(This was ‘penned’ one month ago as of this post… Aug. 21st, 2014)
Monkey in Meadows
Endings always come at last
Endings always come too fast
They come too fast
But they pass too slow…
I love you, and that’s all I know.
– Art Garfunkel, All I Know
Francesca (aka ‘Monkey’) went home today.
Our journey together began 15 1/2 years ago in Nashville, Tennessee. I had gone into a place called “Love at First Sight” , an adoption center for homeless kitties and doggies just to ‘browse around’. I had three cats and two dogs waiting at home for me, so the visit was intended to be just that – a time to share some loving and hugs with the tenants.
Well, just as I was walking OUT the door to leave a gentleman was walking IN the door carrying the most adorable puppy I think I have ever seen. The first words out of my mouth were, “WHO is that??!!” He went on to explain that this little girl had been ‘deposited’ on the side of the road in a box… and he had thank goodness found her. Good Samaritan that he was, he had taken her in, had her vet-checked and vaccinated and ready to adopt. He wasn’t able to keep her himself as he already had SIX dogs of his own at home. This I know was fate. Had I left this shop even seconds earlier, the destined meeting would not have taken place. And Francesca came home with me.
In fall of 2001 the entire zoo and I made the trek across country to Birch Bay, Washington. It was here that Monkey would learn to love beaches (and go knee-deep in the water thinking she was ‘swimming’) and the fabulous meadows near our home where we went walking almost every day in every season.
She had quite the strong personality – a mix of chow and to the best of my knowledge, border collie. I’m drawn to believe this due to her penchant for wanting to ’round people up’ – earning her the affectionate nickname of “butt biter.” (Folks who visited learned to sit down very quickly when they entered our home.) She also possessed quite the dry sense of humor. It wasn’t only human behinds that were subject to her nipping, she also loved to nibble a cat bottom or two. When I asked her why she did this, her answer was, “Because it’s there.” (She also made it quite recognized that while she endured her feline siblings, she did not really understand what purpose they served.)
Every morning started with a healing ritual with Mom: acupressure, a little massage, and chakra clearing followed by Mom doing the “Doggy Breakfast Dance & Song.” (Someday I will have to put it up on youtube.) The evenings found us dancing to Bobby Darin singing, ‘Beyond the Sea’ (well Bo, my golden retriever, and I danced – Monkey watched from the bed with a large grin.) Quite the musical household.
As she began to slow down over the past few months, her legs became quite unstable and curtailed a lot of our outings, specifically the beach as she could no longer manage the rocky terrain. We did though, even just days before her departure, make one last trip to the meadows, where she sat with the sun warming her back and the breeze blowing lightly through her fur. The look on her face was priceless and though it did take it’s toll on her little body, it was obvious that it was well worth the pain.
We had numerous conversations over the recent past regarding her desire to ‘go home.’ More than willing to walk the road with her to the end, I also wanted her to know that it was important that she tell me when it was becoming ‘too much.’ I adhere to the beautiful words shared with me by my friend and acupressure teacher, “Dance to the end of the song” – and I must say, what a fine, intricate, tender dance it has been.
The words of Henry Scott Holland quite beautifully sum up the feeling that I had today as I held her and kissed her one last time….
And that is…
I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!”
Gone from my sight. That is all.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment when someone at my side says:
“There, she is gone!”
There are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout:
“Here she comes!”
And that is dying.
~Henry Scott Holland~
And so my beloved Francesca, I thank you for the invaluable lessons that you have taught me, most notably over these past few weeks. First. the value of this moment – this PRECIOUS moment is all that matters. Ever. And, also so importantly, this: As I shared with friends the latest on Monkey’s state of health, the outpouring of love and prayers was just inspiring. In the past, while I would have been extremely touched by these offerings, she taught me to REALLY feel them. To take them in and honor them. Which in turn expanded the size of my heart and my ability to receive love. Gifts do not get any sweeter than that.
I will love you forever and ever and ever, dear Monkey. Until we meet again…
PS Enjoy your time with Genesis… he has been waiting for you.