Maybe it’s because you were an urchin, the only one to survive the litter. Or, maybe it’s because you were left on our property— your mother off looking for food— and I took you away from her before you were ready. Maybe if you hadn’t been born in the year of the rabbit…
All these maybes cannot erase the fact that you are gone: dead and buried February 18, 2009; poisoned by rat bait left too close for you to resist. Whether anything would have changed the course of your history we will never know.
I remember when we found you on that rainy afternoon ten plus years ago. You crawled out from under our table saw covered in sawdust from the wood that eventually gave you your name: Kashá. Alan thought you were a wild animal, which of course you were. We dried you off, bundled you up, and took you home, thus taking responsibility for your welfare and binding our hearts forever to yours.
You watched us build this house in Punta Uva. You came faithfully each day as we struggled to get it right. When it was done you found a spot on the veranda where you could watch both sides of the house to keep guard over us. When we left to go north to work for six month stretches you were disappointed but never complained. You lived with our hired man, never forgetting who we were when we returned. Your welcoming licks and wiggling whines were enough to make me never want to leave you. Ever. You were an outside dog at first, but were so polite and such good company you became an inside dog. Spoiled, some would say.
But what is it about you that always made me have safety dreams about you? Why did I always see tragedy when I thought about transplanting you from this place to another? Now I will never have to worry, but instead I am bereft.
I have never known this house without you and now it echoes with longing. Everywhere I look, a memory flits just outside my grasp. The pain sometimes so deep I am afraid I will not come up for air. Today I took flowers to your grave out in the potreo. Out where the squirrels will run over your head teasing you to get up and stalk them once again. Yesterday, Alan and I planted a Kashá sapling that will grow tall and strong off your body. We burned incense to help you through bardo, and I will come often and spend time with you as you make the passage.
I could use a little help myself and know if you were here you would sense my sadness and try to cheer me. The Buddha says: “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” And sometimes I can see you in my mind’s eye and know you are well and don’t need my tears, so it is really only for myself that I morn. Left behind to suffer.
I have always strived to attain the Buddhist path of non-attachment, but your death has made it clear that I know no more about non-attachemnt than I know about speaking the Tibetan language. It is all intellectual, this detachment business. The pain and suffering I feel is surely what the Buddha talked about when he said: “He who loves 50 people has 50 woes; he who loves no one has no woes.”
I am drowning, little Kashita, hunkered down in the rain. Waiting it out.
One day I will feel less pain. I will feel less empty and will not brim over with tears when I mention you. I will not, like today, realize that the banana cake we ate for dessert— a favorite of yours— was made before you died, and that I’d offered you some crumbs a little over a week ago. There will be many things like this, I know.
And perhaps we will see each other in another life. You will be going around again, I think. You came a long way in this lifetime, learning to be braver than you’d like, learning not to feel abandoned. But food was a nemesis for you, like alcohol to the addict.
I will be coming around again too, it’s clear to me now. I have not seen enlightenment. Have not learned non-attachment.