Nearly nine years ago, an
animal-loving nine year old
little girl was counting the days
until her longed-for wish would
finally come true.
And it did.
In early October 2004,
the puppy she dubbed
Gracie Marie flew home
with our family from
Ohio to Minnesota.
And just like Elizabeth's,
the rest of our hearts
grew, as the Grinch's,
three sizes that day.
We were smitten.
In a busy household of
four, Gracie quickly learned
that, although the days
weren't always predictable, one
thing was. From the beginning,
she always, always, slept
Puppies grow quickly and
soon become adult dogs,
romping alongside their kids
and their families.
Then one day, their kids
are all grown, too.
I held up beautifully when
we dropped Elizabeth at college
last week, my friends. I smiled
and stayed positive through
countless shopping trips.
I smiled and encouraged
her through dorm move-in
and parent orientation.
And, although my eyes glimmered
and stung with tears, I still smiled
when I gave her one last squeeze
before leaving her dorm room
to head for the airport.
You'd have been proud.
But when I got home, and
learned from our son that Gracie
had slept in Elizabeth's empty
room for two nights in a row,
the tears started coming.
And when I went into my girl's
room one afternoon to put away
some laundry and discovered
Gracie, nestled among the pillows
on the bed, they came even harder.
It doesn't seem fair that Gracie
isn't able to understand why
her little world has changed.
Nine years old, just as Elizabeth
was when she waited expectantly
for the day we brought her puppy
home, Gracie's muzzle is now white
where it used to be brown.
Life's button is on
when you are a dog.
Right now Gracie is taking turns
between our son's room and
our room at night. As she settled in
the crook of my arm last night and
sighed a small doggy sigh, I once
again felt an unbidden tear drift
slowly down my cheek.
But I'll be alright.
When I'd thought ahead to our new
normal just a few months ago, it was
me, my husband and our son that
I hadn't considered Gracie and the
fact that there'd be no explaining
why the girl she dearly loves has
I'm trying to make it up to her, with
extra cuddles, more walks and
her favorite treats.
But I'm a distant second to
her Elizabeth, and I know it.
Their reunion at Christmas is
going to be crazy sweet.
Until then, I'm going to smile,
I'm going to stay positive,
and I'm going to encourage.....
PS: Thank you for all the uplifting
comments, emails, thoughts and prayers
over the last year as I've anticipated this
separation from our daughter. Your
support has meant more than you'll ever
know and I'm so very grateful.