Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Farewell to My Best Friend

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.

26 comments:

  1. Marie

    It is so hard to loose your best friend I have been in this situation before and I am thinking of you.
    I have 3 dogs and they are really my best friends one of them was my Mums dog and when we lost Mum Tootsie came to live with me and she is now 14 years old a miniture fox terrier and where I go she goes.
    My love to you and your family
    Helen

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  2. Hugs, Marie, on your loss. I've lost so many dogs and cats over the years due to old age, that I'm not sure I ever want to go through the heartache again. They're precious, every bit as much part of the family.

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  3. Oh, Marie, I so feel for you, especially when you have to make that difficult decision. I had to do it for my sweet Noel, the kitty-love of my life, and it hurt so bad. Even though it has been eight years I still think about him all the time. But he was in pain, and he was seventeen.

    This blog is such a touching tribute though. Consuela is running through clover fields and down sandy beaches after yellow buses and doggie treats now.

    (((Hugs)))

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  4. Thanks, ladies. I know many of us have been through this. Thanks for letting me share my loss with you. Today is a very sad and lonely day around here.

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  5. Having lost Chewie last fall, I certainly understand how you feel, Marie. I still miss him, just as you will miss Consuela for a good long while.
    Hang in there. It gets better eventually.

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  6. Hugs to you, Marie.
    She sounds like a wonderful companion and I know you'll miss her.
    We lost our 9 yr old cat last week and it was really tough. I'm right there with you.
    They are family and losing family is NEVER easy.
    More hugs...
    Beth C

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  7. Marie~

    You've got me crying again, girlfriend. I'm so sorry for your loss. It's hard to lose a combination of a dear friend and baby. My heart hurts for you.

    Hugs...Robin

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  8. Marie

    ((hugs))

    My heart is breaking for you

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  9. Thanks for all the kind words, and Robin, thanks for calling to check on me. The doorbell just rang and I swore I heard Consuela's tags jangling as she got up to see who was there. Sigh...

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  10. *hugs* It's so hard. I've said goodbye to many, including one last fall. I always say I'll never get another and then I see a dog or cat staring with needy eyes and I can't say no. I always have two dogs and a cat at any given time, each unique, each loved dearly. Mourn her, because you have lost a dear member of your family. And then know that your heart is big enough for another.

    Peace.

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  11. This is the sweetest, saddest tribute, Marie. I'm so sorry you lost your baby. But she'll be there waiting for you, many years on. I'm thinking of you.

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  12. Oh Marie! I am crying here! I can't imagine how hard it must have been for you to write that blog. But hopefully it was somewhat therapeutic.

    Consuela was a beautiful dog and naturally she will never be forgotten by those who loved her. Thank you, so very much, for sharing this time with us. And for sharing your special friend. Even though I can hardly see through the haze of tears, I feel blessed to know her, even this tiny bit. You and your family are in my prayers. Sharon

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  13. Aw, shucks, Sharon, now you made me cry, too! Sorry to bring down the party around here today, but it was therapeutic to write about my darling pal. I appreciate you all indulging me.

    And thank you Silver and Kendra. I like the idea that she will be waiting for me in the next life. I really hope she and Roscoe are having one hell of a reunion today. They were great friends.

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  14. BIG HUG!!!!!
    I'm bawling my eyes out.
    Just find comfort in the fact you were loved unconditionally and had the 17 best years of your life. And you have some of the best memories. Hopefully your family will find another friend to fill the hole left in your hearts.

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  15. I am so sorry. Still missing my sweet Meg, and crying for you.

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  16. Oh Marie! My tears are flowing with you my friend. Big Bear Huggs and Kisses to you sweatpea.
    Terra

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  17. Thanks Donna, Sheila and Terra. The cyber hugs really help.

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  18. My condolences on your loss. Animals are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole.

    I love your tribute, it brought a tear to my eye.

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  19. Mari,
    You said it so perfectly: Animals are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole.

    Consuela was a person to me. Simple as that. Thanks for your kind words.

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  20. You know her spirit hasn't left your house. She's there hanging around.

    Many hugs,

    Linda

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  21. (hugs) Marie. It's never easy and it does leave a hole in your heart. I swore we wouldn't get any more after Docker died. We ended up getting two. No, it's not the same, but then, it's not supposed to be. Just as we're all individuals, so are our dogs. And you'll love them just as much. But cherish the memories.

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  22. I'm blubbering along with the rest of you! I feel like I knew Consuela just by the fun things Marie has shared about her.

    Mari, I LOVED your comment about them making your life whole. That is definitely the case with my girls. After I lost my 16 yr old Schipperke Chloe (and I called in sick to work for 3 days because I couldn't stop crying), I thought I would try "fostering" dogs looking for permanent adoptive homes. That's how I ended up with my 2, I was a total flop at being a foster mom because I just couldn't give them up. :-)

    While it is true that no other will take Consuela's place (just like my 2 could not take Chloe's) you won't be sorry when you are ready to take in another.

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  23. Thanks, Linda, Judi, Cindy, and everyone else for attending my pity party today. As soon as I can manage to get off the sofa and actually take a deep breath without bawling my head off, I'll rejoin the land of the living and that will someday include another dog or two. I was a miserable foster, mother, too, Cindy--that's how we got Roscoe. Of course we were totally played by someone who wanted us to have him, but as she put it when confronted about her trickery--I know dogs and I know people and that's all we're ever going to say about it. Turns out she was right.

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  24. PS--And in my utter failure to master even the most basic math, I realized I erred in saying we got Consuela before Bill Clinton's second term. It was just before he was sworn in the first time. DUH!

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  25. Marie, I couldn't read your blog post. I'm sorry, it was too difficult. After reading the title and seeing the picture of your best friend, I couldn't go further. I lost my best friend a few weeks ago to a tumor on her spine. She was a brindled Great Dane and the best friend anyone could ask for, so I fully understand your loss.

    Hugs,

    Renee

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  26. Renee,
    I'm so sorry for your loss, too. It's a raw wound for a long time. Take care.
    Marie

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