for 11 beautiful years.
I never celebrated her birthday before, but this year felt like a major milestone.
She seemed to know. She made it a good one, with a long walk three doors down to the neighbor’s coveted healthy, lush, green grass. She made herself at home as if the world belonged to her. I sat down and pretended too, practicing Reiki, prayers, and presence on someone else’s lawn.
It didn’t matter. We were grabbing the good, our final togetherness.
Before we had to let go.
Somehow, Phoenix’s body broke down. Maybe for the simple reason life doesn’t last forever and there are many paths to getting out. We all go out. Ugh! The fact I don’t like.
I don’t like saying goodbye; I’ll never see you again. The worst!
However, if I’m going to keep living, I ought to find a better way to go through grief. These are the things we think of on Grief, Day 1… Maybe we can logic our way around. HAHAHA!
My heart hurts. My baby’s gone. I miss her presence, energy, persistence, her black shadow everywhere. I miss her marble-brown eyes looking into my soul. I miss laughing when she ignores me and walks away to sh*t in the neighbor’s yard at 3 am.
Missing my companion makes me miss my dead boyfriend even more. Isn’t that crazy?
Maybe it’s because Phoenix was “just a dog” in the way that Kevin was “just a boyfriend.”
Selected by God—specifically for me—to know, experience, give, receive, sit in, and cherish divine love. Divine. Sacred. Special. Undeniable. Unforgettable. Irreplaceable.
Now, Grief walks in. No handcuffs. No threats. No tricks.
She reaches out her hand in invitation: “Come, walk with me a while again. We’ll journey deep but rise like dolphins out of water. We’ll return with radiance polished like diamonds.”
Grief looks different.
“Yep,” she says. “That happens when you’ve been looking at me for a while.” Then, she asks, “Are you ready?”
It feels like I imagine when I was a soul and I said yes, I’m ready for a body, and when I was I was a baby, but before I’d been birthed or touched the earth, I said, yes, I’m ready to join the world.
We don’t know what we’re ready for! Can we prepare for Grief? No, preparation isn’t necessary, but it helps.
It helps to be grounded.
If you’re not grounded, Grief can f*ck you up as bad as your worst bad, bad girlfriend.
Grief can make you love her and let her move in, not just to your home, but your heart.
Grief can take over your emotions the way a spoiled girl takes over closets.
Ah, but Grief carries crazy-cool wisdom woven in her womb. She’ll crack you into something new. She’ll sprinkle enlightenment around you and teach you how to feel the music in your blood. Grief will caress you and honor your secrets. She’ll comfort you in memory and heighten your senses.
She’ll make you think you’re high or crazy, but you won’t care. Once you have the courage to climb in bed with Grief, you may resist the world the way a teenage girl falling for her first boyfriend resists her parents.
Because that’s where the juice of life lives—where the heart and soul dance with unbridled emotions and the mind is merely a witness, all previous lessons dismissed.
While some people run from Grief, knowing she’s a too-large wrestling partner for their likes, the brave lean in. But, the wise don’t get lost or stuck.
I intend to be wise this time. Grief smiles as she takes me for a little spin.