"It's not good news," said Dr. Doug. "The biopsy shows that it's a very pernicious cancer. The chances of the tumor growing back are very high. It's a matter of time." The veterinarian rubbed his forehead, and I could see the emotion in his eyes. The knot in my stomach tightened, and I fought back tears as I stroked the soft black head of my best friend, companion and teacher of 15 years. Tashi was a golden retriever/chow mix who had been abandoned at 3 months of age when her owner was thrown in jail. I broke into the apartment where she had been left alone for more than a week, and rescued her. We had been through a lot together, and she was my soul dog. I pushed back the deep sense of devastation and loss that was beginning to bubble inside of me. "How long do you think we have?" I asked. "Well, as I said, this is a pernicious form, and it may not be long. We can make her comfortable. And because the tumour was on her tongue, it would be possible to remove it, if it grows back. But only because she doesn't have to undergo the deep anesthesia that is used for other internal surgeries." He gave me instuctions for her care, and told me to call him, when it was time. He would come to the house to administer assistance.
Tashi recovered from the first surgery in good time, and I felt hopeful seeing her energy increase. We became even more inseparable, as I knew our time together was limited. We continued our twice daily walks in the woods, and I gave Tashi daily reiki and massage treatments. A couple of months later, I noticed a bump on her tongue, once again growing. I made the decision to have it removed. But, this would be the last time.
Life moved on, autumn passed and the snow came. A new lump grew on Tashi's tongue. Then one night, she began licking her paws, almost incessantly. I noticed spots of blood on the floor, and looked in her mouth. The tumour had grown, and she had punctured it. It was leaking blood. I gave her some of the leftover Chinese herbs that Dr. Doug gave me to staunch any post-surgical bleeding, and prayed it would stop - I worried that she might bleed out, but the herbs worked. I knew it was time. Tashi was ready. She was tired. She hurt. And I couldn't keep her like this. In the morning, I made the call. Dr. Doug said he would arrive at 4:00.
Throughout the day, Tashi stayed near the door leading downstairs to the entry hall, almost as if she were waiting. She wasn't interested in taking a walk, and barely relieved herself. We walked a little distance up the back driveway, but she wasn't really interested in being out. My heart was breaking - she loved to play in the snow, rolling around, snowplowing and having a blast. Now, she just wanted to make her way back inside. I carried her up the steps. She still wanted to be by the door. I prepared her bed, lit candles, and put Krishna Das on the stereo. Around 4:00, I heard Dr. Doug's car in the driveway, and went to the door. As soon as the vet entered the foyer, Tashi got up and went to the living room, where she laid down on her bed, and heaved a huge sigh. She was ready.
I lay down on the floor with her, holding her paws in my hands, and gazing into her eyes. Dr. Doug slowly administed the injection. In a very short time, Tashi's eyes glazed over, and my heart split open. "Oh. That's it," I thought. Suddenly, she blinked, and her eyes became crystal clear. Those brown eyes latched onto mine and I felt her soul literally leap out of her body, and pass through mine! I felt her sense of freedom - the pain was gone, there was lightness, there was joy! I could feel her energy spin around the house, and back to the living room, where there was suddenly confusion as she realized she was not in her body. And then that sense of confusion faded. But she stayed with me.
I kept her body overnight, so that the cat could understand that Tashi was gone. I wrapped her body in a light blue flannel blanket, and put of tilak of kumkum on her forehead. I sprinkled her with rosewater, and placed a glarland of flowers around her neck. The next morning, a Sunday, I took her body to the vet's office, so that it could be cremated.
For the next few weeks, I could feel Tashi still with me. Twice a day, I went to the parks where we walked. I could feel her in the back of the car. I could feel her with me most of the time. After a couple of weeks, I stopped going for the afternoon walks. Then the morning walks became sporadic. Eventually, I stopped going to the parks. And I noticed Tashi's presence less and less. Although for a very long time, every once in a while when I would drive past a favorite place, I would all of a sudden feel her in the back seat of the car. So I'd stop, and we'd walk. Finally, I stopped feeling her, and I knew that she moved on. Six months after her passing, I went to India. I took Tashi's ashes with me. On an auspicious day, I took a boat out into the sacred Ganges river in the holy city of Varanasi, and released her ashes.
It's been eleven years since Tashi left. But her amazing gift to me glows brightly. In that moment that her soul released her body, she showed me the transition between life and death...that it is just that, transition. I lost all fear of my own death and dying. It is a beautiful gift that I have with me here in my heart, always. I still remember her often. She was a special dog with great consciousness, and we had a wonderful, deep connection. She taught me how to face my own mortality with fearlessness, how to be patient, how to accept others unconditionally, how to love.
Copyright 2011 YaDevi