To Love

Times of apparent loss and broken-ness, which perhaps everyone reading this has lived, and maybe more than once, invite – in parallel – the seeing that Love never dies. Love is, always. Beloved Goldie, our adored spaniel, died towards the end of January. Utterly unexpectedly in the night.  Goldie was so vital, loving, sensitive, and full of enjoyment of life. The days right until she died, she was happy and healthy as always, regularly doing her favourite thing – sniffing in the woods and fields and relaxing with us at home. She was spared old age, and the vet assured us afterwards that she did not suffer, but, now the terrible shock has passed, we are left with a child-sized hole in our lives. We cherished her every day. She cherished us. We so loved the enjoyment and love our friends in this community, as well as family, neighbours, and friends showed towards her.

I had waited for a dog all my adult years because I was travelling for work too often to provide the right dog home. Life changed forever when we collected her as a pup. I was utterly devoted to her. I never went anywhere, except into a food shop or a very few other situations, without her. And I gave up high heels and light-colored clothing, pretty much!

Goldie was my girl. She was my friend. She was my faithful, loving companion over hills and fields, through bogs, over mountains. (true for Tim too, of course). She loved nothing better than a dip in a lake or river. She woke me every day with loving, soft spaniel eyes. Let’s go, it’s another day! She loved body-to-body contact. She pushed her warm body into mine whenever she could.

Having a dog is such an intimate relationship, right up there with that we can have, with some differences, with a long-term beloved partner. It is all day, every day. Full-on aliveness. Goldie had so many sweet little ways. She loved sharing a banana with me at my desk. She loved hiding and finding the chew in my office. She loved lying with our two cats by the wood burner. She had an amazing sense of clock time, would invariably be waiting for dinner in the kitchen on the dot of 6 30pm. She loved food. Goldie was a golden light in the woods in winter. She was utterly relational, responsive, naturally kind and gentle, fierce – very rarely – when she had to be. She was so tuned in to humans and animals who loved her and simply skirted around those who clearly didn’t. She would cock her head when asking me a question, and was so responsive to every word I said, every gesture to her. She loved to lie with me, making full-on, sustained soft eye contact. She had clear boundaries, with us, with other dogs, with our cats. She loved morning lie-ins, tummy rubs, long cuddles and full-on play. She was the consummate joyful lover. She embodied eros, body bliss, joy for no reason.

Goldie loved being outside in the garden, sniffing the air, visiting me to look over the edge of the hot tub. She loved to bask in the sunshine, to sit with me and the cats for tea on the deck. Her tail was pretty much constantly wagging as she padded around our home and garden. I won’t ever forget her excited, joyful bark when she saw us getting walking boots, collar and lead – it made it so easy to go out in wind, rain, all weathers. She would run like a rocket if she saw a pheasant. I won’t forget our lovely daily hour-long walks and our regular, long half day and full day adventures in the beautiful, hidden places of this area.

Goldie loved ‘den time’ with her pack by the fire or cuddling on the sofa in the evenings and, if the novel I was reading took too much attention, her great big, lovely golden paw would clearly remind me she wanted attention too. Nor will I forget Goldie’s sweet, well-mannered waiting for permission, even after ten years, before going upstairs to (our) bed each night.

Goldie loved it when groups arrived at our home for supper, and some for B & B, or to camp in the garden. So many participants adored her. Goldie was a bundle of fun. Yet from her first days in our home, she, a frisky puppy, seemed to just know that she would never interrupt a client session or a circle, because something mysteriously profound was happening (though she loved to join in when it was appropriate). She ‘got’ and loved stillness and silence like a gold star meditation student.

We have received so much love, care, and understanding through the waves of our grieving. Thank you all of you who have heard, whether through us or the ‘grapevine’. The kindness and compassion in your email, what’s app and text messages, your cards, your beautiful homemade tributes, your flowers, the songs you have sent, your lovely memories of her, and the long hugs, have sustained us and helped so much.

I am still digesting the terrible truth that I will never touch Goldie, hold her, gaze into her eyes, play with her, walk and run with her again.

Grief about loss is perhaps a measure of how much we have loved. It is such a privilege to have known Goldie, my dear, dear friend. This is up there as one of the very painful things in my life and what makes it ok is that it is simply the price I pay for having loved you and shared the moments of life with you. You are one of the things I am most grateful for in my life, so I pay that price willingly.

Goodbye, my lovely girl. Goodbye, my friend.
Thank you for the days.
You were light and joy, always.

And, of course, that is the truth we are born to re-member over and over again, that life is light and joythrough our embodied human-ness, not by denying it. A man grieving his daughter said to his Master, ‘I am not fit to be your student, because I feel this intense grief, but you don’t grieve’. The Master replied, ‘But she wasn’t my own daughter’. I am glad that Tim and I know (not in the head) how to co-operate with natural healing and letting go. Simple, not always easy.

Yes, life is light and joy, even in the tears and heartache. That is the truth we discover with those we love, and also, after the goodbye, without them. These times of apparent broken-ness, which perhaps everyone reading this has lived, and maybe more than once, invite – in parallel – the seeing that Love never dies. Love is, always.

Life in a body is a blessed gift.  Love is form and formless. Love is sharing life with beloved Goldie, but it is also without subject, object, location, or form. Unconditional radiance is, infinitely. Human, shared love, for an animal, a relative or spouse, is the gateway, whether in the sweet sharing or the harrowing loss, into glorious wonder. Goldie’s gift.

Where is this gift of Love in your life, now? Never miss it. Here it is. How might you live it even more awake. Totally?

Love is all there is. Love is what ‘we’ are. This is the direct experience of awakeness. Embodied, human love is a risk. It involves loss at times, necessarily. The human heart must learn to break and heal, so that, in that breaking, which may repeat for a while, in that which so many bodily cells might seem to say no to, there is the finding of the gold of the YES, the acceptance and surrender which is a gateway to healing, spaciousness and peace.

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