On December 10, 2008, I lost my sweet Sophia to malignant histiocytosis, the bane of the breed for Bernese Mountain Dogs. She was weeks shy of her 8th birthday. This was written for her and for the Border Collie, Bandit, who came before her.
If the vet and I are right, the day Bandit died of hemangiosarcoma was the day Sophia was born.
It seems like only yesterday that I was entrusted with your care.
You had no reason to trust me, and plenty of reasons not to, but you decided that you would be the one who went home with me.
It seems like only yesterday that we struggled for trust and cooperation. I still hadn’t learned all that you had to teach me, although you tried every way you could to get my attention. I finally learned how to listen, and the change in our relationship was remarkable. We found a companionship and connection that few beings ever know.
It seems like yesterday that I added a few more to the household. It took a little while for you to realize that they weren’t leaving again at the end of the day. But you came to love them, tolerate them and teach them, as you had taught me. And somehow, no matter how many there were out in the yard or wandering in the house, it was your face that I searched for, your silky fur that let me know I was home.
It seems like yesterday that I watched as more white and grey crept into your fur, as you walked more slowly and carefully when your already challenged body started to show signs of wear, though your grin was still there and I could see you thinking of what mischief you could make to ensure laughter and joy.
It seems like yesterday that our world fell apart. Knowing that time was short didn’t seem to make it any easier to squeeze every ounce of joy, companionship, activity, camaraderie, and quiet repose into every cherished moment. Heroic measures would have meant more pain as much as they might have bought more time, and I couldn’t do that to you.
It seems like yesterday that you looked into my eyes and told me it was time. I knew what I had to do, and I made you that promise. And so I let you go, holding you through that final release, that last gift I could give to you
It seems just hours ago that I brought your ashes home, that your buddies and I tried to console one another recalling some of your wilder antics. My tears fell like rain into their fur, they seemed to understand. They, too, feel your absence, but are more at peace with it than I can ever be.
In time, I know, you will somehow lead me to another little girl in need. And she will be everything I could hope for. We may have to struggle a bit for trust and cooperation, but you taught me well. She will grow up into a wonderful companion. She will take what you taught me, and help me move forward without ever, ever losing sight of yesterday.
Tonight I will weep as I sometimes do when you loss feels most fresh.
Then I will remember that you’re not really gone, just waiting. Waiting until I’m ready. Which I can’t be as long as any of the others are depending on me. Tomorrow I will pull myself together and move ahead, listening, building trust, finding joy.
Just like we did yesterday.