Ode to Francis: Love connects us all
When he was a baby I started calling him my “sweet son,” and it is how I still think of him. Such an exquisite ball of fluff who grew into a luxurious, handsome dog. He is the perfect blend of a husky and a German Shepherd — loyal, curious, smart, strong, independent and very connected to his chosen clan and to the unseen.
The first time I saw his little face was in a photo that the SPCA posted when they were looking for homes for him and his brothers. I knew in an instant that he was meant to be a big part of my life.
One of my favourite memories of his puppyhood is every night for about a year, he would get up from his bed in the middle of the night and walk over to me as I slept. He would wake me up as he planted a soft kiss on my lips, and then he would take himself right back to his bed. Such gentle and loving moments those were.
Quiet confidence, combined with a goofiness that included a daily howl-off just for the fun of it, drooling for smoothies and expressing his level of fatigue through his widely variable ear positions. And wow, what a gorgeous creature. Soft and shiny fuzzy fur, ears all askew, adorable eyebrows and love endlessly expressing through his big eyes.
While I deeply miss those big eyes and the sounds that emerged from him, I know we are connected beyond the physical. Sometimes that knowing is all that gets me through my moments of deep grief for not having any connection with him in this realm.
While this might sound like an obituary, Francis is still fully alive. He is just not present in my life. I don’t get to see Francis or even hear about him these days. Life evolves and circumstances change, and I have no doubt he finds himself exactly where he needs to be, just as I do.
This week my heart has been so full, it has expanded and expanded — and it all began when I had a massive grief burst for this glorious creature. As wave after wave of grief moved through me, my heart cracked open even further.
In this state of wide-open heart, I made a beautiful discovery today.
After a year of being on the move, exploring different places with my Love, Melissa, we have finally come to a place of stillness. We find ourselves immersed in the abundance of the warm, lush, alive, vibrant east side of the Big Island of Hawai’i.
I have been running on the dirt road where we live for about a month and half now, and it gives me a chance to really see this neighbourhood. I see the trees and the flowers and hear the birds more each time. Already I see the subtle changes that I may have missed if I were still moving around. I see new flowers emerging as spring is in full flow, and one of the amazing things I have done is get to know the dogs who live on our road when I am out for a run.
The first couple times I ran, the neighbourhood dogs barked at me extensively (and I don’t blame them because they perceive it as their job). Being met with barking and not making much progress getting to know them with spoken word, I started speaking to them silently as I ran by. I would send them love and respect and appreciation. Eventually, they stopped barking, and now I silently speak to each one before they sense me, and by the time I run past we just admire each other.
At the end of the road, there are two dogs in a yard who have caught my attention the most. I usually start speaking to them when I am about a half mile away, so when I arrive we are all caught up and ready to just bear witness to each other. One is a gentle mid-sized mutt and the other is a German Shepherd teenage puppy. The puppy is quite disabled, having no ability to use his back legs. I’ve watched him drag himself along the grass at the side of the house, and he has never been at the fence so I could see him up close. I send him special doses of love, knowing his life is more challenging due to his physical limitations.
Today as I was running toward their property, I felt like we were connecting in a deeper, more meaningful way. When I got to the end of the road, I did not see them in their yard and I was surprised because the channel seemed so open and flowing between us. I thought they must be in the house. As I turned around to run back home, I saw him — the Shepherd puppy was right there in the corner of the property against the fence and only about two feet from where I stood. He was laying there so sweetly, looking up at me with his huge big ears, his soft fur framing his innocent and loving puppy face. We stared at each other for a moment, and I burst into tears. The love flowing between us was massive. I told him over and over again that he was beautiful and he just looked at me with so much love.
In that moment, as I was feeling this amazing being, I could also feel Francis — in fact, I could feel all the love that exists in the world.
I know that Francis and I are connected in a bigger way than the physical. I know he walks with me as we both fully live our earthly experience.
Sending you an endless number of “middle of the night kisses,” my sweet son.