Chronos & Kairos Part 2
Today's journal is Part 2 of "Chronos and Kairos." It is my journey of the loss of my beloved dog and my exploration of the grieving process.
As our walk was ending the sun was sinking lower and lower on the horizon. It was a beautiful summer evening. August in Minnesota means we know our days of sunshine and warmth will be ending soon so being in the moment can feel intense. I didn’t want to go inside. I wanted to stay outside with Kai. I wanted to watch him explore in the yard being himself. The self I knew. Curious. Smart. Brave. Loving. Gentle.
My husband went into the house and came back with a glass of wine for each of us. We climbed into the hammock and gently swung back and forth with the breeze of darkening skies. It was a beautiful still moment that I wanted to hang onto. Kai came and stood in front of us as we swung on the hammock, then suddenly he decided to walk underneath causing us to almost spill our wine. We started laughing. The more we laughed the more he kept going underneath us. Back and forth our bodies moved as we tried to hold onto our wine glasses. Kai was playing with us, silly and clown like. We were in the moment loving his playful and surprising behavior.
When it was finally dark and the mosquitos started biting us, we went inside. Kai laid down on his bed and I sat across the room watching him breathe, worrying over his stillness. The joy I had been experiencing began to leave me as my heart and mind were facing reality. Sleep came quickly and deeply that night. I was thankful for the extra time God had given me with Kairos.
Around 3:00 that morning I heard Kairos walking around the house which was unusual for him. I thought maybe he was experiencing the agitation or restlessness people have when they begin letting go. Having been a hospice volunteer and witnessing my Grandfather beginning his dying process what was happening to Kai felt familiar. I tiptoed out of the bedroom to find him lying on the floor in the middle of the living room. I went to comfort him. His beautiful shiny coat gone, replaced with patchy fur and scaly skin.
His breathing had become labored. Labored like the breathing of a woman getting ready to bring forth life into the world, or of the dying who are leaving, and breathing forth into the world beyond our own. I looked into his eyes, what stared back at me was a vacancy - some place very far away. He didn’t even know I was there. In that moment I was certain he was leaving me. I would not leave his side. My beloved Kairos would not die alone.
An hour or so passed and I witnessed him coming and going from this life to somewhere else. His eyes would be vacant one moment and then he’d look right at me in the next moment. My mind started wondering if he was having a hard time leaving me, or that he didn’t want me to be here when he died. I didn’t know. I laid down on the floor with him and told him that it was okay to go, that he didn’t need to continue to fight, or suffer, that he was free to leave me, and that I loved him so much. Tears started flowing even though I was trying to hold them back, trying to be strong for me and strong for him. Supporting him as he let go of life. The loss was unbearable and I thought; “God, what was I doing?”
As I finished my thought, he immediately got up on all fours looked at me and said “I told you how this was going to end.” He was angry and irritated as he went into our bedroom got into his bed and went to sleep. I sat there not knowing what to do or how to feel. I know he told me how this was going to end, but didn’t I imagine all that? I wiped away my tears and went back into the bedroom to the sounds of man and creature sleeping.
Morning came quickly and Kai didn’t want to eat. He stood by the front porch looking out while I drank my coffee. Today was Sunday and I was going to the Minneapolis Farmers Market with my daughters. I was looking forward to going out with them and leaving behind all of the sadness I was feeling. The trip was just what I needed; love, laughter and the sights, sounds and smells of the market. When we got home Kairos was standing by the front porch looking out. I mentioned it to my husband and he said yes, he’s been standing there all morning. My stomach dropped. I felt like someone had punched me. In that moment I knew. Kairos was ready to leave this world but he would need our help.
I contacted the University of Minnesota to find out if we could have him euthanized and have his body donated to science. I truly believe that part of our responsibility of animal ownership is to do the right thing and not allow our animals to suffer when the time comes. Donating his body to science would help us and others to know what this disease or illness he had was and potentially avoid the suffering for other animals and their owners. The University was very kind and gentle with me on the phone and were also grateful for our willingness to donate for research. I shared all of this with my husband, and we told the kids. During everything Kai stood at the front porch waiting. Waiting for me to ask him if he was ready. How can I possibly do that?
Standing still at the door I asked Kairos if he was ready to go. He looked at me and said yes he was ready to go. Feeling numb I hugged him. I believe that he stood by the door waiting not only because he was ready to go, but because he could no longer walk. My husband lifted him up and carried him out to the car. The older kids drove separately from us and we all met at the University.
When we arrived they escorted us into a private quiet room that felt like a chapel. They explained the entire process, and then we were alone with him. He was just laying there, knowing, and not knowing, what was next. They came into the room to see if we were ready. I pulled out a pair of scissors from my purse and clipped some of his hair which was the essence of him and placed it into a bag. I was ready. The needle was injected, no pain experienced, and the light from his eyes was gone. We all were sad, he who was so great and mighty was no longer suffering. My heart felt like it was being pulled out of me and I couldn’t stop the pain. I cried, we cried on and off the rest of the day. Sadness hung in our home, his presence and energy gone. Gone like it had never been there. How is that even possible? Where is he? I believe that his essence and energy were waning more and more every day. When he left the house, there was very little of him left to leave.
It was the middle of August. Hot, humid and sunny. I was not prepared for the loss and grief that was to come. I’ve experienced the loss of friends and family so I wasn’t new to death, grieving or loss. However, Kairos being gone shook my world. I found myself crying on and off every single day. My practice at the time provided the relief that I needed. I could focus on the needs of others at my office where it was beautiful, peaceful and alive. When I would come home though, the sadness came back in. I kept thinking when I walked in the door he would be there to greet me, if not physically, then energetically. No, neither happened and I felt like I had been cut off. I kept expecting him to be around the corner in the living room, or soaking up the sun on the wooden floors. It was like he was gone .. and he was gone .. but where is he? I thought he’d connect with me on some other level. I felt lost.
He did not contact me energetically or in my dreams. There was nothing. It made me sad, and I stopped all my activities including getting together with friends. I tried to meet a friend for lunch and I started crying when I told her about Kai, and she said that maybe it was too soon for me to be out in the world, that maybe I needed more time to grieve. She was right. I thought I would have been done by now, but no, the wound was still fresh.
My daughter told me for several days in a row that Kairos had come to her in her dreams. They weren’t anything special or unusual, just that he was there with her. Then one of my friends called me to tell me that Kairos came to her in her dreams. Why was he visiting them and not me? I couldn’t go a day without crying or having feelings of overarching sadness. For seven months I grieved. I kept my world small; work, husband, children, home, repeat.
I was told that the autopsy would take about four weeks to receive. When week five came and I still hadn’t received his autopsy report I called. They told me that they were still working on it. At week eight I received a highly detailed report on Kairos. It was numerous pages with all the tests they performed and the results of all the tests. I scanned to the end of the report to see the cause of death:
“At this time it is determined that Kairos died of a disease that has not yet been discovered.”
“What?!” I thought. “They are kidding right?” No, they weren’t kidding. My mind went back to the night that Kairos told me I would not be able to help him and that they would not be able to figure out what was wrong with him. I started crying all over again.
After receiving the autopsy, I started meditating again to help still my mind from the noise and the longing for my dog. Each morning before I left the bedroom I would meditate, this became a positive experience for me and I could start the day calm, clear, and with less sadness.
One morning while I was meditating my Grandparents came into focus in my third eye. They have each come to me before in my dreams which are always wonderful, heartwarming, and sensory experiences. It was unusual to see them in my meditation practice. My heart swelled up seeing them both. They were smiling at me and I was smiling at them. Like a movie camera lens expanding outward, I could see more and more of them, not just their head and shoulders. As the camera kept expanding outward suddenly between them was Kairos!
Kairos, in all of his giant shiny beauty, one hundred percent healthy and whole, it was dreamy. My grandparents never had any pets and now here is my beloved dog with my unconditional loving grandparents for whom I am so grateful for, for so many reasons. They are all together and happy. I realized that I had just received a huge gift. Not only do I know where Kai is, but that he is in good hands with my grandparents. I finished my meditation and went to the breakfast table where the kids were eating and I announced that I finally know where Kai was. Everyone looked up at me and I told them my experience. It was quiet and I think I heard someone say “that’s nice mom” in a kind and gentle tone. I think they all felt sorry for me and didn’t know what else to say because I probably sounded crazy. It didn’t matter, I now knew where he was. Spring was coming, and I could feel myself returning. Re-entering to the world. Soon it would be time to garden, I would be alone in the dirt with my memories of a basil scented dog weaving through my basil plants, and tearing up tulips.
My seven months of personal grief taught me more than any training I could have taken and it prepared me for the work that lay ahead. Over the next year three people I knew would die, and one friend almost lost their life. Several of those people were close to my age, and one had lived a rich and full life. I worked with more than a few clients during that year supporting them through their grieving process.
Chronos means time, and each day we live according to what time it is. Kairos means the most right and opportune moment in time. In this lifetime of mine, all of time is Kairos. My perception and experience determines how I choose to view it and use it.
“Take time to nourish your mind, nurture your body and feed your soul.”