With any luck, we outlive our pets. But Max was not a pet. As his end with me drew near he told me that he never belonged to me and I never belonged to him. It made perfect sense. He was a dog but he was not a dog. A little man of his own.
I’ve had dogs before and they were obedient, or I thought they should be. Not Max. And somehow, I admired him for that. I would call him in and he’d always wait a moment, take a look around, and then, perhaps, come. I came to understand that he was securing the premises…doing his job. We got along just fine, understood one another more than most. Some ‘people’ are like that, they just get you. This is why losing him seems impossible.
After he passed, I kept hearing him, “I’m right here,” and I would feel him at my knee. But it doesn’t seem to be enough. I want to bury my face in his fur and watch his little ears bob up and down as he trots ahead of me down the street. Being a ‘communicator’ is like walking a line between grace and insanity. I help a lot of people with animals and people that pass. I always hear, “I am right here.” But now, for me, I wanted more.
After a week and finding it hard to be in this house without this dog, I allowed myself to dive in. I asked, “Are you okay, Max? Am I helping you?” I am sharing what I heard in hopes to help someone else but mostly, in hopes to allow it all to sink in.
Max: “I am helping you.”
Me: “How are you helping me?”
Max: “You can’t let me go and I am helping you. No, you can’t let me go.”
Me: “What do you mean?”
Max: “You want me back. You want me, ‘Here Max, here Max,’ and I can’t come, ‘here Max, here Max.’
You see, I am not ‘here’ with you. I am ‘here’ with everything. I no longer can come when you call me. I no longer will, ‘sit, sit, sit.’ I am ‘here’ where I can run forever. I can do anything I please. I can live forever in this one place but I cannot have you ‘here’ and you cannot have me ‘there’.
We are separate.
I no longer have all the fur you desperately want to have all about you. You see me like I used to be but I am now a whisper. I am a breath. I am with you always and forever as this little tiny voice whispering ‘I love you.’
I am a breath breathing in, breathing out.
As you breathe in and out you keep me alive with every breath you take only because I am inside of you.
When your heart beats my heart beats and when you rest I rest.
I am all the love you’ve ever held within your heart for me.
I am everything you’ve ever asked of me.
I am you and you are me.
I can never leave you, nor do I wish to.
You are my every breath – you are my last breath.
I live in you.
So don’t be sad.
I have no fur for you to bury your face in.
I am only breath, your breath.
So breathe deeply.
Give everything you have to those who need it most, just like you did for me.
You were never mine to begin with, and I was never yours.
We belong to the wind, we belong to the sky. You and I are eternal. We just don’t see it until we die.
I love you more than anyone has ever loved anyone, you love me the same.
We are eternal.
Because that love has a life of its own we breathed life into that love and made it real – it’s eternal.
Do you understand?”
Me: ” I do. I’ve always known ‘love never dies.’
Max: “And now you see it. You can live with this. You can call me and I’ll be right by your side, right here, looking up at you and you can look down at me and smile. Just you and me. I’ll be with you forever. And once in a while you’ll see me out of the corner of your eye and you’ll know I came back for a moment, just a flash, to let you know that I am really here, waiting for you to join me where the sun always shines and you can stay outside forever.
You were the best, best, best, best friend any dog could ask for. I loved the treats, you kept them coming. I love how happy you always were to see me. And I especially loved our long, long walks. Thank you for taking me on so many.
I am very happy I got to say goodbye the way I did. You didn’t have to hurry me off and I got to rest in your arms with my head on your lap. I love that.
I am here, still, right where you left me.
I love you, Max”
So that’s the way it is. I get to be with my dog, through tears, I get to “see him” in every breath and with every heart beat. If you love hard enough, love never dies.