Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Five Bowls

Five bowls, not six. Before, there were six. Now, there are five.

Peri, Mayor of Long Beach, King of the Beach, has crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

There are 5 bowls. It sounds like so many, but my truth is it seems like "only," not "many."

If you met Peri, you knew that he was special. We will agree that ALL animals are special, but sometimes you meet a wise one, an elder shall we say. That was Peri. I think animals are here on Earth to be our teachers. They are here to give us messages, to show us joy, love, compassion. Whether we choose to listen, well that's our personal choice.

Animals live in the present moment, there is no yesterday, no tomorrow, but there IS a now. They don't have the static in their lives that people do, they have the gift of clarity. Peri was always about the people. I think a lot about what was Peri's "job" and it comes down to 2 things. To bring love wherever he goes, and to unite people. He was excellent at both.

I've been thinking, what would I do if I knew today was the last day of my life, how would I spend it? Would I panic, and waste every moment wondering why was this the last day of my life, or instead, could I approach life, my day, THAT day, as Peri did?

How did Peri approach life? Well, pretty much just like the last full day of his life.... with absolute joy. Peri was continually fully in the present moment. He was not one to let an opportunity pass. In addition to that, he couldn't get enough adoration and worshipping, this is an absolute fact. If he wasn't getting what he needed, he'd simply move on to the next person waiting in a lounge chair, walking down the beach, or where ever else someone would be.

I remember a few years ago we had a commercial shoot here. I forget what it was for because through the years we've had several shot here for different things. This was a big shoot, trailers rolled up with actors, wardrobe changes, huge cameras and all that went with that stuff. Of course Peri had to check it ALL out. It was absolutely hilarious watching the antics going on as they were shooting scene after scene, while Peri would photo-bomb the whole thing. In the end, we had to pick him up and remove him from the equation (time is money in commercial shooting so we learned). Of course, he did win the hearts of those involved with the shoot anyway. Teeny paw prints in the fresh raked sand between takes.

Back to the "last day" thoughts. Peri, on what turned out to be one of the last days of his life was taken for a beach walk on his leash. Not unusual, we made our best effort to get him out there every day. He was thrilled as always, just like it was his first time out there. He would skittle down the steps (we had to move quickly to keep up!) sniff around the deck, then head left so he could scratch "his" rope. Next, he'd decide if he would go more left or right. To the left, his favorite patch of sea oats, to the right his favorite patch of blue flowers. That day, he turned right.... he went to the seaweed and sniffed, then flopped down making himself as long as possible and soaked up every ray of sunshine he could grab. After enough of that, he got up and began his stroll down beach. To a beach chair... sniff sniff, lay down, sprawl and soak. Up on the move again.... to the small sea oat patch on the right.... sniff sniff... then getting down low and sneaking inside them so he couldn't be seen (except for the leash leading into this spot, so cute!) Next thing I knew, he was on the move his blue flowers. The blue flowers weren't blooming, but, there he went into the large, green unblooming patch anyway. Flop, right in the middle of them. His nose went up in the air to smell.... the sea, the sand, the sky. He watched birds nearby and made 2 halfhearted (still leashed) lunges for them. Did the same with some butterflies nearby. He got up and walked onto the sand towards the seaweed. He didn't go to the weed line, instead he stopped shy of there. He sat down, all regal. He stared at the ocean. He sniffed, and looked at the beautiful sky, then back to the sea. He just stared at his ocean after that, like he was surveying everything, that everything was his, and he was everything. He was connected, fully present. Looking back now, I think he knew his time was short, a secret he wouldn't reveal. If only we had known, what would we have done differently? I suppose nothing realistically, but I do imagine that I'd never have fallen asleep, so I would never miss another moment with him for whatever time was left.

Peri, in "his" blue flower patch, at a time when they were blooming.
I celebrated the miracle of Peri with every breath. He had this "thing" he would do with me every morning. As soon as he knew I was awake, he would stride up to the top of my pillow, and do a combination of sniffing and purring on me that made such a unique sound. It would only be that moment every day, never going to sleep, never relaxing, nothing else.... just that very moment when he first noticed my open eyes. Sometimes after the sniff/purr he would spin around a few times to get comfy and plop down, other days he would stroll to the edge of the bed, jump down and meow. The message was clear on those days "get up, I want something." And, so I would.

The mornings Peri would plop down were dangerous. I would touch his soft fur, breathe in his familiar smell, and just be with him. The other happy vegan would come in sometimes 2 or 3 times trying to drag me up to work.... time to make muffins, flip pancakes, saute vegetables, or some other task required as an innkeeper. It was hard to leave him there, happy and purring. Content. In the present moment. Telling me to be and do the same.... to follow his lead.

Today I am living a present moment with only 5 bowls. All those sayings "he's in your heart" yes, I know, and I say them too. But, he's not. I cannot touch his fur, hear his rumbling, watch his play, or be with him.

If someone were to ask me, I would describe Peri as fearless, fierce, honest, outspoken, devoted, loving, graceful, persistent, classy, elegant and wise. He knew what he wanted, and knew how to get it. There was no language barrier with Peri, he taught all of us Peri-speak. He wanted to experience as much as he could. He was a sun-worshipper to the very end, loved to eat, loved to play, and loved staying up all night during full moons. He loved to sleep in the hammock, make new friends, break down barriers, and do his best to teach those he could how to live simply, with gratitude in one's heart. Despite all that good, he was never one to back down from a fight (he defended his territory without fail, I even saw him tangle with a snake once -- non poisonous, yup the snake retreated). He was a warrior, and knew how to defend all that was his.

There is such a hole in my heart that it is a physical pain. I will never forget Peri, anyone who knew him could never forget him either.

Sometimes out of the corner of my eye, I think I still see him. If only.

As I feed the 5, I am silently counting for 6.

Rest in peace Peri. Mayor of Long Beach. King of the beach.

Peri, King of the Beach.