I am grateful and honored to serve in my role as CARE Center leader for the Northern Tier at CARE. I believe all that has happened in my life, the trauma, and healing and the joys and losses have led me to CARE, my life’s work. I recently honored the 9 year anniversary of the passing of my beloved Red Lake nation dog, Ahnung (means ‘star’ in Ojibwemowin). Writing was one of many tools to help me move through the grief. Below is a post on our last night together. I believe Ahnung led me to my work with indigneous communities and to CARE.
Last November when I learned Ahnung’s cancer had metastasized to her lungs, and after low-dose chemo didn’t work to shrink or even slow down or stabilize her tumors in her lungs we made the decision to walk this Final Walk together and to let my sweet girl live out the remainder of her days in nung-nung style … glorious, wise, calm, playful, purposeful, magical, and the list goes on and on. I made a video in January, 2013 to honor the beginning of this Final Walk. I’ll be honest, there was a part of me that never imagined she would still be with me today. These past 8 months blessed me not only with her presence but with such wisdom as I continued to witness how she touched and healed not only my heart, but the hearts of so many kids, her friends in hospice and served as an amazing role model for the foster pups that came through our home and for her little brother Legacy. Just 3 days ago she was tearing around the backyard with Legacy. And just two weeks ago, she was ‘at work’ up at Leech Lake Reservation.
In my gut, I always knew my precious girl would live life with purpose and intention and gusto, and then, she would one day just tell me, ‘It’s time.’ With how well she has been doing for the past 8 months, I admit there’s a part of me that became hopeful, that wanted to believe the cancer had gone, that she was going to make it to her 8th birthday on October 1st, and to have her warm spirit for yet another cold Minnesota winter. But the other part of me has known this time was coming.
This morning, I watched the Final Walk video I made in January of this year. I am sharing it again … as we prepare to once again celebrate Ahnung’s Life on Sunday, and to say goodbye to an old, wise spirit. I will forever be grateful to Karen Good of Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue for leading Ahnung to me in October, 2008. She is my spirit dog. She is my north star, and she has guided me through my darkest moments.
For those of you coming to her Celebration on Sunday, I ask you to consider bringing a rock, or something symbolic to how she has touched your heart. She is preparing to move onto the next phase of her journey … I ask you to join me in supporting her and surrounding her with love, light and healing … and she in turn asks you to hold her in your heart. And for those of us who have lost a loved one, she will take a message to them, and she will join them in the heavens above, and will continue to shine brightly on all of us. As I hold her tightly, my heart breaking and tears falling, I can feel her tell me, ‘it’s okay … my work is done, it’s time for me to move on.’ I know she will always be with me …. Her work will continue through me and through so many other people whose hearts she has touched deeply. I know I am alive today because of my precious girl. I know she has taken a lot of my health issues. Dear sweet girl, I am grateful for all you have given to me and for walking with me through our shared health challenges. And as you take these final steps, I, along with an entire community, are with you every step of the way. Don’t worry about me precious girl … I will be okay. You have infused your spirit in your little baby brother Legacy. When you are gone, and I hold your crazy brother Legacy, I will know I am holding you 🙂 I will take your lead, and when it is time, I will be there holding you.
To what is good
Even if it is a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe
Even if it is a tree which stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do
Even if it is a long way from here.
Hold on to life
Even when it is easier letting go.
Hold on to my hand
Even when I have gone away from you.
~ Pueblo blessing
Link to blog: https://mariloureflects.blogspot.com/