“Lay down on your back and put your hands on your belly,” says Devaya. She is preparing to do energy work on me to help me process through a devastating sadness.

She presses her thumb hard into the base of my skull and cups her other hand over my forehead. Tears streaming down my cheeks, near hyperventilating, I focus on my breath.

I breathe deep filling my stomach, ribs, chest. Hold it, then exhale stomach, ribs, chest. I repeat, feeling a calm spread throughout my body. I drift off.

I wake up and find myself in a big city like New York except everything is made out of an oily black goop like tar, but all the edges are razor sharp.

I’m stuck in place and cannot move. I don’t care. I think I want the colors to come back, but even the effort to imagine how to begin that process is too much. The thought flees.

After a long night of standing in the same dark spot and feeling numb, I see the sun cast a brown and oily first light as it creeps up in the distance. A few inches above the horizon, it sets again, giving up in the face of effort. Black raindrops fall from the black sky.

I sink deep into the earth. Cool rich brown soil packs tight against my body, holding me down. I’m not panicking, but I do have a casual desire to rise up out of the grave.

I feel an intense heat burn out of my hands, through my belly, and spread all over my body. My body pushes up through the soil, my temperature rising the higher I go, sweat escaping from every pour.

Out of the earth, I roll over to look back down and see I am floating above my dog, Mocha’s grave. Bright colors shine everywhere. I am Mocha. I am with Mocha. I am both.

Mocha was stuck in the ground, but didn’t understand what happened or why she was there. She needed me to set her free.

“Mocha you can pass on, it’s ok,” I tell her as we roll and fly around the backyard, playing.

“But I don’t want to,” she replies.

“What if you go and then come back to me in a puppy?” I ask her.

“I don’t know how,” she replies.

“Neither do I. Well, get into my heart,” I tell her.

She doesn’t fit. Out of ideas, she insists on staying, floating around Tiger’s backyard, but free to leave when she wants.

I wake up from the dream drenched in sweat and feel a sense of peace for the first time since Mocha died.

Yes, Mocha is gone.

I arrived late afternoon to Tiger’s house after moving from Uvita. Mocha was walking dramatically slower than usual and limping more, but I thought it was just a result of the cramped car ride.

When I woke up the next day, Mocha could not walk. She straightened one awkward weak leg at a time until she could hoist her body up. Then she crapped herself. She looked at me like she was mortified. She took a couple wobbly stilt-like steps towards the door and fell.

She did this all morning – trying to take herself outside, but falling and crapping herself in the bed instead.

She had a long history of hip problems, and a short history of occasional incontinence, but for the first time ever I had the idea in my head that this was it for Mocha. I laid with her all morning emotionally in disbelief of what logically needed to be done.

I offered her carrots, bacon, and bread. She didn’t want her favorite treats. She had a pleading in her eyes I had never seen before. It’s like she was telling me “it’s over.”

My friend, Tiger, walked into the room. “Erin, I don’t know how to say this, but have you thought about putting her down?” I burst out crying. I wasn’t the only one getting that vibe. My dog was suffering. I had to help her.

Tiger called the vet and two came over to assess the situation. “We can make her comfortable with drugs and keep her alive, but she is going to be bedridden, incontinent, and not happy. The most humane thing to do is to put her down.”

I laid with her as the vets hooked her little leg up to an IV. It was all happening way too fast. I worried about whether I forgot anything or if I needed to do anything. I wanted to scream STOP.

Her favorite tennis ball, stuffed squirrel, and fuzzy blanket were there. I hugged her, and stroked her saying “Good girl, good girl, good girl Mocha” keeping myself under control so she could pass in peace. I regretted not giving her more attention, I couldn’t believe this was the last time I had to show her affection.

She seemed gone. “Is she dead?” I asked the vets, feeling myself about to burst.

“Yes,” they confirmed. A long haunted wail escaped my body and I collapsed.

Tiger’s yard was very rocky and the hole we dug wasn’t deep enough. I sat there for an hour with Mocha’s lifeless body while someone else went and bought a bag of lye. I stroked her ears – they were always so soft like velvet or suede. They still were. I thought about cutting one off. I thought I was gross and crazy.

I placed her body into her grave with her favorite things: her tennis ball, stuffed squirrel, and fuzzy blanket. The vets covered her with a layer of lye, dirt, lye, dirt, until the hole was filled.

And just like that, Mocha was gone.

Goodbye Mocha. You were a good girl.

dog tombstone sugar skull

One of the stones that we dug up while excavating Mocha’s grave was the shape of a dog’s head. For the first time in years, I felt inspired to create real art again. I painted a doggie sugar skull on the rock and made Mocha a tombstone.

rottweiler pitt bull puppy

Mocha was 5 weeks old when I got her. A Rottweiler Pitt Bull mix rescued from a dog fighting farm, she was the runt of an unwanted litter.

rottweiler pitt bull puppy

Mocha was the cutest puppy! She chewed through everything, though. She was my first lesson in letting go of material possessions.

me and puppy mocha

Mocha loved to play chase. She would run, I would run after her. She would laugh at me.

me and mocha

That time Mocha and I had the same hairstyle.

dogs dressed up for a christmas card

Mocha was always a good sport, just happy to be part of the fun, no matter how crazy the humans were being.

mocha at the beach

Mocha loved the beach!

mocha on the beach with alien antennae

Everyone wanted a photo of their baby with Mocha when she dressed like this.

mocha and mali at la isla

Mocha taught Mali everything. Lucky me. Lucky Mali. We both miss her.

This was chapter 5 in my Leaving Costa Rica Saga. Next up I move to another beach in Costa Rica, the last stop before heading to disaster in the US. Subscribe here.