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Moving forward into the life you create in the wake of loss

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You Left Today

I was involved in animal care and rescue for close to two decades. The epitome of those years was the time spent operating a senior, special needs, end of life sanctuary called A Chance for Bliss. The sanctuary was home to as many as 100 animals at a time — 25 horses, 23 dogs, nine potbelly pigs along with ducks, geese, goats and sheep. While the sanctuary no longer operates, I’m committed to keeping the memory of its residents alive by sharing their stories in my talks on mental illness and mental health and eventually in a book. Hope, a gorgeous Boston Terrier and the only non-rescued animal at the sanctuary, went missing (and was believed to be stolen) on June 8, 2008. Harmony, a 100% deaf Boston Terrier, came to us at eight weeks, given up because of her lack of hearing. Harmony passed away in my arms on April 9, 2016 at the age of 15 1/2. While I loved all the animals that came to the sanctuary, Hope and Harmony remain in a more sacred category.

You left today and went to that place I do not yet know.

You took with you the sunshine and my smile.

Life seems gray without you, heaven that much further away.

For more than 15 years, you have been my best friend and always partner. Where I was, there you were, too, both my light and my shadow.

You were born a deaf puppy, but you listened to me in ways few ever will. We communicated without sound and instead spoke to one another with our hearts.

You loved me with an uninhibited devotion, absent conditions, and I will miss everything about you.

I will miss the excitement I felt every time I pulled up to the house; the mere thought of reconnecting with you causing my soul to smile.

I will miss watching you sleep after I came inside, and how in just a moment or so, your head would suddenly pop up when the scent of me awakened you from a deep slumber.

I will miss the way you then would run forward, diving headfirst into my chest, trying with all your might to climb into my skin, nibbling at my clothes as you burrowed in closer.

I will miss the way you would follow me no matter where I went, and once there position your body to protect me from harm.

I will miss the way you refused to eat the same meal on back to back days; instead, insisting that a wide variety of food be served, not just put in front of you.

I will miss the way you would rush to find me, then turn and dash towards the kitchen where your cookie jar was, spinning back around just to make sure I was close behind. The message was clear: “Poppa, it’s time for a treat!”

I will miss your crazy obsession with hoses and sprinklers, and your selfless commitment to rid the world of their evil conspiracy.

I will miss the high pitched shrill of your voice, your bark like you just don’t care manner of living and the confidence and pride that oozed from every pore of your being.

I will miss hearing the jingle of the tags on your collar. The sound told me where you were when I couldn’t see you; my heart then relieved knowing you were safe and close at hand.

Harmony, a black and white Boston terrier, sitting facing the camera and looking to her left

I will miss the way you would paw at me, asking me to pick you up and carry you down and then back up the stairs when your heart grew weary and forgot what it was supposed to do.

It was in those precious moments I could hold you close, your soft fur upon my skin, your face next to mine and whisper in your ear how much I loved and completely adored you, knowing you could feel my words.

I will miss the gentle sound of your breathing when you laid your head in that space just below my chin; me and you, best friends, connected at the heart, rising and falling together as we matched breaths and held on tight to one another.

I will miss your quirky, unique and wonderful ways of being, the sight of your beautiful face, the way the black and white of your coat blended perfectly and the smell of your fur after you lay in the sun.

I will miss covering you up with one of my worn t-shirts, kissing you goodbye and always letting you know when I would be back.

I will miss the way you would comfort me when my depression had me by the throat, nuzzling me to remember who I was when my illness had me forget.

I am certain you have already been welcomed at the Rainbow Bridge. I know the multitude of animals that came to live and then pass with dignity at the sanctuary are lined up to give thanks for the way you befriended and loved them.

You have earned a special place of honor amongst the many there, and there is most certainly a flock at your feet which are gathered to hear your many stories.

Life is less without you, and the silence hurts. I fear my days may always be cloudy, the sun never to fully shine again.

But I promise you, my sweet angel girl, that I will forever hold you in the very center of who I am, and I will never let you go.

One day, we will be together again, side by side, fur to skin, heart to heart, never to be separated again.

I love you, Harmony.

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