Earlier this month I flew into San Francisco for a whirlwind vacation. In the span of two weeks, I studied with my Yoga teacher Scott Blossom, visited a dear friend in her new home of Santa Cruz, returned to my childhood home for the first time in three years, went to Disneyland with my whole family, and then returned to the Bay Area to see my niece graduate from 8th grade. Hands down, it was one of the greatest trips I have had back to Cali since I moved to New Orleans over 12 years ago.
One of the best parts of going home (in addition to spending time with friends and family) is seeing and snuggling my family dog. From the moment Rudy came into my life, I was mush. His avid love of playing ball and his insistence on snuggling used to consume my free time. My appreciation and longing for him set me on the path of crazy dog lady. He opened my heart and showed me the importance of expressing affection. Really, because of him, in the last 11 years I have loved, smothered, cared for, adopted and/or fostered over 20 dogs. Missing Rudy inspired me to go on petfinder and adopt my Pedro, which led my husband (then boyfriend) to adopt my Josie, which led to Luna, then Milne, Maggie and a slew of fosters. As I like to say, Rudy started it all.
Obviously, I was excited to see this little guy once again. As we opened the door to my family home, I immediately looked for Rudy to come and bark hello. Alas, there was silence. As my parents greeted us and exchanged hugs, I continued to listen for him, but still, there was silence. It wasn't until we entered the kitchen that I saw him lying in his bed, exhausted, savoring his rest. The once baller who never use to tire was too tired to lift his head.
While it was wonderful to be with him, hold him, and love on him once again, there loomed the unspoken truth, it was time for me to say good-bye.
I have been struggling to find a sanskrit word that embodies what I want to say about how we say good-bye to those we love. A few good ones came to me:
Pranidhanat - Surrender
Vimoka - Letting go
Moksha - Liberation (from the cycle of life and death)
And while these words express wonderful principles, neither their ideas of freedom nor of release, convey the essence of the peaceful and appreciative good-bye I seek.
While road tripping, my husband and I listened to the score of Hamilton countless times. I have been especially impressed with Christopher Jackson's portrayal of George Washington, in fact, as my heart lay heavy in my chest, I could hear his peaceful and loving voice confidently singing to me
"We’re gonna teach ‘em how to
Teach ‘em how to
To say goodbye!
One last time!"
It was in these words through Mr Jackson's voice that I found peace. It is how I realized that this was my last visit with Rudy and it was time for us to say good-bye, or punar milāna.
There are many parting phrases in sanskrit that imply slightly different intentions and blessings, punar milāna convey
s the idea that parting is only temporary.
Punar - again and again, repeat, once more
Milāna - coming together, contact, union
When one says punar milāna as a good-bye, what they are really saying is, until we meet again.
What becomes of us when these physical bodies that we live in meet their end is up for debate. Whether or not I will "see" Rudy again remains unclear to me, but what I do know is that he set the foundation for all the canine love that has been and is in my life. I know that the spark of love he ignited will continue to burn, and though earlier this month I had to say goodbye one last time to the Rudy that I have known, the love he awoke within me and the delight of togetherness that he fostered, shall be repeated again and again.
My dear Rudy, punar milāna.
Me with my Rudamuffin.