A great loss, a great gift

Last week, the Universe gave me a profound gift.

One of my mantras lately for dealing with uncertainty is a phrase that came to me months ago while I was sitting on my patio, with only the sound of the wind and the distant hush of traffic in the air. “I am and will forever be well taken care of. I already have everything I need.”

This is something I believe to be true, perhaps out of necessity. If I believe any different – that I am not well taken care of and that I don’t have what I need – then I come from a place of lack. And that’s not how I want to approach life. Anyways, this mantra works for me. It comforts me.

Last week, I learned how true it really is. I am well taken care of. (And might I be so bold to say, you are, too!)

It all happened way too quickly. But, I suppose it always feels that way when a furry friend family member dies. We have such a short time on the earth with dogs. My sweet American Eskimo, at the age of twelve, passed away less than 48 hours after exposure to something toxic she found along the river in the woods. Not until the next day did Aspen start showing signs of sickness, and after a short visit to the vet to get her blood work done, x-rays taken, fluids refreshed and anti-nausea medicine administered, she was sent back home with me. I sat beside her for the rest of the evening, cuddled her and told her everything was going to be okay — even though I was completely puzzled by what could take so much energy out of such a strong dog. She fell asleep in her bed, at the foot of mine, and when I got up to check on her at 5AM she had already passed. I still can’t believe it. The loss is devastating.

When I posted the news about Aspen to friends online, the response was incredible. Over 120 comments dominated my Facebook wall from old co-workers who gladly shared their cubicle space with her, previous roommates who loved her, friends who felt like they knew her simply by following all the videos and photos I’ve posted over the years. The phone calls, emails, and letters that then followed continue to warm my heart. For every person who sent a ‘virtual hug,’ I leaned into it. A friend offered to jump on the next flight to Portland to see me. My mom actually did jump on a plane the very next day, and spent the rest of the week helping me mourn the loss. Sounds like a lot of fuss over one little dog, but she was so much more than that to me and those who got to know her.

Reminds of the Shakespeare quote, “Though she be but little, she is fierce.”

Since her passing, I’m hit hardest with tears in the morning. A few mornings ago, my mom grabbed my hand and cried with me. We talked about how loved and cared for Aspen was, and I realized how much that fact alone calms me down. I’m glad I talked to Aspen like a human, when other people thought it odd and felt the need to remind me “she’s a dog.” I’m glad I told her I loved her on a daily basis. I’m glad I brought her along for so many outdoor adventures. A couple friends and I just finalized plans to take her on her first overnight camping trip next month. We are still going to go, in her honor.

I’m thankful that I never had to see Aspen grow senile and sickly. Up until her last breath, she was still herself. Forever young. And Aspen showed me how strong and loving and maternal I am. Those are respectable qualities that I really like about myself, and all qualities that I wasn’t sure I possessed before I rescued her.

The profound gift that the Universe gave me last week is the very real and empathetic feeling of being embraced by hundreds of people at once. There was such an outpouring of love from all directions, which not only shows me how many lives one (silly, sassy, fluffy, funny, loving) dog touched, but how many people are truly here for me when times are unbearably tough. I cried in front of and over the phone so many people this past week, and was only made to feel loved and supported in the process.

What’s more beautiful than that?

With courage, love, and intensity,



5 thoughts on “A great loss, a great gift

  1. Pingback: Going on 30 | Courage Love Intensity

  2. I can only imagine how difficult it had to be to write this post. I absolutely loved seeing your pictures with Aspen and I’m happy for the time you got to spent with her (and to share her with us). I’m sending you the biggest hug, Kristen. Over time, the shadow of sadness will become a blanket of warm memories. Stay strong. ❤

  3. It still makes me so sad to think about this, K, but I’m so glad you’ve been getting so much love from people. I always tell Matt that our pup is probably treated better than 64% of kids out there in the world, and I know you were that way with your little Aspen too. I just gave Mo a lil kiss on the nose because of this post 🙂

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