Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
He stood beside me, pointing the way with his black nose… and yet, I could not reach out, shuffle the black fur, caress the ears… he stood beside me, pointing the way, pawing at the rocks, and yet, they did not move, not a leaf flutter.
I had been thinking about this for days. Because of Him, the Black One… who came and lay beside me, untouched, untouchable, and yet… there. For days I had been thinking about it.
It started with a pair of wolf teeth. One, from a Paleo-Wolf, an almost fossiled tooth, it was so old. I don’t remember where I got it now, just that I had, and sometimes wore it. And the other, over 80 years old, come from a monastery in Tibet, where they said it was time to let the holy things out into the world, that the right people would come for them.
But he didn’t like it when I polished them, oiled them, wore the Paleo-Wolf’s tooth. He had something else in mind. And he showed me, he wanted me to have one last gift. One last connection. To wear against my heart, to hold when I mourned his loss, still mourning, after so much time has passed.
Too much talking, too much messaging, about him, about dogs, about companion animals, and what they mean to me. What he meant to me.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
I knelt softly in the deep leaves, cleared them away where he pointed. The rocks came next. He was insistent. It was okay. He wanted me to. One last gift.
There would be payment. There must always be payment, the dance of gifts, the exchange. Tears filled my eyes. Fear filled my heart. What if he was wrong, what if it wasn’t right there where he pointed? What if he wasn’t ready to give this gift to me? What would I find?
The rocks laid gently aside, I dug with my hands. The dirt under the blanket of leaves and rocks was hard, frozen. I dug. It came up in clumps, black dirt, black, just like him. He stood beside me, encouraging me on.
Was this it? No, a tree root. Was this it? Almost. The top vertebrae. Yes. This was the spot, and it came easily from the ground, the black dirt falling away leaving a shining thing of beauty in my hands. I was stricken with awe. Unbelieving I was holding it, holding his skull in my hands. Just where he showed me it would be. I thought fleetingly of taking it all, the skull, so beautiful, so large, so white. No slime, no remains of his flesh. Flesh was gone, back into the Mother, into the Earth, into the dirt.
He stood beside me, tongue hanging out, smiling. He had showed me the right spot. Good dog. Good boy.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
The tooth took effort. And so large! Larger even than my wolf teeth, the ones I think I would never wear again. What need, when there was this gift, given by one I loved, and who still loves me? What need?
I placed the skull, less one tooth, back where it had lain. A crystal, a beautiful, large, quartz, laid carefully in his mouth. Payment. The dance of gifts, exchange, and a gift of life given with it.
The dirt was gently placed around it. The rocks gently patted back in place. The leaves brushed back over.
I could barely breathe. I could not believe what I had done. Had I violated his rest? He says no. He is not there. And he knows I will treasure it, baby it, care for it, polish it and string it with the oldest of ivory, the ivory of mammoths and walruses that lived thousands of years ago. I will love it, and wear it against my heart. A little piece of him to hold onto. Forever.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
Note: The reddish color is from red ochre, a mineral used for millennia on the bones and in the graves of the dead. It is not done drying out yet, will glow when it is. I’ll post a picture then.
I’ve decided to put the comments on this post into here, because they are as important to me as the post itself. Almost. But I don’t want them missed.