Note: I wrote this on Nov.4th, 2016. A public goodbye to my very dear friend. The only obituary I have ever written (and the only one I hope I ever have to pen). I re-read it this morning. I miss him, still. Deeply. Each and every single day. But I know he is still with me. I absolutely do. And I take great comfort in finding those moments where he checks in, leaves me a sign, makes me laugh, or reminds me to giggle. I find joy in those moments where I feel his paw on my chest, and his wise and silly spirit in my soul. On my walk with Cosette this morning, without really looking, we found 3 big y-sticks (one of which was on the beach). After a stormy gray Saturday, today the brilliant and tenacious sun rose into a deep blue sky. The seas were quiet, the breeze brushed my hair back from my face, and I was soothed by the sound of the leaves shifting back and forth - like brushes on a drum - dancing about in their red and yellow coats. It was so much like the morning after he left us. He would have loved this day - everything about it. So we go on, we love one another, we laugh when we can and cry when we must, but - with persistence and optimism - we go on. We do our very best to stay present in the lovely moment that is now (the only one we really truly have), and we are grateful for and humbled by the grace that is allowing it to happen.
I hug Cosette on top of the picnic table she has bounced onto gleefully. I tell her how much I treasure her. And as she tilts her curly head and grins widely, as I as give her a cookie, and she hands me her paw, I do my best.
In his honor, I remember.
Back in April, when D's cancer returned for the third time, we were scared we were close to losing him. One cold early spring day, when the snow was still scattered on the ground, he and I were walking along the back side of the ocean when he, uncharacteristically, pulled me towards an empty concrete bench in a quiet area I'd never noticed being there before.
Following his lead, we made our way over.
And then, he did this.
With both paws centered, he looked down to the bench, then back up to me. I remember that moment as if it were yesterday. His gift. One of at least 8 million and then some that he gave us. I don't know how easily you can see what's written there, but the words say 'REMEMBER AND SMILE'.
Last night, our beloved D made it clear that, while he successfully beat the cancer 3 times, warrior that he is, when it marched into his poor old body for the fourth time, well...this time it was just too much. Some fights you just can't win, no matter how hard or long you fight. We thought we had a little bit more time. But last night, he asked, it was clear, and we promised him we'd always be there to give him whatever he needed...so with our hearts broken open and bleeding - we held him so very close, stroked his head, promised him the pain would end, told him what a good good boy he is and has ALWAYS been. And then we watched as they gave him back his wings and let him fly.
We are shattered. I mentioned to someone this morning that before today I thought I knew the meaning of that word. It's so much worse than what I had imagined.
Remember. And. Smile.
His words to us then. His words to us now. I just know that's what he's asking, and my god, I'm trying, though I am finding it really challenging to do right now as the sadness is so deep and crippling and raw... it feels as if it steals each breath as I simultaneously try to take it.
But I know, that's not what he is asking. Not then. Not now.
He lived in joy. In this moment. In the possible. In kindness and compassion. In wisdom and intuition. He was, is, and will always be all of those things and he would want us to remember him accordingly.
With unadulterated joy, the most glittering happiness, with ridiculous humor, and with the deepest, purest, most everlasting love. So so so much love. And, let's be honest, maybe a few noodles and some meatballs. Standards, you know...
He gave to us so much more than we could ever have hoped to give him back, though that never stopped us from trying. I know for sure that he made me such a braver, less awkward, more interesting and less terrified and anxious person. He generously taught me what it means to be a dog person, which felt right in a way I'd not even have dared imagine. With him nearby, it seemed like anything was possible. He made every day a precious one - cause he took them one by one, and reveled in the gifts each has to offer. He helped me save a dying crow trapped in a tree at sunrise. He introduced me to so many people, and to their, always moving, stories. After my own health scare, he sat his big curly butt down on my lap, dropped his paws on my shoulders and looked at me as if to say, 'See? I TOLD you everything was going to be okay.". How do you begin to say thank you for all of those things, given unconditionally and with such pure and abundant love?
Today, I pray he is safe. I pray he is surrounded by love. I pray his pain is gone and he can do all the things he always loved, without the fear of his body slowing him down. And most of all, I pray with my whole soul that he knows that he was loved. That he IS loved. To the moon, and back, and back again....over and over and over. And over.
Thank you all for being a part of D's life, for following along with the joys and sorrows and adventures that he gracefully, courageously, wisely and so humbly led us through. For reading about the million things he taught me. Thank you to those of you who brought him into our life in the first place. To the people in his life that he specifically chose to be his friends, especially to those who we know loved him as we do and always had a bag of meatballs and a special place on their couch saved just for him whenever he stopped by to visit.
And to those of you - some of whom I've never even met face to face - who shared with him and/or gave to him some of his most precious memories (those of you who watched him prance around the ring wagging his tail like a rock star in the Speciality a few years ago will remember how much that meant to all of us, but most especially to him....as on that day, he knew the love and admiration not only of his own adoring family but of his extended IWS family as well ... he finally saw himself in the same incredibly handsome and inspiring way that we saw him and that, to this day, brings me so much solace and so much boundless joy). We are so grateful to all of you.
The weight of the missing him feels like it's crushing my ribcage into my soul, and he's just barely soared away. But I know he's in the sky - and I will look every day for him there for the rest of my life.
When the sun rose this morning, it did so with a perfect Autumn glow - so many beautiful colors in the sky - and there was a gentle warm sea breeze - the kinds I know he loved so much. And I knew he was trying to remind us.
Remember. And. Smile.
So, I will. And I hope you will too. He is in every beautiful thing the world can offer.
Thank you for reading, sorry for the length.
Sir Donovan. Our Boo Bear. Our Wise and Soulful Prince.