I can see it up close right now- how my overwhelming grief over the loss of my dear dog companion, Coco, brings me to despair with regret. Last night, I was awake again in the middle of the night, my hot flashes are always worse when I am exhausted and emotional and I lay in the darkness in the deafening silence of Coco’s absence. She had become a louder sleeper over the last many months of her long life. I had even learned how to breathe through her gas emissions. But many times, I would toss and turn fitfully, imagining, how quiet it would be when she was gone.
And now it is quiet and I would give anything to go back to rattling breathing and grunting as she changed positions in the night.
This is just one example of many when the ache for my old friend Coco leads me to regret, but there are many… I am alert now to all the many ways I wasn’t paying attention to her because all my attention was focused elsewhere in my work or some petty details of daily living. She was always there, waiting patiently, and instead of being flooded with gratitude for her ever-present loving nature, I am dragging myself through the mud for all the ways I wish I had been more present to my amazing soul guardian who never wavered.
People tell me it’s all part of the grief process- that regret is inevitable, but that over time it is replaced with the tenderness of how we did enjoy our days together, how much we loved and cared for one another. I know this is there, too. Still, I wish that I had the insights that death provides just one day earlier, so I could have looked on her with the admiration and gratitude I feel for her today. On many of the walks leading up to her last day, I would look at her walking beside or ahead of me and remind myself to really see her; to appreciate this small ritual as if it were our last time.
Turning regret into gratitude is the key to healing, I think
But then, on what turned out to be the last time, I was distracted and in a hurry. My heart breaks that I wasn’t watching and saying what I wanted to say to her for all the walks she has accompanied me on. I have been learning about Shamanic voyaging into the upper and lower worlds – meeting animal and human guides and learning to build relationships. But here in the middle world, all this time, I was blessed with a true guide and guardian- and I never saw it, until now that she has joined the others in the upper realms.
Turning regret into gratitude is the key to healing, I think, and it is like forgiveness- a gift that happens by grace and opening…
Already, as days pass into night and I awaken in a room without her near me, something softens and her presence is inside of me. I hold her old coat to my face, sometimes it makes me cry, to have the smell of her again. But I know she will never fully leave me now.