I was driving to a friend’s house in western Maine one day
in November. The autumn had shifted from a saturated blaze of colors to a
muted, burnt-rust shade that permeated everything. I was on a country road with
trees that formed a canopy overhead. It was like driving under the arch of
clasped hands at a wedding procession of forest beings. I saw some wild turkeys
in far off fields. I saw flocks of geese in fields too, feasting on something
unseen. The day was heavy with the scent of fallen leaves and the sky seem to
be pasted with varying shades of gray, oil-paint-thick clouds.
As I approached the village where we had once lived, I began
to think of Bogey, the dog who had lived there with us. He was hit by a car
just before we moved to Portland. I began to think of him – the essence of his character and personality which was so
peculiar and unique. I visualized the muscle memory of the sweet, light feeling
of his little body sitting on my lap. His doggy odor. The way he shook his
thick mane like a lion. The way he stood guard at the window and barked his
five-bark alarm: Woo! Woo! Woo! Woo! Woo!
When I tried to catalogue what it was that I loved about
him, I found that I couldn’t name it exactly, but I began to summon him in my
heart from across the unnamed worlds of the universe. An uncanny mood emanated
from the woods, and I noticed that the trees were the same color as Bogey. It
was as if a weather system of Bogey’s spirit flooded into the trees and leaves
and sky. I felt my throat constrict before the tears came. I remembered that I
was on the way to someone’s house and I didn’t want to arrive there with red
eyes, so my first instinct was to detach from the tears – to push them away.
But my body persisted and the pressure in my chest and throat pushed the
emotion up and I let myself cry.
I wept for the little dumb-dumb head that he
was – to venture into the front yard and then into that busy road. I had clipped him to his outdoor cable so that he could relieve himself in private. He was such a weird little dog that way. The clasp on the tie-out failed and opened. He was not used to being loose and he wandered off to have an adventure, and then didn’t
know what hit him. It must have been ten minutes after I hooked him up outside. How many people feeling grief have said these words: It happened so fast.
That entire day, we searched and waited for him, not knowing
that he was already dead. We called the animal control office to see if he
might have been picked up, but they did not have him.
I fretted all afternoon, looking out the window for him
every five minutes. Finally, I decided to consult a set of “Ask Your Guides”
oracle cards, made by psychic, Sonia Choquette. I pulled a card and turned it
over. The word “Suffering” was written on it, as well as “Sudden Loss”. I knew
in that instant that he was gone.
Right after I drew the card I went downstairs to tell Peter
about it. The phone rang at the same moment. It was the animal control officer.
A veterinarian’s office had called them to report that a dog had been brought
in that morning, who had been hit by a car. The dog was dead so the vet staff had placed
him in a black plastic bag and stored him in their freezer.
We called the vet and even though it was almost their
closing time, they said we could come to see if it was Bogey. I asked what
color the dog was, and they said he was brown. When we arrived, they placed the
black plastic bag on a table and showed us the little frozen body. It was him.
He did look brown somehow – so different in death, even though in life his coat
was a gorgeous shade of orangutan. My first reaction was to throw myself on his
body and sob hysterically, but we were taking the time of the employees who
stayed late for our sake. Composing ourselves, we asked if we could get him the
following day since there was no where to put him at our house until we could
dig a grave for him. They agreed.
As I drove through the autumn woods enroute to my friend's house, I realized how
many times in my life I had suppressed my tears. Sometimes circumstances deemed it
to be inappropriate to cry. Other times I thought I was going to
burden another person by showing my pain. Societal norms force people
to sequester their sorrow into places which can become cemented over and
How did our world become like this? Our very cells can become
sad and we may carry blocked places in the depths of our psyches that seem to cry, “let
I visualized kissing Bogey on his forehead as I drove and I
thought of him buried on the little hill behind our former house. I didn’t
think I could walk up there to honor his grave since I didn’t know the people
who now lived there. But I felt that he came out of his resting place when
beckoned by my love. I felt the bond of our friendship present in the woods. I
told Peter about my experience when I came home and then Peter dreamed about
Bogey that night.
I honor the mystery in the power of thought and the power of
love. I honor how we can ask something of the universe, and how it sometimes
answers with such unequivocol response.