Sunday, October 22, 2017

10/23/17—Seeing Passion Again

I had a very emotional day or two come to me this week. It came out of the blue. I thought I'd tell you about it.

The day after I moved into my house back in 1999, a little puppygirl moved in. I named her Passion. At the time, I'd carried around a key fob with "passion" on it for years to remind me to always follow my passion. And one of my passions was dogs. 

Regular readers know me as a big lover of the canine set. I currently have three dogs. But for five years, it was just me and Passion...Pashie. Pashie grew to be 100lbs of alpha female aggression and stubbornness. She wasn't human aggressive at all. But she did not like female dogs. Nor did she like male dogs who questioned her authority. And in the 10 years I knew her, despite trying all sorts of alpha rolling and other things you read about online, she never quite conceded to me either. Passion and I both share the strong, stubborn woman gene. We were, at once, each other's most loyal compatriot and biggest pain in the ass.

It quickly became clear to me that Passion wasn't like other dogs. Most dogs have dog souls. Passion, I felt, had a human soul. I don't say that lightly. I wouldn't say it about any other dog I've had, save maybe one when I was growing up. I'm quite convinced Passion was someone from my soul group who loved me so much that s/he volunteered to come here and live the short, boring, dependent, and captive life of a dog in order to teach me what love is, and how to love.

And by love, I don't mean care for. I mean love. Unconditionally. And not just love unconditionally, but love in a way that, even if you don't get love in return, you give it without the expectation of reciprocity. And the kind of love that, even when they make you mad, you can't really go there. Because you are always aware that you will land right back at love again. So what's the point? Love—and the surrender to it—was a power and a blessing Passion and I held over each other.

I consider that a great privilege. Because while some people learn that kind of love, some do not quite get there in this lifetime. Not in a romantic relationship. Not in a friend relationship. Or even in a parent-child relationship. And some don't even know what love is. They think of it as sex. Affirmation. Attention. Money...any number of things. And because they don't know what it is, they don't know how to fully give it or feel it either. They don't know how to surrender. And love is one of—if not THE—greatest things for a soul to learn. I myself, never learned it from a man. Or a parent. Or anyone else. I think my mother came the closest to knowing it and feeling it, but anything I learned about it from her pales in comparison to what I ended up learning from a dog. 

Wrapping up the story of Passion so I can tell you what happened, when Passion was five I could see she was bored. And since Passion and I were both stubborn, and also because both of us just take ourselves too damned seriously, I proposed getting another dog. That dog was Kizzie, the boy I watch sunsets with. I let Passion co-parent him. And she ruled with an iron fist. I'm adding in many links, because the story of Passion and what I learned from her has so many good nuggets I couldn't possibly say them all here. Anyway, she was rather oppressive to be around for both me and Kizzie, and I think she has visited many times to make it up to Kizzie, at least. 

Pashie as a puppygirl, still growing into her ears.
As you can see from the picture above, Passion was a beautiful dog. And she had this quirky thing where one ear stood straight up and the other flopped down. Another thing you might be able to see in that top pic is the regal, soulful way she could look at you. So one of "our things" was that I might catch sight of her and, with hands on top of my head simulating ears, I would signal one ear up and one ear down. And then I would smile or laugh, because my god, she was just so precious.

So earlier this week I'm at a stop light and, in the back of the jeep in front of me, I see a German Shepard mix with one ear up and one ear down. Without thinking, my hands were on top of my head, and I was laughing. Until I realized it had been 8 or 9 years since I had done that. Then I cried. At which point the dog looked at me head-on and looked EXACTLY like that photo above...that soulful look. And in the black and brown of the dog in the back of the jeep somehow...somehow I saw my red-headed Passion. For a second, she was there. And I lost it. 

All that day and most of the next I felt her with me. And each time I thought of her, I started weeping. At one point, I "asked her" why she was here. Kizzie is old and I was afraid maybe she was coming for him. But what I heard back was, "I come and see you all the time, but you never see me. I wanted you to see me." I'm crying again, just thinking about it. 

You know, I had mentioned that Pashie's strong personality was oppressive. And as guilty as I feel saying it, there was some release when she died. Of course I was heartbroken, but I also felt the lifting of the oppression. As a kid we got a new dog immediately after the old dog died. So within a few weeks, Kizzie and I chose the funny, sweet, loving and incredibly loyal Magick Moonbeam. 

Kizzie and Magick, sharing guard duty in the back yard.
I don't feel like I neglected mourning Passion. She died right before a weeklong vacation and Kizzie and I healed a great deal during that time. Passion had once had a really deeply spiritual encounter with a deer...I should tell that story sometime ...and we went to the site of that and held a little ceremony for her. And after her ashes came back, he and I released them where she wanted them the river she loved to swim in. 

But I don't know. This German Shepard thing made me realize for the first time in a long time how much I missed her. And, at first I thought maybe all the crying was some sort of delayed grief. But maybe it was just to remind me that the mourning never goes away. The missing never goes away. My mother has been gone 33 years—way longer than I ever knew her—and I can still ache from missing her. 

But maybe there is yet another reason this made me cry. What Passion "said" really strikes me...she can see me, but I can't see her. Pictures are one thing, but seeing that kind of "incarnation" is stunning. When she was alive, I used to tease her by saying, "You pretend not to love me, but you really do." Chow dogs are known to be aloof. Passion meted out her demostrative love like a miserly old lady pulling a quarter out of a coin purse. It was part of the oppression...lots of stern looks and a blase attitude toward snuggles and kisses and other shows of affection. 

But this week she came back, not just to see me, but also so I could see her back. And maybe that's why this has been so emotional for me. Passion really did love me after all. She loved me every bit as deeply as I loved her. And she finally learned how to show it.