riding bitch

The life of a writer and survivor of loss.


Spirit Guide

My puppy Ruby is only 4 months old and still discovering the world. Today, on our morning walk she discovered birds – specifically, pigeons. She’s actually seen them before but today was the first time she really noticed one. As she leapt in the air, wagging her tail, yelping with excitement, I laughed – and a stranger waiting at the bus stop nearby also laughed.

The pigeon of Ruby’s affection seemed hardly fazed. It didn’t fly away. It simply hopped a step or two out of Ruby’s reach, which of course made her even more frenetic.

I thought of Kaz. It doesn’t take much for me to think of him, especially around Ruby. I keep wishing we could be enjoying moments like this together, not to mention raising her together. I know for sure he would be better at disciplining at her. And she would have been daddy’s little girl.

But the pigeon made me think of him in another way too.

A few weeks after he passed, his best friend was going through some family issues and missing him. One night, he decided to walk to a local playground to be alone and think. While he was sitting on a swing, a crow flew down beside him and started “ca-cawing” to him loudly and repeatedly. “I felt like it was Kaz trying to tell me something,” he later told me.

On the one year anniversary of Kaz’s passing, I went back to Joshua Tree National Park, one of our favorite getaway spots. It was the first time I had been there without him and rather emotional. After a good cry, I sat on a rock and just looked out at the desert, remembering past trips there together.

Then I noticed a yellow and black bird about 20 feet in front of me and only a few feet above the ground, flying in circles. Once it had my attention, it began to gradually rise higher and higher, in a continuous circular motion, until it seemed to literally disappear into the sun.

At the time, I felt certain that I had just received a sign from Kaz. The bird was yellow and black, the colors of the Pittsburgh Steelers, his favorite football team second to the Redskins (he was from Washington D.C.). It seemed to both appear from nowhere and disappear into thin air. And after seeing it, I felt reassured, like I was not alone.

I should add that I’m not a particularly religious person, and neither was Kaz. He once sent me this quote in an email: “Sometimes I think we’re alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we’re not. In either case, the idea is quite staggering.” – Arthur C. Clarke

But we did feel spiritual and would often discuss various spiritual interpretations.

That said, I’m quite sure he would find these bird encounters funny.

I don’t know if what his best friend and I encountered was “real” or imagined, but there are many civilizations throughout the world who believe animals are part of our spiritual teachers and guides. Perhaps it’s up to the individual who experiences them.

Have you ever experienced an “animal spirit”? Do you think they’re possible?