A Requiem for Prudence
On Monday, we lost a dear friend. Prudence was “just” a dog, an 18 year-old beagle who has been a part of our family for what seems like forever. Our youngest son Arthur was only a year old when we acquired Prudence on a holiday in Colorado Springs. She survived the Parvo virus as a puppy and later an attempt on her life by a temporarily deranged neighbor who clobbered her over the head with a two-by-four when she was 2.
During her short, albeit long dog life, Prudence made an impression on everyone who met her. She had a loving personality coupled with the typical woe-is-me visage that is frequent in canines of the hound persuasion, making her an object of adoration to all but the most hardened of hearts. It’s a good thing she was so lovable, because she was also the naughtiest dog to ever walk the face of the planet. Prudence never obeyed a command in her life that didn’t suit her own purposes and made a habit of peeing on the floor when it was colder or wetter outside than she liked. She was a woman who above all else, looked after her own interests. Fortunately, she found herself in a family of similar personalities, so she fit right in. She was an independent soul, and unlike other canine companions, who are often submissive to the master, it would seem that Prudence viewed herself as on equal footing with us, as we did her. Our loss is thus one of a true friend and not just the loss of a “pet.”
For 18 years, she persevered, beating the odds and coming back stronger than ever. As she aged, her hearing and then her eyesight began to dim, but still, she never refused an offer of a walk and continued to pursue the scents at the end of her nose with the gusto of a young pup. We were lulled into the belief that she was invincible and that she would be with us for at least another 18 years. Then about a month ago, she started lagging behind on walks, and eventually she stopped joining us completely. Her breathing became labored and eventually, her aged heart and lungs could no longer combat the realities of old age. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.
Some Buddhist and Native American cultures have the belief that the soul resides near the body for a period of three days after death. These three days are a period of adjustment for both the living and the dead. When the three days are finished, the soul is released into the infinite possibilities of the universe. I think it is apt that Prudence decided to leave us on Monday. According to the above tradition, she will find her final peace tonight, entering the world of the eternal on this longest, darkest night of the year, Winter Solstice. The darkness mirrors the vacuous emptiness that her passing leaves in our hearts and home but also reminds us of the promise of light and rebirth even in the darkest hours.
Tomorrow the night will be shorter and shorter still with each subsequent day. We grieve the loss of our friend, but tomorrow the sun will shine its light once again. The New Year and newly born sun will bring the promise of spring and new life, and so it goes.
For more info on Winter Solstice, see previous post: http://www.killingmother.blogspot.com/2010/12/winter-solstice-2010.html