Our heart learns how to do it throughout our lives, we say goodbye to friends, jobs, homes, and places we love. But if we’re lucky, we only have to say sob out loud goodbyes a handful of times.
Today was one of mine. This afternoon I put to rest my sweet, hyper, eleven year-old golden retriever Ellie.
When we were 23, my best friend from home and I bought a house together. The morning after our housewarming party, another friend brought 3 golden retriever puppies to cure our hangovers. 10 minutes later I had a new love of my life.
Her puppy breath and little sharp teeth won me over after her sisters fell asleep. I knew immediately that she was smart. She needed a sophisticated name, so I named her Eleanor Charlotte and we called her Ellie.
She was destructive and hilarious and loud and perfect. She made my life full of joy and frustration and so much love.
Ellie was the first to show me what it is to be a mother–to put someone else’s needs ahead of my wants. She taught me what it feels like to be unconditionally loved by someone besides my mother.
When I moved to Chicago, she was in the car seated next to me staring up at the huge buildings for the first time. And when I left my ex, she slept beside me on the tiny couch that was the only piece of furniture I owned.
She was there as I started GiveForward, met my husband, and welcomed my two boys home. She was the first face I saw every day coming home from work and the last face peering out the window to say goodbye each morning as I left.
Ellie, when I found out that cancer would be the reason I had to say goodbye, I knew it would be hard. But thank you for showing me for the first time how to celebrate life until the very last minute. I will miss you, more than I can write.