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? 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 side. And then came Stella. Moving slowly, but smiling and wagging her tail.
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?