The Gift

I got Lexie when I was a 20-year-old naïve college student, in a slightly defiant act towards my mom. I went to the local shelter where I met a quiet, older foxhound that desperately wanted in my lap.

“I have no doubt she will be an excellent dog,” the shelter guy said. “Which is why I haven’t had the heart to put her down.”

And with those magic words, “Daisy” became my Lexie.

We had a rocky start to our life together with accidents in the house, growling, destroyed homework, trash eating and escaping the fence. It was clear that I had no idea what I was doing and Lexie had no idea what was going on. But one thing was for certain – we needed each other.

Through the years, I nurtured her and kept her in the best health I was able. Lexie became my hiking buddy, my (reluctant) road trip pal, my mozy walker, my camping sidekick, the poster dog for “a lazy porch hound,” my rock, and the love of my life. And in return, Lexie nurtured me – never judging, helping me grow and keeping me company through countless heartaches.

Twelve years later, I was right by her side to the end.

After Lexie’s passing, I was given the advice to replace the sad memories of the last few weeks, with good ones. So I think of her everyday.

I think of her sunbathing on the porch at the lake.
I think of her running down the beach at Ocean Isle.
I think of her doing “yoga” pose all over the living room when she was playing.
I think of her orange ball she’d push around in hopes of that one last little treat.
I think of her running down hiking trails, hopping over fallen trees & rocks.
I think of her tail wagging as she greeted the people we visited for therapy sessions.
I think of her snuggling up to me after a long day.
I think of her excitement when I’d pick up her leash.
I think of the way she’d peak her head through the tent while camping.
I think of her picky food habits.
I think of her in her hoodie.

Despite the infinite happy memories, I can’t help but think that perhaps the best way to remember Lexie is not in her stories, but in her lessons.

Even though Lexie took a piece of my heart with her, I am constantly reminded of the gift she left me – the lesson that all I need to do in life is love. It’s so simple, but yet so easy to forget.

There are also two statements that continue to bring me comfort.
I was once told by a friend that animals remove themselves from your life when it’s time to move on. And an article I once read said when your dog dies, you are not only saying goodbye to your best friend, but you are also saying goodbye to the person you used to be. Lexie left knowing she had accomplished her task. And now I know that I am not only saying goodbye to an old me and life, but also hello to a better me and future.

I have not had many successes in my life, certainly not any of the ones I thought. Nonetheless, I know I contributed to Lexie’s success. And no matter what successes the future holds for me, I know that Lexie and mine’s love is honestly the only one that matters.

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Until we meet again…

 

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