Admittedly, we’d had better hikes. Mom sat by me in the snow and dad stood next to us as we watched a flock of birds fly in descending waves across the sky. I couldn’t tell them that, like the approaching solstice, my light was fading. All their extra love and care the last few days made me think, somehow they knew it too. I don’t know what it means to live forever. Mom tried explaining it to me one night as she dripped all over my face, reading from the tag on her tea. (She drinks a lot of tea.)
When you become part of the universe, the universe becomes part of you.
She said we are the universe so we’ll always be together. I licked my nose and burped. I don’t know if I really got what she was trying to say. I was just happy to be near her and dad. I was almost scared and just wanted them close.
They’ve been with me almost every day since my leg started hurting. It hurt so much, one day I went to sleep, woke up and it was gone! I had a big boo-boo but mom comforted me all night, feeding me, petting me and getting fresh bowls of water. Dad sewed me a special shirt to wear until my fur grew back. Soon, I was my old, handsome self again, happy and pain free!
My walks were shorter with one less leg but I still wrestled stuffed llamas, squeaked my Kong, charged up and down the stairs, begged for mom’s popcorn, did yoga, hopped on the couch for snuggles, maintained all the bed real estate whenever possible and let anyone who drove or walked by know that a fearsome beast was guarding our fort.
It was definitely the weirdest year we’ve had together. Usually in the summer mom books us into some fancy hotel with a giant bed and I get to run on the beach, sniff bougie lobbies, browse bookstores, eat seafood and have ice cream. Instead, we stayed home and dad got a few holes in his body too, so, not as fun but I did get 1000 more cuddles and had salmon every day. After losing my leg mom and dad decided every day should feel like a vacation. Why hadn’t we thought of that sooner?
Every time dad left the house, I worried he was gonna come home with more boo-boos. I thought he got them so I wouldn’t feel alone. I also wondered if maybe mom was some kind of wild savage but all my questions are answered now. Mom’s tea bag was right. It turns out, she’s not a wild savage and dad is actually sick. He was the one who taught me how to be brave so I know he’ll be ok no matter what happens. One time, I ran through a barbed wire fence and he gave me stitches. Neither one of us cried or flinched. We were made for each other. Mom softened us both up. She was our missing piece.
On our drive to Metolius in October, I still felt like sniffing things and, despite my mom’s concerned protests, I jumped right in the river. Oh, it felt so good! My endorphins kicked in from the icy mountain water and was better than whatever mystery medicines they stuffed in those cheese snacks for me. Nature’s always been my favorite medicine which is probably why they took me to the woods that last Sunday. But something was happening inside me that even the woods couldn’t cure.
I don’t wanna bum you out, especially since now I’m one with all the love in the expanding heavens, but those last few days hit us all like a ton of bricks. Think of your meanest school mate swinging a sack of rocks in a pillow case and hurling them at your guts. Mom and dad did everything they could to make sure I was comfortable and loved right up till we said goodbye. I even got my Christmas presents early; a creamy, Sherpa blanket with a paw print on it and a new stuffed bunny which I didn’t feel like playing with but it made a very cozy pillow.
I’m free now and wanted to share some of the infinite wisdom I’ve gained since becoming part of the universe, like my mom said I’ve always been. Hopefully, it helps you live every day like you’re on vacation, which is better than worrying about stuff none of us can control (like pandemics, elections and all the dumb things people say on tv). I’ve met the guy in charge. He’s not a he or a she. It’s hard to explain, but someday it’ll all make sense. I’m happy to tell you, everything works out beautifully in the end.
1. Work Less, Love More. Try to stay home everyday and spend most of it eating, playing and cuddling. If you have to go to some boring building to make money to buy duck and potato kibble, come home as fast as you possibly can and tackle each other with hugs and kisses immediately.
2. Don’t worry about how you look. Instead of spending hours brushing your hair or brushing my hair off you and all the furniture, just lick your hands and face or jump in a river. Oh, and maybe stop shaving. That way you won’t need clothes. My fur kept me pretty warm and I saved a lot of time for other things cause I never had to do laundry.
3. Don’t waste time staying mad. If someone gets upset with you, try pouting. (It helps if you have a really sweet face or look sincerely apologetic.) If you make a big mistake and maybe hurt someone’s feelings, try licking their face, wagging your tail and sharing your favorite toy with them.
4. Don’t steal toys or food that aren’t yours. Just ask nice. They’ll probably share.
5. Sleep in. My mom and dad looked tired a lot but I never looked a day over two my whole life. The secret? Naps. Put down that glowing box in your hands, curl up and dream with me.
6. Play! According to math I’ll never understand, I was old but until those last few days, I was never too old to play. Laugh, chuff, scrabble, hop, skip, fetch, roll over, run, peek-a-boo, have howling matches, sing or paw paint the floor with river mud.
7. Sit and Stay. I know you’re very busy and have all kinds of super important things to do, like paying rent and making sure dinner doesn’t burn down the kitchen, but sit and stay, be present with me for just a while longer.
8. Love a little extra. You’ll never regret one more kiss, cookie or cuddle. Before things got really bad, mom got a message in her belly that she should find the strength to haul me up on the bed for the night. Best night ever. Listen to those messages that tell you to find the strength to love a little extra everyday.
9. Live everyday to the fullest. Buy the good bed. Eat the fancy food. Wear that fetching bandana. Pretend you’re always on vacation. Appreciate what you have. Be amazed by what you see. Be sincere in every gesture and never take this wondrous life for granted.
10. Don’t be scared. Mom cried again today thinking about how brave I was right up to the end. I might’ve jumped in her lap whenever I heard the smoke detector battery beep but I faced death like a lion. I guess being loved and grateful helped. And now I know for sure, we have nothing to fear. All we are, all we’ve ever been, is Love.
See ya on the flip side,
In memory of my sweet baby boy who left this world for the next, Wednesday December 16th 2020. Mama’s not scared anymore. I just miss you. xo