Bali was our pet dog, a labradoodle. He died today.
Last week he was diagnosed with cancer. The vet gave him a maximum of three months to live. He only held on for one week.
I have not cried my heart out for anyone as much as I cried for Bali.
What was it that touched my heart to mourn his departure to the point that I am practically devastated?
Bali was a human being in a dog's body. (I suppose some people could be dogs in a human body....) Bali had a sense of humor. He would tilt his head when we would say something funny. He understood what was said to him in any of the languages we speak at home, English, Spanish, or Hebrew. We did not have to repeat instructions twice. He followed commands without any resistance. It was easy to get along with him. He never asked for anything and accepted whatever was given to him gratefully. Whenever any family member would come home, Bali would be there, wagging his tail, receiving them rubbing his head against their leg.
But that is not it, really. Many dogs are like that.
Bali was special because he was a manifestation of love which is hard to describe but easy to feel . It is his demeanor, how he looked at you, how he rubbed his head against your leg ever so gently, not demanding but being present and surrendering to you.
What brings tears to my eyes is how he died. He lay down in front of us and did not move. If approached, he would wiggle his tail. He had no strength to lift his head or open his mouth and eat something, but would wiggle his tail nevertheless, until the last moment, as if to say: no matter what, I love you and I want you to know that.
He did not whine or make any noise. He just suffered quietly, peacefully. He accepted his death without losing a moment to love. His last moment was when he lifted his head, looked at Nurit, my wife, wiggled his tail, and took the last breath of his life.
I say to myself that is the way I want to die too. Peacefully. Accepting the inevitable. Surrounded by love and showing my love until the last minute I am alive. And while alive, I want to live without a grudge, welcoming everyone into my life with a "wiggling tail," no mater what.
We buried Bali in our garden. Planted a pomegranate tree over his burial site so we will never forget the member of our family who taught us about unconditional love.
Ichak Kalderon Adizes