by Gwen Davis
Mimi was a Bichon Frise, a little puffy white dog of inspiring intelligence and charm. The placing of her ashes in a young coconut, and sending her to sea off Bali, where I have come to live since her shocking departure,-- it is the one place we had not traveled together since dogs were not allowed,-- had to be postponed until the day of the full moon, which is now, because when you do ceremony in Bali it has to be at an auspicious time, or the souls do not rejoice as they should. At least, I think that’s the reason. There’s so much mystery and superstition around Bali that one cannot be quite sure. You just have to leave your heart open and see what happens. At any rate, I do.
So Mimi, whose last great earthly journey was to Bali in my suitcase, in a little flower-printed metal box from Hartsdale pet cemetery where she was cremated, got taken to the beach at Canggu, because that is where you are allowed to do your ceremonies. Yoni, my darling driver, came today bearing five little baskets woven from palm, with tiny flowers and petals in them, and we went there, pausing for her to light the incense, and scatter a few of the petals. Then we went down the stone steps to the sand. The waves were very strong and forceful so even though I had been ready to take the coconut into the water and send her on her journey to the Infinite, I thought better of it and signaled to the single surfer taking it all on, and asked him if he’d carry her out beyond the crash of them, and he did. His name was Alex, a French Swiss, very handsome and blond and young, so I think she would have liked that. He said I spoke excellent French, so you know he was that rare Frenchman who doesn’t turn up his nose at Americans and say “I speak English.”
I never really knew the exact date of Mimi’s birth, but I do know the exact date she died, June 17th. It was all very sudden and hard, because I hadn’t really known she was ill—there was just a few little signs that something was off. As my friends knew, she was brilliant, and could spell, so when I said ‘You want a T R E A T?’ she would run to the closet and stand on her hind legs. Lately she had stopped jumping up onto my bed—I had to lift her—and when I spelled TREAT, she started running to the wrong closet. But I took her in to see the vet just as part of a regular schedule, stopping first at the very pricey groomer so she would look her best for her appointment. I had told the vet she seemed to be favoring her neck, and the vet, a very sharp woman, said ‘Call the neurologist.’ And I said ‘What?’ And she said ‘Little white dogs.’ By the time we got to the hospital, it was like everyone knew, and they put their arms around me, knowing. They did a spinal tap and an MRI, and she had eight spots on her brain—there’s a mysterious virus that attacks toy dogs, mostly female. A sexist virus. There must be something we can do. Where is Gloria Steinem?
My friend Carleen, who loved her as much as I did, had been up all night worrying, as I was, and said, with a relieved breath, as though she had come to terms with the inevitable: “We will see her in the clouds.” When we went back to the vets the next morning and sat with Mimi, she wasn’t really there anymore. So I sang her a lullaby and they put her to sleep in my lap, and somebody came from Hartsdale to pick up her body for the cremation. She was all over the sky in New York, but clouds in Bali, where I came to recover from my loss are different from the clouds in Manhattan. They are pretty much strung out across the horizon, instead of fluffy with holes in them that looked like her big black eyes. But today, after we sent her out to sea in her young coconut, there were Mimi clouds, puffy and lush and generous, some of them gray around the edges like the day was, I guess from the ashes.
I had lost an earring in my bed before leaving New York for this move, and Carleen, who is very good at finding things that seem to have disappeared didn’t feel like looking for it when she was helping me pack up. So I’d brought the other one, the one I still had in my ear when I woke up that last New York morning. It was a star, a diamond. I put it in the young coconut with Mimi’s ashes. It is only right that she should have left with her own diamond. She was a star.
Gwen Davis is a novelist, journalist, and world traveler. Her new novel, SCANDAL, will be available online from Amazon.com the end of November. Her many other novels are available on Amazon now.