My life as I currently know it has never existed without our dog, Fiona.
When Russ and I were dating I would sit down beside him on the couch and she would wiggle her way in between us, as unsure of me as she was sure where Russ' affection lie.
Somewhere the slow trickle of time turned into a torrent: marriage, babies, moving, adoptions and the puppy that was his became the dog that was ours. Well, sort of. But time, as time will do, leaves nothing untouched. This week we had to put our precious Fiona down.
It was terrible.
It is terrible.
Our mornings our quiet and tearful because we all feel the absence, the hole of something we love missing. The kids spent her last day petting her, singing to her, and reading her books. And crying. Weeping. We all were. We are a house flooded with bitter water.
We found out about it just hours after finding out about the tragedy in Las Vegas. I had a strange cognitive dissonance.
The (admittedly very small) rational part of me thought we can't be this upset about a dog when there is real human suffering. When there are floods, earthquakes, fires, and violence beyond belief is it right for us to be broken over a pet?
But then my mom pulled out a memory. The day we brought Lily home from the hospital I was nervous about Fiona. How would this dog, the dog that wouldn't even let me sit next to her person on the couch, respond to this vast encroachment on her territory? I jumpy, as new moms are want to be, and I just wasn't sure I could deal.
Turns out all she needed was a sniff. She cocked her head and walked away, clearly not interested. Hours later I was in the bath aching and exhausted when Lily started crying. Fiona ran frantically back and forth between the bathroom and my bedroom trying to get my attention. She knew this baby needed love and she couldn't bear to wait another moment.
As my oldest girl wailed facedown in the carpet I reminded her of that story. A tender smile crept across her face. Consoled by the depth of love that her puppy had for her.
As I sat and watched my babies and husband say their good byes I realized how silly it was to think our love for Fiona meant we had less love for mankind.
Of course not.
That's not how love works.
Love multiplies, not divides.
She had taught us all how to love better, how to reach deeper for compassion and empathy, and she had shown us what it means to comfort unselfishly.
Yes, we ached for her. We ache for love, compassion, and kindness. It is good and right and true that we should. We can always welcome the stretching of presence of more love. The stretching will always ache. But this ache in our hearts? Grows our capacity to care.
In a world that is falling apart, maybe the memories of our sweet dog can remind us why the small things always matter.