A Thousand Miles

February 2009

My little girl is gone.

I miss everything right now. The clickety-clack of your long black nails on the tile as you followed me through the house; your shiny black nose appearing out of nowhere to push the door open as Trevor and I got the kids ready for bed; the grunting sounds you made when you were rolling around on the floor, stretching or trying to reach that spot only human hands could satisfy; even the way you sat and stared at me if I forgot to give you a treat after coming back inside.

You’ve been a beloved, constant presence in my life, our house, and my heart for so long your absence has left me utterly bereft.

I took you for your last walk last night. It was our usual routine; as the kids were getting into bed you got excited and impatient, although it was only in your eyes old girl. Your movements were slow but determined and those vigilant, sharp eyes were always focused on me.

You spoke volumes with your beautiful chocolate eyes, Ebony. I truly believe that we shared some kind of telepathy because you always seemed to know what we were going to do before we did it.

Is it time? I can almost hear you ask. Can we walk now?

I can still see the pitch black sky dotted with stars, feel the bite from the cold February air, and hear the gentle brush as you walked next to me last night. So, so much slower than 14 years ago but you were still so vibrant. When we got back to the house I couldn’t go inside. I just sat on the cold driveway next to you, the cement too much reality and the moment too overwhelming.

I tried to capture and hold to that moment as best I could. But as wonderful as memory is, it cannot stifle the longing of here and now.

I think we walked a thousand miles together in your long lifetime, perhaps more. So many walks, so much time together. It was our favorite thing to do. We took walks on Long Meadow Road, on East 99th Avenue, on Autumn Creek Drive, in Marion, Ohio, through the snow at Stone Mountain Park, across the hills at Fontana Village, and on the Blue Ridge Parkway the day Trevor asked me to marry him.

You were always there and now you’re not, and my heart is broken.

Unconditional love has no limits through the eyes of a canine companion. Your love was never measured in portion but instead completely full, and I feel your loss through my whole being. But love doesn’t cease to exist; it merely changes form and moves into the sweet ache that fills our memory and our heart.

God brought me just the right dog 14 years ago. You were the perfect size – not too big, not too small. You were 55 pounds of muscular, alert energy, intelligent and friendly but loyal through and through. You were shiny black and athletic and so fast, my little sprinter. Trevor and I will never forget your obsession with the green ball and your hilarious frustration that you couldn’t bite that huge ball.

I always felt so safe when we went to the High School to run or kick the soccer ball around. You intimidated people! I loved that because it gave the gift of security to an independent young woman. (They didn’t need to know you were such a sweetheart who loved her back scratched best of all.)

I will take some of your ashes to Cypress Lake High School and leave part of you there. That was our special place. We logged in a lot of miles on the field and around that track. There was nothing cuter than your head perking sideways when I said, “high school.”

I write this because I want to say I love you and I will miss you desperately and think of you too many moments each day. You were a dog, yes, but you were truly my best friend for almost half my lifetime. I am heartbroken about losing you even as my life rushes on with these two busy little boys and our family. And Ebony I’m so thankful and still amazed at how well you did with the boys and how patient and gentle you were with them. You shared me so well and with such love.

One day I’ll be able to think about getting another dog. But I know it will take time and prayer, and a bit of healing. You will always be my heart, little girl.

Goodbye Ebenezer, my Tinky Boo Boo, my stinker. I already miss your cold wet nose so much my body physically aches. But I’ll always be yours and you’ll always be my little girl, and I know I’ll run sprints with you again.

2 thoughts on “A Thousand Miles

  1. This was lovely. You nailed the emotion I felt over losing my sweet little dog,Tiny. He was my friend for 16yrs.Thank you for sharing your heart.

    1. Thanks so much, Leslie. I wrote it the day after we lost her; writing is my way of expressing grief. 16 years is a good, long life, and it’s so sweet that he was in your arms. Thanks for your kind words.

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