There are stories you never want to write. The ones that become irrevocably true once the ink leaves your pen.
This is one of those stories.
Max lived a good life. He walked every day until he couldn’t.
That’s how he told me it was time for him to go.
When Max came into my life I did not understand the magic he would sprinkle over every part of my existence. His devotion to me was unmatched. In his younger years, though already ten when he became our family member, he would wait at the base of the stairs as I ran up and down completing the endless daily tasks of motherhood. Once he felt certain of my location and pause in movement, with Herculean effort he’d heave his stout little body up the stairs to find me and keep watch. I don’t know what exactly he was watching for but it seemed important.
As the center of his universe I did not take this lightly. I gave him as much as he gave me. Until he couldn’t give anymore, and he was tired, and his old body said enough is enough.
From the outside, the story of Max and me seems simple.
Dog meets girl.
Dog devotes life to girl.
Best friends for life.
From the inside the story reaches deeper. Max came into my world with precise timing. I was dealing with the crushing loss of my mom, raising two rambunctious boys, and supporting Mad Dog’s corporate aspirations. I was barely holding myself together and in swooped Max. He did not care how my anxiety sometimes froze me in place. He didn’t mind how I looked, if I showered, and if my writing got published. He didn’t care if my boys were on the honor roll, if I took awesome vacations, or if my house was organized. He taught me that I am enough as is. On the days I didn’t believe him, it did not phase him.
He loved me anyway.
The love he gave me was so perfect and true it has me questioning everything. We are taught by the world we must earn love through striving, pushing ourselves, winning at everything, and looking a certain, standardized way. Even if we somehow achieve this ephemeral perfection, its temporary nature has us immediately turning our attention to the next outside-of-ourselves goal.
I don’t want to live like that. I want to choose goals that speak to my heart. The kind that inspire me and fulfill me as I move through them. I want to cultivate a fluid state of being and allow the process of becoming to light the way. I want passion and purpose to rise up from within and carry me through all the twists and turns of life.
Losing Max is a twist I knew was coming, but I wasn’t ready. We are never ready to lose something we love. It rips us apart at the seams and feels overwhelming and irreparable. And yet, underneath the surface of this gaping Ewok-shaped hole, the true-ness within me holds me steady.This is the part of me that Max loved the most.
This is where I will find my joy again.
Above all else, I want to make Max proud.
The best and only way to do this is remember each and every day no matter what, I already have.