krieg painting titled kuan yin contemplates attachment
Susan Krieg’s painting titled ‘Kuan Yin Contemplates Attachment’ , oil on canvas 18″x22″

The Story Behind ‘Kuan Yin Contemplates Attachment

There’s nothing like death and/or moving to bring out one’s attachment to people, places and things. On July 31, 2017 my sweet Desiree, 14 year old Yorkshire Terrier died. Her death was even more difficult than losing Mesmer 3 years earlier. Now there is a huge hole left by both of the. I started this painting two week before she died and finished it two weeks after.

I’ve been using Kuan Yin as a vehicle to view different aspects of my world, my perceptions and my emotions. Wikipedia describes her: Guanyin or Guan Yin is an East Asian bodhisattva associated with compassion as venerated by Mahayana Buddhists. She is commonly known as the “Goddess of Mercy” in English. The Chinese name Guanyin is short for Guanshiyin, meaning “[The One Who] Perceives the Sounds of the World”. And if you want to learn more about  the avoidance of attachment a good article to read is ‘Why Do Buddhists Avoid Attachment:’

Warning: If you’re not really a dog lover and don’t understand how some people get so attached to their animals, feel free not to read any further. You’ll think I’m a real sap!

I wrote this letter to Desiree a week after her passing because I knew I needed to change my emotion from depression to gratitude.

‘Dear Sweetest Little Desiree,

I know if you’re been able to see me this past week you’ve seen all the crying and cleaning, the frustration and anger, the sadness and depression. It’s because your presence in my life is so huge, and now without you physically here there are vortexes where you used to lay or sleep or eat.

I wonder if you stayed with me longer than you might have, just because you knew how much I love you and how I told you I wanted you to live forever. An unreasonable request on the physical plane, but reasonable in my heart.

So now I want to thank you and tell you how grateful I am that you spent 14 years giving me everything you possessed. Your qualities are so numerous. First of all there’s your sweet tender lovingness that wagged your entire body when you kissed me. There’s your joyfulness and high level of participation and your amazing understanding of the English language and the ability to read my needs and wants. You were so well behaved in public (no tantrums) always willing to please me.  You were accepting of small rewards for your monumental willingness to make me happy.

You gave me all of your trust and faith to which I feel I failed you. I don’t know why the vets diagnosed you with Cushing’s Disease.  I put all my trust in these vets. I had to guess at what to feed you, how to get medicine into you and I feel that some of the medicine that they told me to give you made things worse. I’m sorry – so sorry if I hurt you in any way. Sometimes I know I exploded emotionally in front of you, especially if you peed on the carpet instead of in your litter box. I don’t really care now, we always got our rental deposits back. I’m sorry for my own immaturity.

I never gave up on trying to make you well and we found Dr. Cook who was able to do acupuncture and laser treatments for you. I think she helped. I just feel bad about all the heart meds and cough meds and the vets that failed you. Forgive us all.

You taught me about some very important values and I will never forget what I learned such as how important it is to touch others, to give them warmth and softness; how important it is to recognize another’s needs and to care for them and give them love and support; how important it is to appreciate the moment and to acknowledge those who share the moment with you.

Thank you Desiree for being with me. I’ve made a place in my heart where you can feel at home when you need to. I’ve asked God to give me a sign that your spirit, Mesmer’s spirit and mine will join together someday. I worry about life after death and I am working on learning how to become a forgiving person and a good person in order to have the joy of you again forever. Please find peace. I hope that you are being the amazing pure light that you are. May I be aware of those moments when I feel your touch. I love you always…………….

I need to tell you also what a strong tough fighter you are. I watched you pull through so many things: leg surgeries, hernia surgeries, bleeding intestines, stomach aches, loneliness when Mesmer died and concern when Robert was occasionally away. You have been so brave, hanging in strong until last Monday when you didn’t want to eat or drink or walk. You let me know. We waited for Robert to drive home and went to the vet. You couldn’t fight through that one and I understand. I’m not mad at you. I wish I could make magic or miracles.

You are the miracle, beautiful and perfect always.

image of Desiree dog embedded in heart
Kuan Yin Contemplates Attachment detail of painting.