When I was younger, my emotions were much more volatile. I could get triggered - and then react to that trigger - quickly. Fear, I am guessing. Fear of the unknown, fear of losing control, a basic forgetting about my inner guidance. Youth, maybe,
In the last twenty years, it has become very rare for me to get deeply shaken up and even more so to react from that place, to lose my s***. Most likely thanks to having learned to meditate and paying regular visits to "that place" inside of me.
Since I moved to Mexico two years ago, it happened twice.
One of these times was pure passion taking over (a part of me delights in knowing that this girl is still in there somewhere), and the other was when one of my babies was threatened.
Mess with my babies, all bets are off.
Fur babies included.
In our early days here, Lila and I had to learn to navigate the busy streets and their many dogs. I knew we would figure it out but every time we left the house I would take a deep breath, talk to her and say "we can do this."
She got her butt sniffed a lot, received a lot of attention and I could tell her nervous system was getting a workout. I kept her on a leash from the house to the beach and then I would let her run around on the sand and at the edge of the ocean, keeping a close eye on her fluffy tail. There, more dogs would approach her and most of the time this turned into many playful romps.
Except for Luna.
A small-medium scruffy white pup, Luna took one first look at Lila and decided that she did not like her. And that she would make sure Lila knew it.
She launched at her a few times on the beach, some squealing ensued, her nerves and mine got frayed, It was not fun.
One day after such a fur-flying fest, at which time I had asked her owner to contain her, the man had found it appropriate to tell me: "I don't know why she does that. Your dog is the only one she attacks."
My dog is the only one she attacks.
Somewhere in these words, I heard that possibly there was something "off" with my pup that caused his usually cordial dog to attack. Something about that rubbed me the wrong way. Something about that was reminiscent of some decades-old memory by which my being attacked had to do with me, not with the attacker. As though well, there was something about me, about my being, that had made it impossible for this person to not violate me. For this dog to not attack mine. Whatever this was gave them both impunity.
I knew I was projecting, I knew I needed to regain some distance.
I tried and I also tried to avoid Luna and her person when on the beach. Shortly thereafter I heard from two people whose dogs had had similar encounters with her, which made my brain feel better but did not smother the seed that had sprouted inside of me.
And then that night.
Walking home in the dark, Lila now off-leash with her tail high in the air, we had been here about six months. Just as we get ready to turn the corner of our street, passing a little restaurant, I see Luna under a chair, while her guy is eating. She takes one look at Lila and she lunges.
I don't know if it was because it was late, because it was dark, or because we were not on the beach - but I lunged right back. In one leap I was standing in front of her owner and man oh man, I had words for him. Meditation or not, I let him know that if his dog attacked mine just one more time, I would ________ and then I draw a blank because even though I remember finishing the sentence, I don't remember the exact words I chose. I know there was something about keeping her on a f**** leash.
Then we went home.
And it never ever happened again.
For months we would see Luna on the beach and her guy and I would smile at each other (which really was kind of him considering my not-so-slight outburst) and acknowledge silently how things had changed. The two girls never became friends but anytime I would see Luna getting dried off with a big towel after a sunset swim, I would smile inside. She and her man were really sweet together.
Things change, things pass, and edges get smoothed.
It was a powerful reminder.
A couple of weeks ago, back from spending the summer in the US, Lila and I headed to the beach at the tail end of sunset.
A few steps from us, I saw Luna's dad laying in the sand. A small scraggly pup at his feet.
"Hey, what happened? Did Luna shrink?" In retrospect I realize that was not a very savvy question, nor was it funny. The kind of thing one might say when they are uneasy, deflecting. After all, the last time I actually talked to him was that night at the restaurant. Come to think of it, I had barked more than I talked. Not pretty.
He looked up at me and said: "No. She died."
I plopped over in the sand next to him, all unease gone. I could feel his heart, the deep grief. I had no words other than to ask what happened. And then he told me. All the details. The sudden pain, the attempts to heal her, that August 5 day when she left her body. He was hurting so much that I could feel it inside of me. He talked about going back to the States, about being lost. The sweet little guy at his feet was a foster dog on his way to his new home that weekend.
We stayed there until the sky turned dark, until he had run out of words. Until there was nothing left to say, nothing to do. His heart now in Time's hands.
After a long while, I got up.
Before I left, he told me where she was buried, at the North end of the beach.
A couple of days ago, Lila and I walked past Luna's forever beach home, and by it, I placed a small green gourd.