Carmella B’Hahn, of Bowden House Community, near Totnes, has allowed us to share here her letter to friends about the death and funeral of her significant companion-animal.
I feel compelled to write about a happening here that has touched me to the core. Many visitors to Bowden House will have encountered an iridescent display of blue beauty and a shimmering show of an intricate, many-eyed tail as you passed by our beloved peacock on your visits. Peaky, our ‘Lord of the Manor’ flew in, of his own volition, to join us in June 2009, just after we completed the leases that said that no one was to ‘own’ a peacock. No one owned him and he chose to stay. We found his body on January 3rd (with a bite mark on his neck) lying in the orchard as if he had lain down to sleep. And so the actual cause of death will remain a mystery.
My wolf-like howls that echoed across the estate probably spoke for the hearts of many of us. We gave him a full burial ceremony to be proud of, with songs and memories and farewell strokings, followed by a ‘Peaky Wake’ at my house, where a challenging peacock jigsaw was completed so that we were left with a whole peacock image in the middle of the floor.
I have had some of the most profound moments of my life with our ‘Peaky’. We used to eye-gaze by my Buddha in the awning when I lived in a caravan, and then for the last two years at my new house he joined me when I was writing. He would sit opposite me, peering through the glass doors of my deck for hours on end, and I felt his magical influence. But the most astounding memory I have is of the first time I completed the aforementioned jigsaw. Immediately afterwards, I went to pick a couple of apples and was gone for about four minutes. Peaky was nowhere in sight. When I returned, I found him in my lounge standing on the jigsaw. How? God knows!
Each of us has our own memories and stories and will integrate his death in different ways. What I am left with is a desire to imbue the qualities that were displayed before us so often. I want to expand my vision to see with many eyes and to express iridescent beauty in a shameless display of confidence that uplifts spirits. Well, I always have aimed high!
Carmella’s longstanding interest in the transitions that include death were reinforced after her firstborn son drowned at the age of five. She describes his living and dying in her book, Benjaya’s Gifts.