Missing Isaiah

December 25, 2010

Our beloved dog, Isaiah, has been missing since Sunday.  We went out in the late afternoon to do a little last minute Christmas shopping, then attended my friend Nancy’s chamber music concert, then met my sister Amy and her boyfriend for Amy’s birthday dinner at a local restaurant.  When we got home around 9:00, Isaiah was gone.  Our other dog, Gita, was still here, but Isaiah was nowhere to be found.

India changed me.  Visiting Maharaji’s ashram in October, paying homage to my Jenny in the place where her ashes were scattered 9 years ago, having Siddhi Ma’s darshan: these moments integrated my loss in such a way that this year, for the first time since Jenny died, I approached the Christmas season with a festive heart.

Then Isaiah disappeared.  He just vanished.  Poof.  My sweet, devoted, handsome, noble companion fell off the face of the earth when I wasn’t looking.  We have one of those electric fences that shock the dogs when they cross the line.  We had to.  We live on a busy country road, where people drive too fast, and neighboring ranchers shoot dogs.  Isaiah has rushed through the boundary before.  Many times.  He visits the neighbors, chases a rabbit through the sagebrush, pays his respects to the dogs across the street.  But he never wanders far and he always comes back soon.  He has never been gone past sunset.  Tonight is the sixth night of his absence.  I am losing hope.  So much for the Christmas spirit.

Yes, we have done everything: posters everywhere, daily FaceBook messages, visits to the animal shelter and calls to Animal Control and announcements on the radio every day.  Neighborhood watch emails, offers for cash rewards, consultations with animal communicators (who do not return our calls).  Prayer.  And community support the likes of which I have not seen since my daughter died.

This is not the same as losing a person.  I yearn for Isaiah, and not knowing what has become of him is excruciating.  If there were a dead body, we could get on with the hard work of grief.  Instead, we are living in this state of limbo, still hoping for a Hollywood dog-story happy ending, yet feeling that hope ebbing with each passing day.  Still, if Isaiah is gone for good, I will miss him with all my heart, but life will continue much as it has.  We will remember our sweet dog fondly, and we will move on.

When you lose a person you were very close to, the entire foundation of your life crumbles.  At least mine did.  And along with my sense of shattered meaning, my very identity went up in flames.  Who was I if I was no longer Jenny’s mom?  What was my purpose if I was no longer feeding and shlepping and fighting with and doting on my difficult, delightful daughter?

In those first days and weeks and months after Jenny’s death, there were many moments in which I felt catatonic, where it was an effort to take the next breath, when I couldn’t believe that I would ever laugh or enjoy a meal or have sex or celebrate an occasion again.

Isaiah’s loss has sunk me into deep despondency, and I am not in the mood to socialize, but I know that eventually this intensity of pain will pass and I will find a sacred place to tuck my dog into my heart, and rejoin the stream of life.

Meanwhile, I miss him.  I hate that this has happened.  Wondering what has become of Isaiah restimulates the dread I endured that first night when Jenny took off with my car and we did not know where she had gone, until the highway department discovered the broken guardrail the next day, which led to her body, ejected from the wrecked vehicle, laid to rest beside a mountain stream.  It’s NOT the same.  But it triggers me.

Oh, my sweet friends, you who mourn your loved ones during this season when it seems all the rest of the world is celebrating, my heart is with you.  Death sucks.  And yet I would not trade the love I have shared – and continue to share – with my loved one who have died, for all the Christmas cheer in the world.

Light a candle for Isaiah, okay?


25 Responses to “Missing Isaiah”

  1. robert driscoll said

    no one dies. we mourn for ourselves.

    • It’s easier for a sorrowing person (like me) to hear something like this (from you) when qualified a little, rather than presented as a black&white gospel truth. I feel like my mind and heart are vast enough to hold seemingly contradictory realities in a kind of integrated wholeness: “When our loved ones die, their spirits endure. We, on the other hand, are left behind to miss them.” Something like that. But then again I am shy about thinking I know anything for sure in this mysterious life, let alone preaching about it. I prefer to raise possibilities.

  2. Marie M. Rubey said

    I believe mourning for those we have lost is one of the most honest things we can ever do. It’s easy to say platitudes ,self medicate or live in denial.Mourning takes courage— a living hell to “feel” into a new way of living.My prayers go out to all those in grief of lost ones during the holidays and for some humans who have difficult relationships, their animals may have be all they had.

    • I love this, Marie: “Mourning takes courage – a living hell to feel into a new way of living.” You have such a gift for getting to the true heart of the matter. Thank you for your words of wisdom and support.

      • Soosie said

        Mourning does take courage. So does the rest of time. When my husband died and I found myself a widow at 41 years of age, I didn’t know what to do. Literally. There’s no manual and none of my friends had been through such a thing.

        I went to the tattoo shop and got the symbol for COURAGE tattooed on my arm so when I lie in bed, not wanting to get out, I can see it and remember that it takes courage to get up and start the day.

      • Good for you, Soosie. Tatoos are such a powerful way of honoring our loved ones. Recently I attended a bereaved parents’ conference where a photographer took beautiful, artistic pics of all the parents (mostly young – mid-20’s to 50’s, I’d say) who had a symbol of their child tatooed on their bodies, and then did a slide show at the end of the weekend. It was deeply moving. Sending you warm hugs.

  3. Doug said

    I am sorry to hear of your missing friend Isaiah. I think it was in last February I posted a story about my friend Dwight, a misfit dog I found in Alaska, or was found by him when I lived there. We helped each other to heal and in the process became “soul friends”.
    After I had left him with some friends and he had turned up missing I was unsure for several days if he was alive or not. One morning while lying between the state of sleep and awake, in the realm of pure intuition or awareness, he came to me in his essence and then left. His appearance was more in the form of a knowing than a vision, but I imagined he came into my consciousness to let me know he was ok and that he had passed on. I believe this is what that event was about, and for some reason it eased my own burden of guilt, the what ifs, worry and longing, knowing he was ok, and he loved me despite my faults.
    When I was perhaps 7 years old, our family dog, Pixie, who was terrified of firecrackers or thunder, ran off while we were camping up in Northern Michigan on the Fourth of July. We could not wait for her to come back for we had to go back home after the holiday. I prayed everyday to St. Francis for her return until after 30 days we got a call from the humane society up north about 30 miles from where we had been camping. They had one very frightened, skinny dog in their custody with the veterinarian tags from our vet in Grand Rapids. Through them they were able to trace Pixie back to us. We of course drove the hundred and thirty miles to rescue her that day.
    I thanked St. Francis and always remembered this favor. I’m not sure my family believed I prayed every day to him for Pixie’s return, but I had. Pixie later would disappear again for several days in an ice storm; only to be found huddled in a corner at the local mall. She had a tooth kicked out chasing a deer one time (perhaps only a legend created by a child’s memory!) And fell off of a motor boat once and had to have stitches on her leg where the propeller had hit her. How many times she had to be sedated while porcupine quills were removed, I’m not sure. Her life was a marvel of freedom, adventures and close calls, she would not have had it any other way.
    I am not sure if Isaiah has left you or not, but St. Francis if sincerely asked will give you the answer no doubt. I will pray to him for you, to at least give you an answer so you know.
    Looking at Isaiah’s picture, not unlike my dog Dwight in Alaska, if he has left us, looking in Isaiah’s eyes, I would say he was doing something he wanted to do when and if he did leave. I often thought, though perhaps carelessly at times, I would rather have Dwight die early living a life of freedom, than to be tied up or live on a dog run his whole life.
    I am sorry for your apparent lost (I’m assuming you don’t know for sure yet), Robert is right though, we don’t mourn the being when they leave us, as much as the empty space that is left behind.
    If we pray hard enough, and with persistence, our answers will surely come.
    May Peace through Knowing, find you on this Christmas Day. Thank you as always for sharing Mirabai, and I’ll pray for Isaiah.
    Doug in Traverse City

  4. bob thompson said

    We are lighting a candle and holding you in our hearts.

  5. Mary Jo Belongea said

    Hi Mirabai, I am so sad to hear about your beloved Isaiah’s disappearance. My heart goes out to you and all who know and love him. I pray he is only lost and will return to his earthly home with you soon. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    I send you much love and affection…. may your body be well, your mind awake, and your heart wide open.

    Mary Jo from Ann Arbor

  6. dovalpage said

    I am so sorry, amiguita, and I hope you find your beloved Isaiah soon. It just so happens that I found one (a pit bull terrier, it seems) by the North Side Spa yesterday afternoon and I have it home now. I am also hoping to find his owner pronto. Let’s pray for all lost perritos to be reunited with their familias.

  7. Sharada said

    You worded this so beautifully….as always… Pray to Maharaj-ji as I’m sure you are already…My cat KC was missing for 2 months ten years ago & still came back so we never know…

  8. Ahhh, Mirabai. I hear you, on every level. I light a fire.

  9. D.M. Solis said

    Dear One,

    What a lot of loss you’ve had. This must be very hard. I pray Isaiah is with a family or elder that just hasn’t had a chance, with Christmas, to follow through on contacting you or local shelters. Hang in there. It’s a good sign your friend hasn’t been picked up or found. Meanwhile, as hard as this is, I know you’ll be okay, whatever the outcome. That doesn’t change the fact that this must hurt tremendously. Holding you and Isaiah tenderly in prayer.

    Sincerely and from my heart,

  10. Mirabai,

    I’m touched by your open expression and the way you share your experience with us. May you feel our love, support, and gratitude for who you are and what you do.

    Peace to you and your family,


    • It would feel disingenuous for me to pretend that I am some kind of grief expert dispensing the truth from on high, rather than another soul grappling with the human predicament as mindfully and as lovingly as I can. But sometimes I’m afraid I may be losing people who are looking to me as a kind of authority figure who represents perfect healing from the pain of grief and loss. To me, the remedy lies in the heart of the malady. In other words, in surrendering into the mystery we are given that ineffable grace.

  11. dovalpage said

    Mirabai querida, mis mejores deseos para ti. We found Max´s owners, a beautiful family with three niños who were so happy to get their puppy back. Someone may have found yours too, sigue preguntando a todos,

    • Mirabai said

      That’s wonderful, Teresa. Fecidades! It soothes my heart to know that there are dogs being reunited with their humans, even if mine is still unfound. We continue the search. Abrazos.

  12. Saraswati said

    Tears fall from my eyes as I write this note to you and your family. We have 4 dogs that we hold so very dear. Not knowing and second guessing are so painful. Any ending… A death, a loss… that is not forseen is shocking and jarring to our total system. How could it be any other way?

    These losses belong to the preciousness of this life and to the mysteries of each of our unique karma.

    My sincere hope is that if Isaiah has passed that he was living like a dog, free with the wind at his back, chasing a rabbit and being his doggy self. Om shanti.

    Thank you for sharing your heart and your self.


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