Why goodbyes are always so hard

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Today I had to say goodbye to, not only an office mate but, a sweet soul and a dear friend.  Ellie May was an 11-year old Landseer.  Her breed is considered to be a black and white version of a Newfoundlander.  She had the disposition of a wallflower and the radar of an airplane.  It took three months for Ellie to warm up to me.  Until then, when that radar detected my presence in her force field, she would alter her course to avoid a collision.  She wanted nothing to do with me.  I didn’t take offence because she was like that with most people.  She was a gentle giant and a very private dog.

Ellie may

Months later, my tenacity seemed to wear her down and, after a long period of the silent treatment, she finally tolerated my presence.  She wouldn’t run the other way but she didn’t seem enthusiastic to see me.  After many months that, too, would change.

This may read like a eulogy, and perhaps in a way it is.   Perhaps it’s easier for me to write my emotion and deal with my loss in cyberspace than it is to confront the empty space in the office where Ellie would to lie and demand her treats.

Although she wasn’t my dog, she was my friend and it is never easy to say goodbye to a friend.  It will take me a while to not hear her footsteps running to the office door and see her silhouette through the glass, looking at me and barking to let her in.  I will miss seeing her “smile” as she and her flapping gums ran down the road to greet me after seeing my car pull into the parking lot.  And perhaps the thing I will miss he most is the whispered bark that she saved just for me and the small circle her lips would leave open for me to “put the cookie in the hole”.

She and I had a connection, a language that we spoke to each other.  And although she was unsure of me in the beginning, she quickly came to realize I spoke dog.  I got her and she got me and we really did become friends.  She left many footprints on my heart and that is why saying goodbye was so hard.

I can only hope that Ellie is now comfortably enjoying her new life beyond the Rainbow Bridge, that her body is as young and spry as her spirit and that she knows how much we will miss her.

 

A celebration of a life

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Yesterday was a beautiful day.  The sun was shining as a light breeze tickled the newly formed Spring leaves and collectively we gathered to share stories and memories of my mother.  The service was just as she would have wanted.  There were funny recollections, there were heart-warming memories and 18 butterflies took flight as we all remembered her kind spirit and loving heart.

The tablecloths were a lovely shade of pink, arrangements of brilliantly colored flowers were on each table and the atmosphere was anything but morose.  It truly was a celebration of life.

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My mom did not want a somber occasion to be the last tribute to her life.  She didn’t want those she knew crying because she was gone but, instead, she wanted people to remember all of the good moments they had with her when they were in her presence.  And that is exactly is what we did.

There was no rushed planning of funeral arrangements and hastily written eulogies.  We allowed ourselves time to grieve in our own way and spent two months putting a great deal of effort into a truly personal send-off, one my mom would have loved.  Sure, there were tears, but the majority of the time was spent sharing happy stories of a woman who genuinely affected people in such a positive way.  We were able to overcome the initial raw pain of loss and gave ourselves permission to really enjoy the memories and pay tribute to her in a way that she deserved.

Mere words can only scratch the surface of how many lives my mother touched with her smile, her generosity and her love.  She will be missed every day but her memory will live on in each of the smiles of those who take time to remember her.

Today, the loss is so much more real because now there is no distraction to take away from the reality that she is gone.  We must now hold dear to the multitude of moments she left an imprint on our hearts and use those moments to heal the scars created on our hearts when she left.