My beloved dog Lulu died suddenly in August. It felt like my heart was ripped out of my chest. I held her in my arms after hearing there was nothing more that the vet could do. She was being kept alive in their ICU. I held Lulu closely and just moments before the vet was to give her a sedative to help her pass, she awakened, turned her head and stared straight into my eyes. I gasped and looked away. Fear coursed through my body as I saw the great life force in her eyes and realized it was about to leave. I prayed over her as she buried her head in my stomach, the injection was administered and she peacefully left her little, white, furry body. I sobbed as I held her body next to mine.
Love is immeasurable and indefinable and limitless. I felt this endless love from Lulu since the day she came home with us as a puppy. My understanding of love deepened as she snuggled under the covers every night over more than 14 years. Sometimes she’d nudge so close she’d nearly push me off my side of our king bed. I’d awaken in the morning barely hanging on to the edge. My husband had many full belly laughs as he witnessed this scenario. “If only you could love me” he joked, “as much as you love Lulu.” I shrugged my shoulders. My bond with Lulu, I realized, was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Love comes in many forms and if you are lucky you have a few teachers along the way. Lulu was my teacher. When we gazed into each other’s eyes, I felt pure love, warmth and contentment. Few things were as delightful as coming home from a difficult day as a hospice chaplain to be greeted by the light of this precious creature. She made my life complete.
Love transcends time. Its comfort and teachings continue even after our loved one has passed. Pets have a lot to teach us about unconditional love, acceptance, and companionship. They actually teach the same lessons delivered by great mystics like Julian of Norwich, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross: Love is universal and ever-expansive. It is life’s sacred and unifying power- the force that gives meaning to our existence.
Lulu continues to teach me about love now on the other side. A deeper sense of love and its luminous power is embedded in my heart with Lulu gone from this earth. Living out of this deep heart space, seeing others more deeply, and loving more fully is a life long journey.
As our heart expands, the world expands.
Once you experience this deep love, where the Divine resides, our true home, your life is forever changed.
Once you have been loved, you will never be alone.