“Although they couldn’t talk in my terms, they had a language of their own that was easy to understand. Sometimes I would see the answer in their eyes, and again it would be in the friendly wagging of their tails. Other times I could hear the answer in a low whine or feel it in the soft caress of a warm flicking tongue. In some way, they would always answer.” – Wilson Rawls, Where the Red Fern Grows
This week, our house is missing a familiar face, dear old Bear. If you’ve ever been to my house before, you’ve come across Bear. He was probably sprawled across the kitchen floor when you came to visit. Or maybe you met him when you went to put ice in your drink. You pressed your glass against the ice lever, and suddenly you heard scrambling behind you. Then, there he was, waiting, sitting, begging for you to share just a piece of ice with him. How we trained Bear on the cheapest treats in the world, ice cubes, I’ll never remember. Or maybe you’ve been to the lake and you’ve experience the creature that pushed the limits of “living to the fullest.” Bear was known for going to get a stick out of the woods and coming back with a tree. He would chase sticks into the lake endlessly throughout the day, and if you did not throw the stick for him. He would literally cry.
I absolutely loved my dog, but as I told my mom this week, his passing seems like so much more than just losing my dear old friend. Bear was the epitome of my childhood. We picked him from a litter when I was just a 3rd grader, and he shared my same birthday. Therefore, Bear’s growing up was the embodiment of my growing older as well. He stopped growing and I stopped growing. He was wild and rambunctious, and I was too. He matured, I matured. And as the last pages of my “kid-dom” are written, Bear’s chapter has ended too. His life ran right beside my growing years, and I’m so thankful I had him by my side.
I guess what I’m really trying to say is that in all the exciting wedding discussions, it is easy to forget there is a lot of normalcy coming to an end, and Bear reminded me of that. This is one of the most fun chapters of my life, but at the same time, there is some seriousness to it. My little yellow room full of music boxes will no longer be my where I “come home to,” holidays will be every other year and my daddy won’t come save me when something happens to my car…
But then again, I will have a new house and more family and David will come pick me up… It’s just a very obvious turning point.
I will never forget going back to a high school football game to watch my sister cheer. Unlike some people, I was really sad to leave high school. I loved my teachers, my friends and every minute of cheesy high school fun. Yearbooks, pep rallies, baseball games – you name it, I bet I was into it. But on that day, when I came home from Auburn to watch Annie cheer, I suddenly realized that chapter had ended just at the right time. I didn’t belong in high school anymore. I couldn’t believe it. I actually didn’t fit there. I was happy and sad and content in my place all at once. Now, Anne’s at Auburn, Mom and Dad are happy doing their own thing, and even Bear’s not here to keep me in Athens.
I have a new adventure to look forward to, but it would be a lie to say there wasn’t a little sadness to leaving the comfortable, norm behind. Bear Barron, thanks for your sheer joy for life. I will miss throwing sticks, being greeted at the door and cuddling.
No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does. -Christopher Morley
A dog has no use for fancy cars, big homes, or designer clothes. A water log stick will do just fine. A dog doesn’t care if your rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart and he’ll give you his. How many people can you say that about? How many people can make you feel rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel extraordinary? -Marley and Me