It has taken me a little while to be able to write this post. In December 2019, our golden doodle, Savannah, was diagnosed with lung cancer that had metastasized to her heart and spread throughout her body. Within two days of getting this diagnosis, she had such trouble breathing that we had to put her down.
Anyone who has loved a dog knows how hard it is to live without the excited tail wags when coming home from work, the wet tongue kisses and fuzzy ear rubs. It has been especially hard for me-Savannah was (as the cliche goes) my best friend. She followed me wherever I went, she sat down wherever I sat down and laid at my feet while I worked on my computer. I talked to her and told her everything-I told her my opinions about a book that I had read, how I felt about a challenging situation at work and how afraid I was to quit my job and embark on a new career at this time in my life. Even though her responses were few and far between and involved only some mild growls and occasional barks-I knew that she was listening – I knew that it helped me to believe that she was listening.
A week had passed, after her death, and I wanted a way to remember her -to make sure that her absence did not stop me from remembering who she was for me. I knew that she had come into our lives for a reason and that she had left our lives because she had fulfilled on that reason. I concluded that she represented kindness (she was very sweet tempered), cooperation and allowing (if you accidentally stepped on her tail, she would not cry or fuss-she would just brush it off and go on with her day), and pure unconditional love. I pondered on how these qualities affected me and made my life better and I concluded that I would be a better person if I embodied these characteristics too (kindness, allowing and unconditional love). This was the reason she was here.
On the day after she was put down, I prayed -I asked her to give me a sign to indicate that she was in heaven. Although it doesn’t seem extraordinary, I woke up and found a rubber band under the blanket where I had slept. This had not happened to me before so I took it as my sign. I then proceeded to ask google if there was any significance to a rubber band. This is what I found:
Ahh- she had been listening to me. She knew that I was feeling broken-completely lost without her soft body, warm black nose and calm eyes to comfort me through this year of change. She knew that I was scared I would not succeed and that I was facing a harsh inner demon that resurrected as soon as it learned I was upending my life and embarking on a long forgotten path of following a dream. Now, not only did I have to face the demons but I had to face them without her unconditional love to remind me that all would be okay.
Yes – I am broken- my heart is broken but she reminds that I am also transformed. That taking on a new life (in my case a new career and livelihood) is not for the faint hearted- you have to be brave, you have to stand up to nagging thoughts of opposition with an apocalyptic fury and get back up even when all you want to do is surrender and find relief. She tells me that I am strong even at my weakest point (especially at my weakest point) and that she is still and will always be with me.
In order to alleviate some sadness, to do something to remember her by and to start moving forward with this new chapter, I decided to take a walk every morning. Every morning I would wake up, bundle up (Colorado has had a lot of snow lately), and pretend that Savannah was right alongside – in her blue gingham collar and bedazzled name tag. You know what else? Every morning along my path I have found a rubber band! I pick them up and put them in my jacket pocket (I now have quite a stash). I am going to get a pretty container to hold them in and continue to walk and collect more.
Savannah- July 11, 2009-December 3, 2019