Being Grateful, Giving Thanks

It's Thanksgiving Day, and I have much to be grateful for.

I'm especially grateful that I had the love and companionship of Maia and Meadow for so many years. Saying goodbye to both girls this summer was the hardest thing I've ever done. I miss them terribly, daily, so I also thank them for the memories I have of our years together. Every time I pass one of their offering sites on a trail run, I whisper "I love you, I miss you, and I thank you." It helps. Enough time has gone by that I can say it without crying, tossing a happy "Bye, girls; I'll be back!" as I leave.

Three happy dogs enjoying marrow bones in Idaho, May 2013.
I'm so, so grateful for Finn, who helped me get through those difficult goodbyes with the girls - Maia in June, Meadow just six weeks later in July. Finn suffered loss along with me, both of us sad and subdued for months after. We're easing into our new normal, running together toward our future, eager to see what it brings.

I was reminded this morning how tenuous our happiness and sense of security can be. Finn and I went for a run in town in the cold morning fog, enjoying the lack of traffic and noise. I chose a route that took us past Seattle Veterinary Specialists, a 24/7 animal emergency and specialty care clinic where Maia was diagnosed with lymphoma last January and received chemo treatments. Those dark days flashed through my mind as we approached. The facility sits within a large business park, most of which was deserted, everyone having today off. Yet there were four cars parked in front of SVS. I felt sad for anyone with an animal there, dealing with the stress of a pet needing urgent medical care. I remember all too well how helpless one feels in those circumstances.

As Finn and I ran directly across the street from the clinic, its sliding doors opened and two staff members came out, pushing a gurney. An SUV was backed up near the entrance, it's rear gate open, waiting. I couldn't look; I didn't want to see a dog too sick or injured to make its own way into the ER being loaded onto that gurney. My heart went out to the dog and its family members, starting their Thanksgiving Day in such a horrible way.

As we kept running, I watched Finn's quick, strong body, the long silky fur on his ears flying in the breeze, his joy at leading the way on this and all of our runs together communicated in his confident stride. He'll be six soon, and as far as I know, he's healthy. I'm thankful for that, my gratitude driven home by the scene in front of SVS. 

This route I've chosen this morning is one I used to walk with the girls before Maia's aging joints could no longer tolerate the distance. It passes the office of my friend Mike, whom the girls adored. They loved visiting him there, and would try to convince me I was making a mistake if I asked them to walk by without stopping. I'm grateful to Mike for being so supportive as I struggled with Maia's cancer diagnosis, and later as I said goodbye first to Maia, then to Meadow. He is a true friend, the sort who's always there when I need him and who makes life's ups and downs better and easier. 

Finn follows Mike and Alice on Coal Creek Trail, Cougar Mountain, earlier this month.
I'm grateful for all the friends who are my "family of choice" - dog campers; trail running friends accumulated over the past twenty-five years; fellow dog nuts; neighbors in Washington and Idaho; my Facebook and Growing Up Boeing families; and that handful of people who came into my life for a variety of reasons decades ago and chose to stay for the long haul, even if we maintain our connection primarily through written words.

You all make me smile, offer your love and support, and cheer me on when I need it most. I can't say thank you enough.

Finn woofs his thanks, too. 

Happy Thanksgiving. Give your loved ones - human and animal - a big squeeze of a hug today and tell them you love them. And always take a moment to appreciate the stunning beauty of the world around us.

Rebecca WallickComment