February, 2017

Let Love Break You in Two: A Tribute to My Animals

I hurt him for the first time today. In all his noble life, Homer Hanuman Ram dog had never whined or whimpered, at least to my knowledge, and this made it all- the-more unbearable when his legs got stuck in the seat tracks of the backseat of my Volvo. I was trying to get him out of the car and he got stuck. His nearly14 year-old arthritic hips and legs got stuck, and he cried out.

I sprang to action and hurled myself over the back of the convertible, wrenching my back and pulling a muscle in my groin as I did so, trying to free him as he lay there. When we were both finally free, sweat pouring down my face, Homer hobbled out to the green grass of the front yard and lay down, as I lay on the floor of the garage and assessed my injuries. As I did so, I felt Homer come to me and lick my face, licking away my tears of frustration and pain.

My devoted Homer later gnawed gratefully on a marrow bone on the living room rug, and this seemed to spur the two cats, T Bone and Jenny, into frenzied action. Back and forth they zoomed in the living room, knocking over pictures and vases, thundering around the room as I sat on the couch, attempting to read. The craziness culminated in the two felines hissing and spitting on the back of a wing chair, turning it over, causing them to scatter, hissing and screaming loudly. Homer continued with his bone; I with my book.

A bit later I looked up from my book, noticing things had become ominously quiet. I looked for the three animals, finding them in the tiniest room in the house: my office. The sight burst my heart open with love and gratitude. Jenny, all six pounds of her (soaking wet), was sprawled out on my leather chair, sound asleep. T Bone, a somewhat feral tabby and a 13- pound monster, was sound asleep on a small stool, his paws outstretched toward Jenny. And Homer? He was sound asleep, his back pressed against the couch, the couch where 15-20 patients talked to me weekly. This couch is where Homer worked. He assisted me with these people, and had done so for the last 14 years.

Sunlight managed to stream in the window and hit all three animals at the same time, and my heart began to hurt in my chest as it swelled with love. How could these three animals touch me like this? How could they represent love so completely that I longed for nothing else when I looked at them? How did I know God through these furry beings and have no doubt in Her existence when I looked at them? Why did I break down with joy and compassion when one of them yawned? What was this thing that caused me to cease my barbaric yawp from time to time when I touched my sweet, sweet babies?

I crept softly over to the couch, and sat down. In that moment, I remembered the time I had been shown the secret of the Universe thirty years before, lying on this very couch. It was another time, in another city, on another coast, and the couch was covered in a different fabric. Tears filled my eyes as I remembered the time. I had awakened from a deep slumber to behold the most beautiful sight I had truly ever beheld: the sight of my infant daughter’s face as she napped in her swing next to me as I napped on the couch.

Chrissy’s face was arranged in a smile that almost caused me to stop breathing – it was the smile that created the Universe. It was the smile of one’s Original Face. Somehow, I was given a glimpse of this before the weight of thought and what we call reality consumed me again. Her smile covered her entire face, and a gurgling sound came from somewhere deep within this smile, as her chuckle and grin doubled back upon itself and I saw the Truth of All Things, morphed and imprinted on what I called my daughter, but what God called His Beloved. I could see into eternity, and I will never forget what I saw.

Sometimes we are given this gift, as I was given it again today in looking at Homer, T Bone and Jenny. I was given the promise of the absolute nature of God, the extension of pure kindness and devotion. Perhaps we get these glimpses to help us remember along the way to keep on keeping on. To remind us that there is no problem. No problem, ever. To help us remember Who We Are and Why We Are Here.

When the love becomes too much to bear, Homer licks our face or T Bone knocks over a vase. These stories are given us so that we do not implode or explode or burn too quickly. Love is a fire, and we want to consume this fire with reverence and awareness.

Love is meant to break our hearts. Love is meant to split us in two again and again.

Let love break your heart again and again. Let love break you in two….

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