Elegy for a Fifteen Year Old Sleddog — Afterword
Copyright ©2014, 2017 J. Jeffrey Bragg
With the publication of the preceding "Coda" I had thought I was finally all done with Tonya's Elegy. As usual, the Existence laughed at my foolish judgment. Within a couple of months Realisation struck a blow that could not be countered, reducing the elaborate edifice of my egoistic grief for Tonya to rubble. I have struggled to convey the reality of that blow, in vain I fear. I find these lines a wretchedly poor attempt to communicate that reality, but I comfort my already quite bruised ego with the thought that far more perfectly-self-realised souls than I shall ever be have stood stammering in the same situation, totally unable to find adequate words.
Here at last is the Truth, here is what I've been stoutly resisting:
Tonya went back to the Source, has returned to the All.
The drop has returned to the ocean from whence it came.
What could be bad about that? What has been lost?
I am a wave on that ocean, am not separated, not lost.
My ego, a fish, cries for thirst as it swims in that water.
It is not even funny — a sorry, sad misapprehension.
Name and form come and go, but the Self is eternal.
Tonya and I were together, both part of that ocean,
Equally sharing the Self. Name and form but a game,
An idle story, a slow afternoon's entertainment,
Ripples on the face of the fathomless waters of Grace.
My structure of grief has undergone total collapse.
I feel foolish and guilty now, singing and talking to Tonya.
I can no more pretend that she's here by my side as a dog,
Not when I know that she's closer than my own right hand.
All of my props and supports are suddenly gone.
There is nothing left but surrender to the austere truth:
Tonya and I cannot be distinguished one from the other,
It is only my memories, mind-pictures that remain separate.
What is true is together and One, what was false was divided —
Name, place and form, alive and no longer alive,
Master and dog and those years and all those experiences,
Gone in a flash of supernal illumination, all yielded up —
I must hand it all over to Shiva, it never was true.
Tonya is near to me now as my own beating heart,
Nearer, for that heart will die but Tonya is deathless.
No separation can be, the same Self shines in us both.
Shiva am I, she Parvati, deathless, eternal, forever in Love.
—J. Jeffrey Bragg 17 March 2017
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