…is the day Max was born, about 16 years ago. I’ve written about Max before very briefly here. He was my first four-legged sibling. I had just about graduated high school when he passed away and it took my mind about three months to understand what that means and how it was going to change my daily life. Today, I know how it has changed my life, in a broader sense.
Over the last couple of months, Sophie has reminded me, in spite of all that cuteness, how important it is to grow up with a friend. Not a human friend, obviously (although those are important in a completely different way as well). Anyway, over the last couple of months-
I would wake up in the morning, feeling like total shit, followed by rushing to the bathroom which was followed by a lot of gagging and squirming and all kinds of things awful along those lines. Followed by feeling completely zapped of all energy and life *the irony!) from those last five or ten minutes. Followed by the production of a river flowing down my eyes and a whole factory of self pity.
In complete contrast, Sophie is a morning doggy. She is a 150 percent morning girl. Mornings?! YES! Another day to live life. Waking up? YES! Life is so amazing! (or at least that’s what I can imagine runs through her mind) literally jumping around waiting for one of us to wake up and start the day. This excitement continues till she has had her breakfast and is taken out. Normally, she would wait for me to finish in the bathroom, still excited and still jumping around. As soon as I am out, she would continue to jump on me till I cuddled and gave her breakfast.
But as I came out sobbing and completely exhausted on those mornings, she somehow knew. She didn’t jump anymore or seem to be high on caffeine, no. She was completely calm. She would silently walk and climb to lay next to me as I made my way to the living room and collapsed on the couch. This would make me sob even more (I wish I could explain why), and I would hug her and she would let me. We sat like that for the next 15 minutes till I felt ready to start my day.
It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but this unspoken understanding with this species of non-human makes me appreciate that I had this kind of company growing up. I want that for das Baby (because “das” is the neutral noun gender) as well. I couldn’t be more glad that das Baby will have a chance to grow up with Sophie. And just knowing that, makes me a little less terrified and a little less afraid that I might do something wrong as a mother.
What started with Max is now a way of life – it taught me empathy and compassion, it taught me that love is boundless and intangible, it taught me about loyalty and friendship, about having each others’ backs. Max and Spike taught me about loss, about grief and pain, about how to handle it and about what to hold on to and what to let go of. All this from friends who don’t “talk” and still end up teaching so much…these are the experiences that are priceless.