Still on the plane to India, still not convinced I should be flying away from my dying dog, I prayed again.  This prayer changed my heart.

As I repeated the phrase, “love is letting go,” I felt something release within me.  I relaxed and another realization burst in like an action-movie explosion:

All these years, I thought I was taking care of Stella.  What if Stella was really taking care of me?   

Could it be? 

Yes, she was my protector.  She walked beside me and loved me in all my flawed wonder.  She was my guardian, my angel, a stand in for God’s love.  And this love has taken care of me always. 

Even now.

Even now?  In the horrible timing of Stella’s illness colliding with God’s call to go India – this is love too?

Yes.  This is love.

Sorrow gives meaning to joy.  Death makes life precious.  Everything dances in opposites to add necessary contrast in the mosaic of life.  The paradoxes of love intertwining with loss are holy.

I thought back to my decision to travel to India in 2013.  When I decided to go, I didn’t know why I was called.  But now it was clear.

It was for this.   It was to fly in complete darkness, knowing nothing yet trusting everything.


Despite my dying dog, or because of my dying dog, the trip to India was a holy pilgrimage.   Every experience was deepened because of joy mingled with sorrow.  Then, after two weeks of travel and limited phone and internet connection, I returned home.   I wondered what I would find– would Stella be alive?

When I arrived, Hugh flung open the front door of our house.  “Mommy’s home,” he said.

Bartok bounded to my sideAnd then came Stella.  Moving slowly, but smiling and wagging her tail.

Stella lived for one more week after my return.  We were inseparable.  Then late one night, she died in my arms on our sofa.  Our vet never figured out the cause of death.

Today grief has morphed to gratitude – gratitude for Stella’s life and for our time together.  But also gratitude for that moment on a plane bound for India, where I learned about the holiness of love and loss.   Yes, there are times I miss Stella’s physical presence.   There are times I feel afraid or sad.  But then love barks at me from the other side of the veil.  And I remember I can love everything – for everything is Love.

Reflections:  Has there ever been a time when reality flipped on you?  (Such as when I realized Stella was taking care of me as much as I was taking care of her).  What does this tell you about the mystery of existence? 

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8 Responses to Reality

  1. Bill Kohut says:

    Man,what a nice way to look at death and the loss of a pet. I’ll share this with a granddaughter who had a hard time releasing one of her two dogs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bernie Austin says:

    A beautiful love story. Is it about giving love or receiving love and of course the answer is always, YES, it is both. We are given opportunities to heal as we get out of the way to receive…gently, graciously, lovingly.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love is letting go because we never REALLY have another, 2 or 4 legs. Their gift IS their presence in our life for the time we have together. Love is ALWAYS there. Our job, as I see it is to honor, be grateful and be – truly BE, WITH them while they are here.
    thanks for your post!
    Linda D


  4. We lost our beautiful boy almost 2 years ago, and I still cry when I talk about him . Our beloved dogs are sometimes our greatest and most complicated blessings. They bring us face to face with our vulnerabilities and our flaws, and they show us how little we know about ourselves and pretty much everything else. They lead us more deeply into the ocean of love and mystery than we would ever have gone without them, and they never never let us down. Then they leave us. Our hearts break wide open, and our love goes deeper still. We now have a sweet puppy who fills our lives with joy and chaos, but I still miss Charlie every day. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sending love …..


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