On Sunday, July 22, my dog Red moved on to the next, mysterious phase of his journey, beyond the realm of human, animal, and suffering. I adopted Red from the Providence Animal Rescue League (PARL) in 2007. [If anyone is so moved, donations can be made to PARL in his memory.] Red and I shared many friends, human, feline, and canine, and some of our years together were full of joyful and beloved community. But some of our years together were equally painful and lonely for me, and Red provided soul-nourishing and life-saving friendship. The love I had for him was unconditional, and my greatest wish has been that he died knowing that deeply.
The word “bereaved” derives most recently from the Old English word “reafian,” which means to rob, plunder, or steal. On Sunday, I held Red’s face in my hands and the heart-stopping liquid flowed through his veins. When the vet said, “He’s gone,” it did feel as if something had been taken, ripped away, actually. The quiet space I shared with the vet, the vet tech, my mother, and my brother contrasted sharply with the violent sense of something torn away. I howled.
In my heart-mind, Red “stays,” but he also romps . . . painlessly through the bardo and onto his next big adventure.