Carolyn J. Rose
Like many women of my generation, I grew up on stories about girls like Cinderella, handsome princes riding to the rescue, and the myth of happily ever after. I recall mooning around the house speculating about my true love—a fairly nebulous guy whose physical characteristics changed yearly. At the core he was kind and generous, smart and witty, and willing to fight dragons and walk through fire and do whatever it took to be with me. (Because, you know, it was all about me, and he would be consumed by his love for ME.)
I recall asking my mother if she believed there was only one “right” person for each of us, one “real, true love.” Further, I grilled her about the difficulties of finding that person. What if he lived in India or Nepal or the very center of Africa? What if we never met? Worse, what if he had already lived—and died?
My mother was a practical woman with a job, three kids to care for, meals to cook, laundry to do, a house to clean, and homework to supervise. She probably found my romantic notions ridiculous. As a matter of fact, it seems she presented me with the already-died theory.
As I grew older and more realistic and had loves of various degrees and durations, I shelved the dream of consuming, perfect love. But then, at the age of 53, I met the one who would love me without conditions, who would abandon all others to run to my side, who would be patient, sweet, and joyful.
Her name was Bubba.She was ten pounds of silky gray hair, tiny black eyes, crisscrossed teeth, and strong spirit.
For fifteen years she was always glad to see me when I came home from work, from the supermarket, or even from a two-minute trip out to fill the bird feeder. She often danced with joy—or with the hope of getting a dog cookie. She cuddled, she snuggled, and she herded me out for walks. She inspired me to create Cheese Puff in my Subbing Isn't For Sissies books.
And then, along with me, she grew old. There were more bad days than good, more anxiety, and more loss of physical control. Finally, Mike and I made one of the hardest decisions of our lives—we sent her on ahead to wherever and whatever.
As we watched her spirit depart, our pain was fierce and raw. We sobbed, unashamed and inconsolable. When the pain abated, it left scars—bright and cold and empty places in our hearts.
We lost more than a dog.
We lost more than a companion.
We lost pure, true love.