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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Julie Ernsberger March 21, 2017 at 9:36 am

Losing a pet is truly like losing a relative. It is a loss that will get easier to bear with time yet is one that will always be with you. {{HUGS}} Let Eric’s musical gift be healing. 🙂

Kee Kee March 21, 2017 at 11:23 am

Thank you so much for the kind, wise words. Yes, time will heal. It always does. 🙂

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