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Be Grateful while You Can

The Love for a Boo Bear

This is the year my baby girl would have turned 15. Given the way I raised her, I fully expected her to live into her late teens. Regardless of how long I was lucky enough to have her in my world, it would never have been long enough. Anyone who owns a pet can attest to that.

When I looked at my girl lying in the grass, sprinting up a hill, or swimming in her favorite watering hole, immeasurable warmth would overtake me. For whatever reason, the year before she passed, I was filled with urgency to express my gratitude for what she had brought to my life, in many little ways. Even though she may not have known what I was saying, I would still tell her how much I loved her and what she meant to me, as if she did. I would visit her on her daybed every night, kiss her on the head and tell her she meant the world to me. I would then wish her; love, health, happiness and longevity.

Whenever I was in town, she would accompany me to my office and sit in the big bay window right in front of my desk. I can’t tell you the number of times she startled me and made me literally jump out of my chair. Whenever someone walked by the window, or when she’d see the local cat that loved to torment her, or for any other reason that made sense to her quirky self, she’d start to bark.

I’d be lying if I said a shrill bark reverberating off the glass didn’t bother me (WTF). More times than I care to admit, I was on a radio interview, or on a conference call, only to realize there was nothing I could do until the person walked out of range, or the cat finally got bored and left. As much as I loved that 17-pound ball of fur, those were the times I didn’t like her very much.

Well, a touch over two-tears ago, it happened again! I remember it like it was yesterday. I was working away in my office, and sure enough she started to bark because something got her attention. My reaction however, was altogether different this time. I just stopped what I was doing and watched her until she calmed down.

It was as if I didn’t want her to stop barking, as it made me realize how alive she was. Instead of getting angry with her, I just smiled and told her in a gentle voice that it was ok, and then I said; I LOVE YOU. And then I cried, uncontrollably and harder than I could ever remember, for what seemed a long, long time. The last time I cried like that was over 20 years ago when my mother passed away. I honestly thought I’d forgotten how to cry, but I didn’t.

You see, the day before this happened, I found out my little girl had cancer and it seemed to have spread almost overnight. I was hiking with her a couple of weeks before I left for a 7-day speaking tour, and when I returned home she was different. The light was missing from that little body.

Gone was the 10 minute routine when I walked through the door, the one that always made me feel like I was her entire world. Instead, I was met with a bit of a whimper and a slight wag of her tail, which seemed to take all the effort in the world to raise. There was sadness behind those beautiful brown eyes, and she just stared at me as if to say; Daddy, there’s something wrong, why do I feel this way.

So you see, even in the things that trigger you or make you angry, you can find love if you look deep enough. After that day, I couldn’t wait to hear her bark, and every time it happens I would smile and fill my heart with gratitude for having her in my world for as long as she was willing to stick around. My baby girl died exactly 1 month later.

Find the gratitude in your heart to let whomever or whatever in your live know what they truly mean to you, even if you don’t think they’re listening.

“The trouble is, you think you have time.”
Jack Kornfield, Buddha’s Little Instruction Book

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