Yoda Pies: Mourning and Celebration

by Kee Kee on March 20, 2017

in Change,Memories,Yoda

Three weeks ago my precious Yoda left this world. Eric and I decided we wanted to set him free with a celebration of his large life. The last day of his life began with baking a “Yoda Pie” in his honor. The three of us ate the pie for lunch, and Yoda devoured his piece (an impressive feat, given we had spent the last month begging him to eat). With our first bite, we said “Thank you Yoda!” to express our gratitude for enriching our lives. Later that night, after Yoda was sedated by the vet, my friend Dorry Bless, a Life-Cycle Celebrant, conducted a beautiful ceremony to celebrate Yoda’s life. It involved sage, poetry, Tibetan bells, celebratory words about his magnificent and adventurous life, my thank you letter to Yoda, prayer and an original song of Eric’s that he sang through tears as he played it on the grand piano. Yoda had been near deaf for the past couple of years, only hearing our whistles. But his favorite spot in the house was in the studio next to the grand piano when Eric was playing. We think he could hear the piano, and possibly feel the vibrations. I’m convinced that Yoda, in his sedated state, felt love, comfort and safety as Eric sang him his beautiful song. Soon thereafter, the vet set him free as he lay in our arms.

The next week was without question the saddest week of my life. I had been preparing myself for a couple years as I watched Yoda slow down and become more fragile with age. I thought I had finally arrived at a place where I would celebrate his life more than I would mourn. Well I can now say with absolute certainty that there is no way one can prepare oneself for the loss of a beloved pet. But I was (and still am) determined to celebrate his life and find shama amidst the grief, and thus began my zealous baking of Yoda Pies. Each time the tears overwhelmed me, I would walk into the kitchen and make a Yoda Pie. While kneading the dough, rolling it out, preparing the filling, and while it was baking, I would think about the amazing adventures Yoda had during his long life and how this dog, my greatest teacher, helped me find shama by giving me the courage to live an authentic life. With my first bite of each pie I always say “Thank you Yoda,” as a way to express my gratitude for the many gifts he bestowed upon me.

I clearly have had a lot of tears to work through because I made SIXTEEN Yoda Pies during that first week alone. Apple; cherry-apple; cherry; mango-apple; sweet potato; raspberry; mixed berry; tofu-vegetable; millet oat vegetable; and many others. We can’t possibly eat them all, so we gave some away and froze others.

Now keep in mind, up until now, I think I’ve made only five pies in my entire life. Making pie was always something I found intimidating. My friend Beth Howard, author of Ms. American Pie: Buttery Good Pie Recipes and Bold Tales from the American Gothic House, has long believed in the healing power of pie. Her first book, Making Piece, is a memoir about how she used pie as a way to work through her grief after the death of her husband. But pie was always Beth’s thing, not mine. Yet now, I finally get it. Pie is indeed healing, and it is a perfect way to celebrate Yoda’s life now that he’s gone.

Making Yoda Pies turned out to be the only thing that comforted me during that first painful week. I’ve slowed down the pace of baking Yoda Pies, mainly because of travel last week and travel this week.

I know this intense mourning is the price we pay for having been lucky enough to experience the unconditional love of a dog. I’m not the first, and I certainly won’t be the last, to grieve the loss of a furry soul mate. My heart hurts, and it quite likely will for some time. But my broken heart is a small price to pay for having been blessed with 12 ½ years with my little shama warrior. There is so much to celebrate about the life we shared. So I will continue to bake Yoda Pies, even when memories trigger smiles instead of tears.

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Yoda, Thank You

by Kee Kee on March 2, 2017

in Change,New Jersey,Yoda

I said goodbye to my furry shama warrior on Tuesday night. My friend Dorry Bless, a Life-Cycle Celebrant, conducted a beautiful ceremony celebrating his life, and then he was set free in Eric’s and my arms in the studio next to the grand piano, his favorite place in the house. I read him this thank you letter before he transitioned. Now it is time to somehow, someway find shama amidst the heartbreak. I’ll eventually do it. And he’ll be helping me from above.

***

February 28, 2017

My Dearest Yoda,

It has been the greatest honor of my life to be your human. I’m filled with gratitude that you chose me 12 ½ years ago. We have been family from the moment that you first looked at me with those big, caramel colored eyes and I felt you were looking straight into my soul. We were a team of two for most of the time, and finally we have become a team of three (oh how happy I am to have finally given you a daddy!).

You have been the greatest teacher of my life. But of course that’s the case, given you share a name with the wisest and most masterful of all Jedi Masters. It had to be you, Yoda. It couldn’t have been any other dog to show me The Force. You are a shama warrior.

I was pretty sad and lost when we met. You saved me. And then you led me on the most transforming journey of my life as we drove for five months seeking shama. Here’s the wonderful thing: I actually found it through our epic road trip! Of course afterwards I realized that inner-peace is fleeting. It comes and goes. Life is complicated, messy, and heart wrenching. But I think it’s supposed to be. I think that those of us who embody the human form are put here to learn to find shama in every moment of the chaos of life.

Oh the life we have shared! We’ve lived at the beach, in the hills, on a lake, and now in the woods. California, Texas, Wisconsin and now New Jersey have been home to us. And of course Princess Leia the Prius was also our home as we drove around the country together. You’ve visited more states than many people. What a big, bold, beautiful life we’ve built together.

You have made sure that I safely arrived at the place in life you were supposed to deliver me to. You have prepared me to continue putting all the lessons we learned on the road into practice. I am eternally grateful to you, Master Yoda. Finding shama in each situation that is presented to me will be a constant practice for the rest of my life. I’m ready now to do that without you. I’ll be okay, I promise. I will not pull on your energies when you are gone, but I will absolutely love you in a new magnificent way.

I’m going to miss you. And right now I can’t imagine life without you in it. But that’s the wonderful thing about life, right? We can’t imagine what beauteous thing might be just around the corner.

You have touched so many people throughout your life. You are so loved, even by people who have never met you. But no one has ever loved you the way that I love you. What a gift it has been to share a life with you. Our bond has been such that at times I’ve felt we are one. But the time has come to untangle our souls and go our separate ways.

I’m going to miss your bouncy bat ears, your itsy bitsy Mohawk, your fur that is still as silky soft as a bunny, your soulful eyes, and our walks together. I’m going to miss the way you bury your head into my chest, almost like you can’t get close enough. I’m going to miss just being together as you lay under my desk at my feet.

My sweet prince, it’s time for you to transition to formlessness, and to move on to a glorious place where you no longer are in pain. You can let go of the heavy load of worry that you have carried in this lifetime. Your separation anxiety has been filled with worry about protecting me. But I no longer need you to protect me. I’m safe. I promise.

Thank you for choosing me as your human. Thank you for teaching me patience and unconditional love. Thank you for being my protector and for giving me courage. And thank you for teaching me about inner-peace. Now it is time for me to find shama amidst the grief when you are gone. I’ll do it honey, I promise.

I’m excited for you, my precious one. Oh what wonderful freedom awaits you. Daisy, Leroy, Tessa, Molly and Ollie are all waiting for you. Go to them. It’s time for you to slip into eternal shama.

I love you with every ounce of my being.

—Kee Kee

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