“The dog is the most faithful of animals and would be much esteemed were it not so common.
Our Lord God has made his greatest gift the commonest.”
“I’m coming over Grandma,” I said. “I’ll be there soon to take some photos.”
“I’m having a photoshoot?” she asked.
“Yeah, you and Harley.”
When I arrived she was still in her pajamas. I said no one would care. Mostly, I was grateful there was still time.
Two weeks ago my 80-year-old grandmother cradled her cream-colored poodle Harley in her lap. He has been her constant companion for 11 years. Since the month my grandfather, her husband of half a century passed. I am not a dog person, but I am a people person. And if someone loves their pets, I do too. We love the things those dearest to us do. And this dog is everything to her.
He was unusually quiet and nuzzled her chin. His breathing, labored. Ten days earlier she learned his emaciated frame was riddled with cancer and his passing was imminent.
The news was hard. Surreal.
Hard for all of us, as we watched this amazing woman who lives alone grieve for what would come too soon. The loss of her beloved pet, her companion and friend.
She is most afraid of the quiet in her home. Of the silence that will pierce the air and make being alone, lonely.
There has been so much loss in her long life. Heartbreak too.
When you are 80, you’ve let go of most of the things that don’t matter in life. And the things you cling to — well they are love and life. They are sacred. And important.
She left a message asking me to call today. She needed to talk. And that is unusual. She is guarded and confident and not often vulnerable.
But today my cousin had come to her, to do what she could not. To have Harley laid to rest, and then brought home to be buried.
She is burying part of her heart in that tiny grave today and it is difficult to watch her endure it. It is almost impossible.
But I am grateful for God and grace and time that heals, because in times like this, that is all there is. It is the only thing and it is everything.
My grandmother Jan is not online much. And she will probably never read this. But if you’d like to leave a kind word for her, I will print them out and pass them on. She likes letters. Those kind of things are still important to her.