It has been a year since Lupine died. I am out of the desert and at the ocean. On this day I travel up the coast with her blanket in the back seat and stop at a tiny farmer’s market and find a man selling flowers and buy white beauties.
The day is stormy and the waves are high and the winds strong. Getting close to the beach is very hard but finally I find three places where I can offer the flowers, her name tag and fur along with a piece of her quilt that I have had in a tiny green box.
The first place is a cliff and the waves hit up against the shore and I fling the flowers out onto the waters and they mix with the foam. As I head back to the car I see a road on the other side of highway one and it leads me up to lovely thick trunked cypress with while lilies growing in the bracken field behind them.
I dig at the root of one tree and carefully place the name tag in the quilt. I have left the fur in a low lying nest in the crotch of a tree that will be there for spring.
This year we have gone in the four directions and each place has given magic to the ceremony of grief and praise. One place where I left her ashes and came the next day I found a great blue heron standing on the stone that I and stepped out on up in the northwest as terns sang softly during that time.
Ashes have been left on a trail where she tripped a deer and sat on it by a small creek. The circle of life and death. At that time the deer sprung up and was free to go but when Lupine fell down that last time she was not free to go back into this life but moved into her own great mystery.
Grief honors love and praises the life that has lived with vulnerability. I remain with Lupine in all my days and feel the lightness of the year floating on the foam in white flowers.
There are always signs at each outing I have taken and this time it is St. Anthony who for me was the patron saint of lost things as a child and I would pray and I would find what I was looking for. One time losing some glasses in the woods as I circle the hill Lupine comes up and puts her foot right on the glasses and another time she stands on an arrowhead and now on my heart.
As I leave the shore and go into the town of Pescadero there is a church for St. Anthony in the center of town and Lupine is found in everything.
Flocks of migrating birds slip in and out of the trees. The crows are in their murder and stark at the snow falls and they circle about again this evening. Lupine remains intent on their presence pissed they can fly.
I have been quiet for a while with words. Lupine remains fully in view with everything I do. It is fine and it is difficult. The passing of time and the end of an era is always stark but the work and life itself is meant to be digested and assimilated and back into the body and heart of life and myself.
I heard from friends that Lupi’s ashes were taken to the Gila where we used to live and my friend’s husband brought and elk bone that Lupine eagerly looked forward too when she saw him and they brought some flowers and launched her ashes down the Gila.
The book that I am reading by Martin Prechtel describes a set of rituals for grief and praise; The Smell of Rain on Dust. It is remarkable how I have gone through these various aspects he talks about with Lupine at death and now with her ashes. He mentions the ocean as a last place to visit with a grief friend and I will do that in California and have dear friends that will accompany me at that time. I trust that will be possible for Lupine and myself.
I am letting death inform life, grief inform praise each day with Lupine and life.
Lupine died today a month ago at 11:00am against her will. I feel her fight and energy to live. Today I am sitting on the toilet in the bathroom and right in front of my nose there is this yellow jacket buzzing to be let out. It flies up and away from my face to the mirror and looks at its reflection curiously. I climb up on the sink, and put it in a glass and take it outside to the wisteria in bloom next door.
When I go to my computer there is a note from my friend up in Paonia that he has set Lupi’s ashes into Minnesota Creek in Apple Valley in Paonia where she was a pup and I first found her just outside of town mixed in with horses leaning into me when I arrived, wolf dog parents, and cattle in the distance. I think about the trepidations I held at that time given her wild sense and overly bitty nature as a pup that eventually turned into a scar under my eye. I could tell she was a force to be reckoned with but I kept choosing her. One other time I thought it might be best to stay with my partner when we split up but that faded and when we moved I drove to the south from the north and she rode with me close to my chest like velcro in the car the whole ten hour drive through the Colorado mountains and pass.
What a good thing she was full of something so vital I could always find it and I still do in the clear air ,and the flowers and sensing her rebirth in this season, and feel that time in fall during her puppy entry to life. Her bite that one the time was fear and not some attack but it was a close call for my eyesight. I have her mark and we are related like blood sisters.
I saw this sign on my evening walk last night and looked over to the path against the fence we would zip out to early within the complex where we have been living and happy to feel maybe she is out there with the coyotes winding up at dusk.
Very windy today and it feels good to get up in the mountains to the creek I went to towards the end of Lupine’s life and leave some ashes. It is a simple walk from the car to a picnic area and beyond to the Little Tesuque that runs along the road.
I do not know why but often Lupine would want to cross the main road and go over to the steep hillside. Maybe she sensed deer or it just looked more wild to her but we sat by the creek and she drank the cool water and perked up whenever we came to this spot, and eventually would eat in the car. Sometimes it took most of the day before she ate but I would sigh a relief, and be in a better mood when she did.
I have an inch or so left of the ashes in her heart jar and want those to go to the ocean with me when I journey there this summer. I have been able to spread her ashes and bits of bone within a month of her death to lovely places we have shared. It feels very good to do this on this earth and water she walked on so vividly and energetically and fiercely.
Time does not heal but gratefulness and peace with life’s rhythm only causes suffering when I resist it. I feel it is such a shock to have such a close friend die, a partner, who is an expression of joy and unconditional heart just vanish as one’s companion. I think I am always going to be someone who fights what is rather then makes peace with letting go.
I mailed off two more packets of ashes today. One is going to Paonia, Colorado and a friend will take them to the creek where Lupine played as a pup and the area she was born. The other packet will go to the Gila River where Lupine really grew up, swam and played with Dancer dog and we hadencounters with wild pigs and ring tail cats and the works.
I stand in line at the post office and people are there with piles of things to mail and it seems a long time but I just take in the day. I worked at the office and before I went there I went on a long walk on the urban trail.
It is so odd to help with projects at work, and never be invited into the projects itself when it is taped to watch. Work is a two man band and that is how it is and other old friends that are men and probably more skilled. I certainly have asked. Most projects with native peoples here is a contained community but I hear about the visit to the old photographer Lee Marmon they went out to meet with about use of photos that are amazing that capture the rituals and the life which was strong before any of us lived here but it seems I cannot even be a fly on a wall.
I know it is not about me but it is the system here and the private way these folks work in their lives, and I need to say I am tired of solo. I know how much Lupine and I created our own adventures and so I feel that absence even more strongly when I am around work. I feel lonely.
This is Paonia and where Lupi was a pup and this is the Gila River where she spent some of her early adolescence and her ashes will fly into the creek and the river of both of these places and I am grateful.