In meditation, I look for the energy of Fred’s spirit, but it isn’t there, at least not in the way that I expect it to be. I expect to feel him still beside me, heeling – or healing – at my ankle like he did in his physical form.
That’s what we do when we grieve. We try to hold onto something that gives us hope. The Rainbow Bridge poem is a perfect example. Written by an unknown author, it talks about a meadow where pets run free, waiting for their owners to join them before crossing over the Rainbow Bridge … to where? Heaven?
I don’t claim to be a theologian or even a very good Christian but isn’t the promise of going to heaven at the center of Christian belief? Don’t we strive to follow God’s commandments and Jesus’ teachings so that we, too, can pass through the pearly gates? I believe in God’s grace and forgiveness. But, I’m not sure that it is only about an afterlife in heaven. I believe that creation is bigger than just our world, that there is more than one right way to believe, that oneness transcends a single lifetime.
Last night my teacher, Michael Baugh, quoted Gangaji asking “When a body dies, is awareness any smaller?” Contemplating this, feeling into this, I concluded that awareness doesn’t change. It is still complete.
A day after Fred passed, Ethel and I were sitting on the couch watching our favorite show. On the bookshelf next to me, I had created an altar for Fred with his photo, paw print and fur clipping. There was a candle on the shelf that had been given to me for Christmas. I’d moved it over to be part of the memorial. As I stroked Ethel’s ears, her head in my lap, I started smelling that candle for the first time. It was a clean, fresh scent, like warm clothes straight from the dryer. At first, I didn’t know what the smell was. I smelled my sleeve. I buried my nose in Ethel’s neck. The odor was coming at us in powerful waves. Then, I looked at the photo of Fred. His eyes imploring me to understand. “Don’t worry, Mom. I’m still here.”
One night a man was crying
Allah Allah His lips grew sweet with the praising
Until a cynic, said so!
I have heard you calling out
but have you ever gotten any response?
The man had no answer for that
He quit praying
and fell into a confused sleep
He dreamed he saw Hitter
The guide of souls
in a thick green foliage
“Why did you stop praising”
“Because I’ve never heard anything back”
This longing you express
is the return message
The grief you cry out from
draws you toward union
your pure sadness that wants help
is the secret cup
Listen to the moan of a dog for it’s master
that whining is the connection
There are love dogs
no one knows the names of
Give you life
to be one of them.