He came into our world four years ago. And when we couldn’t decide between him or his brother, he picked us—his unsteady but enthusiastic legs tumbling and stumbling toward our squealing kids.
The puppy belly, the puppy breath, the sharp puppy teeth…they slayed me. Like they always do. Like they still do. In fact, I feel weak when I think about that crazily picture-perfect Thanksgiving.
He was playful and joyful, and easily the most consistent and predictable member of our entire household. He wanted to fetch; he wanted his ears scratched. Every single day. And that is all.
He was gorgeous, so perfect a specimen that strangers often stopped in their tracks to admire him. He loved a ball like he loved oxygen…more than a bone, more than food, more than hugs. He could play for hours.
I nurtured him the only way you nurture an energetic dog: I tried to keep up. I threw a lot of balls. When we hit the park, he was my fourth child in tow. His manners were not impeccable, but extremely close. We spent countless weekend mornings at the nearby track, playing fetch as the kids ran or rode circles around us.
During a year when I’ve been seeking signs of grace in every breeze, every star, every song…his sudden and unexpected death feels like a particularly cruel Screw You. The void he left hurts like nothing I’ve ever experienced, and trust me when I say that grief and I are on familiar terms. I am looking at his photos often, willing my heart to remember not my pain, but his beauty and his light. He overflowed with it.
For those of you who are not dog lovers, or even pet lovers, you may not understand this and that’s ok. But I am someone who willingly gives her heart over to the creatures in my life. I believe in the power of a good pet like I believe in the power of a good long breath.
They are essential and healing. And when they are gone, it feels like you will never breathe easily again.
I am missing you, my Winston. Love you tons.