In Memory of Roger Rags

By Susan Burns

It is with a mixture of deeply felt grief and boundless gratitude for having shared my life these past two plus years with my beloved four year old roger rags (also known by numerous and spur of the moment corny names, my favorite being Rogery Dodgery Ding Dong), that I write to inform you of his death November 8th, 2005.

clients_rogerrags-bigRoger was diagnosed with severe heart disease in January of this year and given days?, weeks?, perhaps months? to live…One of the many ironies, it has always seemed to me, was that even with his badly broken heart, he managed to go about each and every day of his life with interest, joy and plenty of nap time, while I often found myself practically immobilized by the pain in my own.

I spoke often about him with my teacher at San Francisco Zen center, and he once commented that he found it curious that I would arrive weekly at 6am to meet with him for talk, meditation instruction, etc., when truth be told, I was living all the while under the same roof with a little furry black and white Zen master who knew exactly how to teach me everything I’d ever need to know about living in the present moment…

Roger’s death came just as I had dared hope that it might…quickly and seemingly free of pain, at home after a big breakfast and stroll around his kingdom…Being the gentleman that he always was, he graciously arranged his departure during what has been a very spiritual week for me…This past Sunday evening I had the great, good fortune to meet briefly with his Holiness, the Dalai Lama, who pronounced Roger’s photograph beautiful, pressed it to his forehead, and then presented me with the traditional Tibetan white scarf of greeting which, as I write this, graces Roger’s home-made altar…

Roger’s small altar has grown into quite a memorial site, and the flowers, prayers and good wishes just continue to arrive, filling my days with comfort and gratitude…I have printed and cut out every single one of the messages, and they are strung together on a long piece of ribbon over his altar, so that they flutter in the breeze, sending good wishes out in every direction to all of us… His ashes came home yesterday, and slowly, slowly I am beginning to appreciate some of life’s tiny luxuries without him… The sound of a piece of paper being crinkled up always brought him running, and with his fragile heart, I had to do it quietly so as not to overdo things… Q-tips carelessly tossed into the trash always found their way into his world, and he was often found looking triumphant as he prepared to rip a newly discovered treasure to shreds… So for now, I’m able to feel a bit reckless again, but oh, what I wouldn’t give to have him here with me instead…

If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so that I never have to live without you….Winnie the Pooh

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