Eleanor Jane Mair, our daughter, died on the 21st April in Ninewells Hospital, as result of trauma caused by alcoholism. She was a beloved and loving person, who cared for everyone except herself, bringing joy through what she was but also sorrow through what she was doing to herself. She is with God.)
Has anything surprised you since you died?
Everything of course. Not least that there’s an I to be surprised! Most, perhaps, that even the I has changed…
You don’t want to drink?
I’m learning not to miss it. But I’m no longer just myself.
How do you mean?
Well, remember my dog Tara?
I have a memory of the poor brute with a dozen puppies, all trying to suckle at once.
She was so young when she had them. She’d been stolen while I was in a shop and was gone weeks before she fetched up at the dog refuge and I got her back pregnant. She didn’t really know how to cope with them, but they all survived and were given to good homes. That’s how we bonded.
I remember running with you and her in Aberdeen alongside the river Don. She had a kind of daft playful way of splashing into the water…
She was with me in some bad times, through violent relationships, through weeks of no money, through being left alone because I was pissed, yet she always came to lay that big head in my lap. The love of an animal is unconditional.
She became ill at our house, when you were visiting and we found a good vet who diagnosed kidney failure, and we took her home and made a fuss of her. But then she was so unwell we had to take her back to the vet to be euthanased while you held her.
I had her cremated and got the ashes which we scattered in the surf at Tentsmuir, where she ran into the waves.
So, you were saying you discovered something new about Tara?
Yes. I thought I would have to look for her, or maybe she would find me by smell, but she’s here, part of me, not separate, or I’m part of her, the two of us together, although she still has her life and I have mine. Occasionally I feel I’m smelling something through her nose.
One of my serious criticisms of Christianity is its adoption of a very European way of thinking about the universe as being composed of material bits. Buddhism on the other hand, knows that all things are without substance, changeable and connected. I do not stop at the end of my fingers but continue into the surrounding ecosystem of which I am a part.
Of course Jesus wasn’t a Buddhist, but he saw that God was connected to a dying sparrow, and that he was connected to the homeless, naked, starving, sick humanity in his nation.
So he may have been connected to you in your illness, and still..?
I’ve worked out my new relationship with Tara, it may take a bit longer with Jesus.