Sarah Burwick - Hard Lessons

Hard Lessons was written by Sarah Burwick about the loss of her 9 year old dog.

I woke this morning with a stabbing pain in my neck. It took me awhile to fully open my eyes since crying myself to sleep left them swollen. I realized the pain was from the corner of the photo album I fell asleep on. Not having been on my yoga mat in a little over a week, today I vowed to return. I willed myself out of bed and placed the album back on the night stand, started the kettle on the stove and opened my laptop to check my mail. I brace myself for the condolences I was about to receive.

Tucker my 9 year old pug had been struggling all summer long with what the vet diagnosed as "really bad allergies." Steadily getting worse, I knew it was more but it wasn't until the tumor in his nose protruded out his nostril that I realized his condition was much more serious. After two weeks of staying up with him at night while he fought to breath, rushing home after teaching to be by his side and making sure he knew how much I loved him, it was finally time to put Tucker to rest.

His last days were full of "I love you talks," hugs, kisses, and walks down memory lane. I talked to him about all the things he has taught me over the years like patience, leading a simple life, giving is always better than receiving and most important true, unconditional love. I told him he still has to look after me from above like he has done his whole life.

Tucker the dog

Tucker is not just my dog. He has been my best friend, my guardian angel and my main man for the last nine years. He has seen me struggle and stood by my side all the while. When I lost friends, lovers, sense of self, health, Tucker was there to remind me I still had him. Although I have been through some lonely times I was never really alone. He sat quietly by my side when I needed to cry. He would let me hug him for as long as I needed when I was scared I would die from cancer. When I got home from my surgeries he would sit in the doorway of my room facing out; guarding my room and every once in awhile come in, rub against the bed and check up on me.

I never walked alone. I always had someone to go home to, I was loved unconditionally and I knew it. Never did I take this for granted. I told Tucker I loved him every day. As I carried him into the vets for the last time I cradled him like a baby swaying back and forth repeating I love you over and over. I told him that he has brought me more joy in my life than I ever thought possible. I can only hope I did the same for him. I told him God sent an angel down from heaven to watch over me in my time of need and that angel was him. He can go back to heaven now and we will see each other again when the time is right.

On the table while the vet gives Tucker the injection I hug him and put my third eye on his. "I love you, I love you, I love you." He looses consciousness and collapses forward into my arms. I weep hysterically as I feel Tuckers soul leave his body. I can't look up for a long time because I don't want to face reality. I wanted to pretend he was with me a little while longer. I stroke him from his ears to his tail with my head still resting on his and tears gushing as I say my last words, "You are the bravest little man I know, I love you, you filled me with joy, I will never let you go. You will be with me every step I take in this world. I am strong because of you. I can't wait to see you again, this is not good bye." The vet starts to leave me in the room alone but on her way out she say, "he was lucky to have you." "No" I said, "I was lucky to have him."

Tucker taught me many lessons, not only while he was alive, but also with his death. Although Tucker was my dog, his soul belongs to no one. Nothing in this world is mine. All that is really mine is this body, soul, and spirit. On my mat today I can only focus on just getting by, sitting with my pain, not even trying to push past it. Tomorrow, next week, or maybe next month things will start to shift, but today I am on ground zero and the hole I am in is so deep I just want to rest here until I can find a way out.

My practice helps me flush out some of the emotions. When my thoughts drift to missing Tucker I catch myself and change my thought to "I love you Tucker." I miss you means I have lost him but I love you is just a reminder of what a beautiful gift he has given me. So as I move through asanas today whether they are challenging or gentle, I will love the entire experience in honor of Tucker. When I love now, it will be the deeper kind of love that he has shown me. It will be from the seat of my soul, the kind Tucker offered up to me with no expectations. This is how I will keep him with me always.

Lying on the mat in my Savasana with the towel over my eyes I cry for Tucker. I cry for my best friend. I cry for my loss. The tears and sweat run together down the sides of my face past my ears. I love you Tucker, I will not forget your lessons. You are my master teacher.


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