This week, someone I know put pesticide on their lawn to get rid of the bugs. They used a mild, pet- and child-safe spray to get rid of bugs that were biting the pets and children.
Who knew that this small thing would trigger such big stuff within me?
(My teachers. Because they are wise, they know stuff comes up, and because they are amazing, they gave me tools to deal with it. Seriously, y’all, go to USM.)
See, this is the story.
When I was young, our dog Happy ate some grass in someone else’s yard.
This was the sixties. No one in our little Iowa town had fences in their yards. Pets and children were free to roam about the neighborhood. But I digress…
Unfortunately, Happy chose a yard that had just had pesticide sprayed on it. She died of poisoning.
I don’t tell you this to bum you out.
I tell you this because, when my friend sprayed their grass, that day that my dog died came back to me, all the feelings and judgements as clear and powerful as I had felt them 45 years ago.
I remember searching with my little brother, and singing “Where oh where has our little dog gone?” as we looked. I hated myself for that, after our dog died.
I remember crying as I stood with my dad and watched the vet put our dog in the back of his station wagon and drive away. I remember she was panting really heavily, and I remember being sure that my dad and the vet could make her all better. And being furious that they didn’t.
I remember the man watching this, and saying something about spraying his yard to my dad. I hated the man for killing our dog. And my hatred scared me.
Today I realized that I was still carrying all of these emotions inside me.
All the powerful feelings and ancient judgements made by a child who did not understand why she was losing her dog.
Today I realized that I could let it all go.
Judgements and anger directed at this man who accidentally killed our dog. Judgements of the vet and my parents, who could not save her. Judgements of myself and my brother for making a game of it and singing as we searched.
I feel compassion for those adults, who watched the grief of small children and the suffering of a good dog, and who knew they were helpless to change the outcome. How hard it must have been to do the right thing, to put the dog out of her suffering, and to know that the children could not understand.
I feel compassion for those small children, facing death and not understanding. And compassion for those children who innocently made a game of looking for their dog, and who later hated themselves for it.
I forgive myself for all the judgements, misunderstandings, and misinterpretations of reality connected to this. And I forgive myself for judging myself for holding on to all of this for so long.
Rest in peace, Happy.