By: Marie Force
Broken windows and empty hallways
A pale lit moon in a sky streaked with gray
Human kindness is overflowing
And I think it's gonna rain today...
Remember this song from the movie Beaches? They played it after Hilary died, and it's running through my head on this gloomy, rainy day as I prepare to say farewell to my beloved Consuela the Wonder Dog later today (Tuesday). Her time has come. The inevitable can no longer be postponed.
We've had her for almost 17 years. To give you some perspective on that, we've been together since before Bill Clinton was sworn in as President, before anyone had heard of Monica Lewinsky. We found each other when my niece, who will soon finish her junior year in high school, was an infant. The three of us became a family in our second month of marriage, and she has been the "other woman" ever since. I was a new Navy wife living in a foreign country, away from everything and everyone familiar. I'd been horribly homesick until she came along and made everything better just by being there. I have loved her for four years shy of half my life. The picture above was taken a week ago when we took her to the beach for the last time. To look at her there, you'd never know anything was wrong.
Here's another one our daughter took of me and my husband Dan, walking on the beach with our beloved friend for the last time. When I saw the photo when we got home, I was struck by our similar posture, how we seem to wear the weight of our impending loss in the curve of our shoulders.
Here's my favorite photo of Consuela and our other beloved friend, Roscoe, who died in 2006. The dynamic duo, in their prime.
When I think of Consuela, I'll remember our routines. After we put my son on the bus (otherwise known as the biscuit wagon to Consuela, who got morning and afternoon treats from the monitor for the last seven years), I'd say "Let's go to work, girl." At mid-day, I'd say, "Let's go to lunch." At 3:30 each day, I'd stand up to go meet the afternoon bus, and she'd dart up the stairs ahead of me, anxious to get her treat. She'd lay in the yard watching for the first flash of yellow to reach the top of the street. Then she would stand up and engage in an elaborate stretching ritual that never varied from one day to the next. We knew something was really wrong with her when she lost interest in the bus biscuits.
I'll miss running downstairs to do a quick errand and returning to find her waiting patiently for me at the top of the stairs, chin resting on paws, ears on full alert, that scrumptious little face waiting there just for me. I'll miss tripping over her outside the bathroom door, and I'll miss that little tuft of white hair on the top of her head, the sweetest kissing spot. I'll miss the velvety feel of her ears and the way she hated for us to touch her front paws. Last week, Dan wrote movingly of losing his favorite running buddy.
Our family and friends have been so supportive during this difficult time as they know what Consuela has meant to us since the beginning of our life as a married couple. Everything we are as a family started with the three of us, and it's hard to believe that we'll have to go the rest of the way without her. My dear friend Liz, our next-door neighbor in Spain, put it best: "It's the end of an era."
Of course at times like this, talk inevitably turns to someday getting another dog. We will. Maybe in the fall after we've had time to process the loss of Consuela. Our kids deserve the opportunity to rescue a needy dog from the pound and give it a loving home, the way we did for Consuela and Roscoe long before our kids were even born. I'm sure that Dan and I will come to love a new dog and to appreciate its unique personality. But there will never, ever be another Consuela. Rest in peace, old friend. You were greatly and truly loved.