I’m really not sure where to go with this.
Truth be told this very topic was one which first struck me last week, yet I found a way (fortunately) to spin it into a piece about my mother’s birthday. Last week’s column title “Seasons and Sunsets” struck me first. That rarely happens.
Typically speaking my words just pass through my fingers and onto the page, then I’m challenged with the title. Last week, “Seasons and Sunsets” found me as I reflected on my parents losing yet another good friend, as the sun was setting.
I just really didn’t want to write about death, there’s enough bad news, right? So why bring the pages down if I could find something else … which I did.
But alas life is funny not funny and this week, yep … I gotta go there.
As my heart continued to ache for my parents and the children of their friends, I forged forward. That lasted a day. Literally, the day after the piece was penned, the topic of death found me again.
We’ve all had to walk the path of love, loss and untimely death in some shape or form. This death, however, was for the love of something that not everyone is so fortunate to experience in a lifetime.
Last Tuesday, after a guesstimated 16 years on this planet, sweet Bella Nicole (Kendig) crossed the rainbow bridge. My eyes puddle just typing this and Bella was not my dog.
Bella had, however, become our office pet, as her health began to turn and her mom (Michelle) would bring her into work with her a few days a week.
I’ve shared before my love for our office space, by way of the family friendliness. Both my children had their diapers changed (multiple times) in this building. We all happen to also be pet lovers, as well as owners, so when Bella’s age began catching up with her, we were all equally in on sharing space with her on occasion.
Well, if being completely transparent the usage of the words “shared space” is almost laughable. Bella barely left her momma’s side, ever. I don’t recall hearing her bark but maybe a handful of times at her home. She was content to just lay, sleep and walk a bit when mom prompted it was time.
Mellow as she may have seemed, she was also a fighter.
I still recall a bit of time back, Michelle returning from the vet noting that because of her age there was little that could be done for Bella. But … it wasn’t yet her time.
So just as she would for her children Michelle found all the “things” to make Bella not just comfortable but also hip. During the course of her later years, Bella had a growth on her back which was unsightly. Not to worry, mom (aka Michelle) found the perfect shirt for her to wear and hide her growth. When it was removed, fashion was once again on her side as she strutted the streets of our downtown area.
As we each saw the end growing nearer, secretly I think we hung on to hope that she could fight a bit longer, but she was tired.
So as the appointment was set for last Wednesday to remove Bella from her pain, we (the office family) began planning our days so we could be there for Michelle (and Bella). As I shared with our Editor that I had worked ahead so I could be at the vet, she chimed she too had done the same.
“I think we’ll just need to shut the office, because most of us are going to be there,” she shared.
But Bella had her own plans. Tuesday night, as I called to check on my friend, I learned Bella had closed her sweet eyes for one final time.
As friends do, a group of us gathered at Bella’s home that night. Circled around a table we began searching photos and telling Bella stories. This progressed to more friends, a few drinks and lots of tear-filled laughs.
Jointly our hearts ached for the void we knew our friend (and her family) would now feel, yet collectively we felt fortunate. Oh how lucky to know the unconditional love of a dog.
I also knew the next day and entering the office – void of Bella – would also not be easy. Fortunately we had the night before and a tribe of well-wishers to maintain the void.
As Michelle and I talked Wednesday morning the truest of words were spoken as I reflected, “We should all be so lucky as to have an impromptu memorial as love filled and full of laughter as Bella’s.”
And it was true.
So now we move forward sans Bella, just as we have our beloved pets which have come before her. A piece of our hearts now etched with her love forever. A memory bank which stores the good, bad and comical of what they bring to our lives.
We are in fact the lucky ones. “Blessed” as a friend recently corrected me when I used the word “fortunate.”
Oh the love of a dog. They ask for so little, yet give us so much. They accept us when our pants get tight, forgive us when life stress makes us snarky and kiss us just when we think “man, adulting is hard.” In short, they are often the true heroes of our world.
So here’s to a heroine who made the most of her life, as well as ours. Sweet Bella girl, you were loved by many and will forever more be missed and cherished. Rest easy sweet girl.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.