While walking my dog Libby last week, she and I passed a mother, her two school aged kids, and a White Lab walking on the trail behind our house. My first thought was, “I wonder why those kids aren’t in school?” I quickly dismissed it, figuring that maybe the kids were home schooled.
As they drew closer, any thoughts I previously had were immediately replaced by the look of sadness on all three faces. Along with the sadness, however, there was also an undertone of lightness I could detect. It was intriguing. Somber, all of them, yet with a slight hint of happiness.
I can’t say I noticed much more than that – - their expressions were all I was able to take in at the time; they were so complex. Oh, and there was this low rumbling noise. What was that?
As Libby and I got to the end of our path, we turned around and headed back toward home. A few minutes later, I could see the family approaching, they had doubled back, too.
I focused my attention on the dog this time. She was an old girl. I could tell by the way she walked, labored and uneasy, rocking side to side. Although her gait was slow, she was panting hard. I know the correct term is ‘thermoregulation,’ when dogs pant like that, but it simply looks like they’re smiling to me. So, as I passed the family this second time, I said to the mother, “Now, that just makes you want to smile right back,” as I nodded to her sweet, old girl.
The mother paused, looked at me with tears in her eyes, and whispered, “Thank you.” A moment later and a bit louder, she said, “It’s her last day.”
The ‘Thank you’ came out as more of an exhale; as if she just realized she’d been holding her breath.
Within the mother’s pauses, I believe she was taking a moment to find her voice. Her strength.
As the foursome walked by, I noticed something that hadn’t fully registered before. The low rumbling noise I had heard earlier was coming from a red wagon that the daughter was pulling. It was empty inside, except for a yellow, turquoise, and ivory colored quilt.
They were prepared to carry their girl home if the need arose.
Days later, my thoughts still remain with this family. Not home schooled, these children were given permission to miss a day of school to spend it with a family member who was soon to depart. They were taking their girl on a much loved activity: walking with her beloved family. They were honoring this beautiful White Lab, and at the same time, creating a lasting memory of what’s important in life.
What is important in life? What’s important in your life?
Loving. Trusting. Remembering that every day is a blessing. That every living being is a blessing. These are important to me.
Watching this family practice what was important to them, although I was only able to get a glimpse of it, was deeply moving. It served as a reminder to place our focus on Honoring Life.
Karen, although this isn’t your exact story, I know you and your husband are going through a lot right now with Trivette. I dedicate this post to you and your family. In Honor of Life. Love, Leslie