Maia in the lupine at Grass Lakes, Payette Forest, Idaho, 2007.
A year ago today I said goodbye to Maia.
This evening, walking in the forest with Finn along a path Maia often tread with me, I thanked her. With tears welling and a smile on my face, I remembered all the ways she enriched my life, made it better. I spoke them aloud. Finn, puzzled, stopped to listen.
I thanked Maia for opening my heart to unconditional love; for showing me how adding dogs to our lives enriched them even more; for being my eyes and ears in the forest, pointing out to me such an abundance and variety of wildlife - deer, elk, moose, fox, coyote, bear, turkey, marmot, pica, birds too numerous to list, and most wonderfully, wolf; for giving me the courage to wander the forests without another human, just me and her and Meadow (and eventually Finn); for inspiring me to start Maian Meadows Dog Camp, which has been a blessing on so many levels, creating a family that envelops me in warmth and humor in good times and bad, even now after she's gone; and perhaps most importantly, for showing me how to grow old with grace and dignity, without complaint, grateful for every day and every experience.
Since returning to Idaho in May, Finn and I have been visiting the places where I made offerings of Maia's and Meadow's ashes. It makes me indescribably happy to see the cairns I built last summer still standing, and in one case, added to by others. Every time I visit these places - in Idaho and in Washington - where the girls and I spent so much time together, I say the same thing I said when I made the offering:
I love you. I miss you. I thank you.