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Life Without My Best Friend

I’ve been meaning to post something since my most recent trip home in late May. My first dog, Lou, was diagnosed with cancer in the lymph nodes back in November. We did everything we could, including spending a great deal of money on chemo treatments. And by some miracle, he survived and beat cancer. But we knew it would only buy us time before the inevitable. Of course, if he had been in pain or suffering we would have let him go. Apart from the cancer, he was a vivacious and loving pet. At 13 years old, he was as much a family member to us as our other relatives. I was so grateful for that extra time with him. Being away at school, I couldn’t come home often and I was heartbroken to hear about his disease when I couldn’t assure I’d see him again.

IMG_1781 In April, we received the news that his cancer was back. I planned a trip home for May and hoped for the best. Again, I was given an amazing chance to see my dog for a full week. While I was home, we almost put him down. We all said our goodbyes, tearfully drove to the vet, and gave Lou one last pet before entering the building. Once more, he proved to be stronger than anyone had hoped or thought. In a somewhat comical exchange, he stared each of us down in turn while the vet remarked that he was doing fine and as long as he seemed happy — he still had some time. It was embarrassing to leave the vet afterwards, Lou still wagging his tail and strutting about, but a wonderful gift for us all. IMG_4989 Only 2 to 3 days after I returned to Chicago, my current “home”, I received the news that my parents decided to put him down. His pain was clear at that point. Obviously I was upset, I mourn the loss of my best friend daily. I hope that we gave him the best possible life and that he never felt alone or unwanted. I love this 15 inch beagle more than I can explain. But having already accepted the loss when we went to the vet that day, I’m oddly at peace. The closure of that trip home resonates with me now. I am so incredibly grateful for whatever power kept him happy and alive so that I could have the opportunity to accept what was to come. I’m learning more and more about the fragility of our loved ones each day.

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In dealing with this recent loss and juggling a busy schedule — I’ve realized I’m only going through the motions of each day and not truly living them. It’s depressing to see how out of touch we are with our own happiness. Which is why, when I found an old DVD from high school of a musical production I was in, I popped it into the DVD player to reminisce. I watched myself up there, in miniature on the screen, wishing more than anything I could be that person now. But I know I wasn’t happy then, not really. What was moving to me, though, was to see how I was doing something that made me happy. Even if I wasn’t happy at that point in my life, I was striving for happiness by performing and singing. I miss that.

I know that the circumstances don’t allow for that now. My life is going in a different direction. But why shouldn’t I carry some of that with me?

Today I picked up my ukulele for the first time in months. After tuning it up, I found a song I wanted to learn, and dedicated an hour and a half to learning the chords and words. I didn’t warm up, I didn’t put on makeup or brush my hair. I didn’t really care about perfection. I uploaded my final take to Youtube, which I will embed below.

This isn’t the best cover. It’s not even my best work, I’m sure of it. But I can look at this and say I’m proud of myself and I feel capable and worthy. I know that by making that video I was doing something that brought me joy. Even if just for a few minutes, I felt content.

Here’s to enjoying life, pursuing happiness, and reveling in contentment.

Danielle

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