Describing how it felt seeing him like this is almost beyond words -- I was utterly relieved! He settled down and I hugged him and rubbed his ears, thanking him once again for sharing himself with us (he was our first dog and we had him 6 years), for being so loving and patient with us, and for being a wonderful big brother to Oliver. I apologized that he had to leave us so soon and unexpectedly.
He said, (not with those moving mouths in animated movies, but as a voice coming from the whole environment), "it's ok, I'm wonderful. Thank you for giving me a beautiful life. I love you and will see you again. Now, go have fun!"
I said, "ok, I will." After we parted and I returned to my body, I knew we would. While the rainy, fecund jungle held us softly, we would enjoy all that we can. I told Drew Charlie's message and he and I agreed.
The people at the ranch, both staff and guests, were open-hearted and interesting to meet. Even the resident dogs were extra sweet to us. I was able to focus on the activities, such as horseback riding, kayaking, hiking, and enjoyed the meals and discussions we had.
But, the nights were the hardest. We had purposely not taken our computers and only brought a pack of cards, a couple of books, and Drew's travel guitar. How I regretted not bringing my computer -- I couldn't write my Sci-Fi book, journal entries, anything. Our bungalow had no TV, or internet/phone coverage, which was also how we had planned it. Each night, I was faced with a pain which seemed to transform the wafting mosquito net above the bed into a white tunnel of sadness, pouring down over our bed. My heart, my whole chest burned and ached, and the pain clasped me like a possessive lover, like death.
Despite the very real visit that I had paid Charlie in the upper world, the fact that we wouldn't be picking him up from the kennel when we returned -- his final look of disappointment at being left there haunted me. Why hadn't I given both of our boys an extra cuddle before leaving? I couldn't rub his belly and hear his appreciative sighs anymore, or his joyful teeth-chatters when I got the dog harnesses ready to walk, his goofy hip-checks and bumps when walking him with his jacket on, even his annoying habit of barking at all the wildlife in our yard -- it all, just crushed me. Also, the thought of Oliver witnessing the onset of Charlie's crisis, but seeing him no more afterward -- without explanation rended me. As gentle as he was, Charlie's presence was so big in all of our lives, part of me just couldn't believe he was gone.
Yet, there was something sweet about the pain -- a sense of humbleness, of gratitude for something that can not be repaid, a sense of shared blessings and peacefulness. Also, sharing the grief process with Drew has brought a new tenderness and depth to our relations since.
As our lovely week was coming to a close, and my pain continued to wrack me like powerful contractions, one thing was certain, going home was going to be difficult.