Monday, December 28, 2009

So I ran...

{If you have not already, read the post directly following this post first to gain insight into this post.}

The day after Christmas I bundled up in my coat, wool mittens, purple snow hat and running shoes. I needed to get out and move my body. I needed to breathe fresh air. However, I did not know I was inadvertently searching for a place where I could feel. I needed to let myself grieve the loss of my dog in this place...

There is some back story I need to reveal first. After I became pregnant with my first daughter we moved into town along with Mattie. After my daughter was born, all of the sudden Mattie was not the center of attention. She was not happy with us and it broke my heart. Fortunately, my parents-in-law who I have the great pleasure of knowing and loving loved Mattie with all their hearts and were happy to take care of her, which was perfect because we could still see her and take her from time to time. And I knew she was happy and well taken care of. I wrote on my other blog the following a month or so before Mattie died:

"Mattie has been with us over the holiday (Thanksgiving) and it has been so fun to watch Amelia and Mattie (kind of reminds me of when I was a bit younger and more apt to play with my dog:)). They have been going out into the backyard and enjoying the snow and sun. I love all the windows looking out into the backyard, because I can keep an eye on her without going outside myself (Faly has been pretty sick lately and I haven't wanted to take her out)... We miss Mattie so much, and I am glad to see Mattie take a liking to Amelia (even if it is a little too late :)). For those of you who do not know, I got Mattie as a little, tiny puppy when I was still in high school... She is such a wonderful dog! Mattie was not very happy after we had Amelia and moved into town. She needed space and complete attention from her human caretakers. Mom and Dad are her sole owners now. Mattie is happy in Colorado Springs with Grandma and Poppy."

I am so thankful we had Mattie for almost a complete month before she died. If I had not had this time with her losing her would have been far much more difficult for me. It was only about 5 days after being with us and returning back to Colorado when she died. I cried here at home, but had not yet released the emotion I had while being in Colorado for Christmas. I could see her as if she was there, but she wasn't and it was so strange to have a Christmas without her laying her head on my knee at the table or watching attentively as the girls ran around and enjoyed the excitement of the holiday.

...So I ran. I ran up the steep slopes of the mountain loop near the house. The cold air pierced my lungs and burned my eyes and throat. I pushed on as if chasing the apparition of my dog. I could see her darting off of the road into the forest and then returning back to me, smiling. I reached the peak of the road where it then started its steep decline. I stopped short at the look out. The sprawling city and never-ending expanse of land and sky stretched out before me. The landscape was so large it seemed as though it could without hesitation swallow me up. Thoughts of her, my parents, sister and other past loved relatives streamed into my mind. I bent over and cried. I had to divert my eyes from the vastness of the landscape to keep from feeling like she was gone and the universe and world was so enormous how could I ever know where she was or even go wherever she happened to be when the time came.

I don't believe in heaven and hell from the Christian standpoint. I believe those life conditions along with others all exist in every moment of life and which one manifests depends on our fluctuating and non-static life condition: The Ten Worlds

I do however, believe that life is not over once we finish this lifetime. Life goes on forever with no beginning and no ending, our life goes on forever. Depending on our causes in this lifetime and the connections we make we can draw strong relationships between our beings back into different lifetimes. Have you ever met someone who you thought you knew before? Have you ever had a connection with a loved one that seemed so strong that it could not have possibly only developed in this lifetime?

Being a Nichiren Buddhist I believe the past, present and future are all wrapped up into the moment- the here and now. It is life at this moment that is of the greatest importance, not death. I find solace in this. I am not waiting for some eternal place of bliss or damnation, which either exists or does not. The existence of these places are not convincing to me also. I do not want to go to a place that has to be non-changing due to its very nature. A place where certain people are left out because of a lack of certain belief in this world. I could go on, but this really is not meant to be a post on spiritual belief, but rather a post on the complexity and inevitably of loss.

Allowing the emotion of losing my dog and the connections associated with her to flood over me like a raging river was an incredible experience. An experience of honoring her memory and respecting my need for her along with the realization that life continues after losing presences we before could not imagine life without.

Sorry, everyone- I guess when the floodgates open they really open. :) I really needed to write these posts. Thanks for reading.


  1. Let it all out. Its the best thing. The healthiest thing. Mattie was a beautiful girl, and knew how much you loved her. I'm so very, very sorry to hear of Mattie's passing. It sounds like she had a wonderful life, surrounded by people who loved her, and did everything they could to make her a happy girl. Maybe she was holding on until she could spend time with you again, and make the circle complete.

    This poem has always held meaning and hope for me, when I lost a beloved pet:

    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here,
    that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
    There are meadows and hills for all our special friends so they can run and play together.
    There is plenty of food, water, and sunshine and our friends are warm and comfortable.

    All the animals who have been ill and old are restored to health and vigor;
    those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again,
    just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
    The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing;
    they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
    They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance.
    His bright eyes are intent; his eager body begins to quiver. Suddenly, he begins to run from the group,
    flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

    You have been spotted,
    and when you and your special friend finally meet,
    you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again.
    The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head,
    and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life
    but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together...

    I believe you will see Mattie again, and she will be healthy once more, and your love for each other will continue... Many hugs to you, Caitlin-

  2. I'm so glad you're sharing this all. I feel the same as you about life, death, and timelessness. I know every time I think about my Grammy or Baby Cat that in that instant they are with me. It gives me great comfort. Hang in there.

  3. What a great post. I think loss of any kind that hurts make us realize what are thoughts and beliefs are. We seem to get such clarity, and I Thank you For sharing your clarity.

    We are so similar in thought! :)