Today’s raw and emotional post is shared by Linley, mama of @rescue_dog_luna. After you read her story, leave a comment and head over to her account to share your love for them!
Up until January 12, 2017, I had never lost a loved one. Sure, I had been to funerals for distant relatives I had met once or twice. But, as far as feeling the pain of losing someone you love, I was clueless, until one of my best friends passed away in a tragic accident while she was on a family vacation in Mexico.
Abbey Connor, my sweetest, sassiest, most beautiful friend and fellow UW-Whitewater student, taken away far too soon. Abbey and I had developed a friendship in high school that was incredibly special to me. I was a basketball player and she was a volleyball player, so naturally, we had different friend groups. Not cliques, but for those that have played sports you know that between practices and games, you spend majority of your time with your teammates. Abbey and I had photography and gym class together and we formed a bond almost instantly. I loved spending time with her because she was a friend that I had outside of my teammates. I loved my basketball girls, but it was so refreshing to spend time with Abbey. She didn’t care that I played a different sport, she included me in parties with people I didn’t know and got me outside of my comfort zone. She was a social butterfly and it was effortless to be with her and make so many new friends. We were lucky enough to choose the same college and had the best lunch and dinner dates. She was someone I went to with everything and could count on her honest and raw opinions. She was so genuine, which I have realized, is hard to find.
Getting the news that she was gone rocked me to the core. I had just celebrated New Year’s Eve with her a few short weeks ago, and now I was never going to see her again. How is that possible? Why would this happen to her? I had absolutely no idea how to handle this. Going from losing no one to losing one of my best friends so suddenly was something I was not prepared to deal with, but is anyone? I cried and cried and cried and listened to people tell me it was going to be okay and that everything happens for a reason, but those words didn’t mean anything. Of course, I appreciated the support of my friends and family, but nothing made the pain in my chest go away when I thought of Abbey. I hurt so much for her family, if I felt this horrible, I couldn’t imagine how her family felt. The only thing that I found comfort in was the one thing that couldn’t tell me they were sorry and that it was going to be okay, Luna.
I struggled with a lot of things in the months that followed Abbey’s passing. I really had no idea how to cope. I struggled with my faith, I struggled talking about it, I wanted someone to blame, I wanted answers as to why it had to be her. Nothing was making me feel better about it. Except, my pointer/pitbull mix, Luna. There is no doubt in my mind that Luna knew I was hurting. I am convinced that dogs have a sixth sense and are much more aware of our emotions than we give them credit. Luna would just lay with me while I cried and her presence alone eased that pain. My crazy and energetic dog would just sit and let me pet her for as long as I needed to.
Not even a month later, February 11th, our family dog, Will, passed away after a long battle with cancer. For fellow dog lovers, you know how hard it is to let your furry companions go. We had Will since he was a puppy, so he grew up with my siblings and me. He was my four-legged brother and letting him go ripped my healing heart wide open again. Once again, the only thing that brought a smile to everyone’s face in the days, weeks, and months to come was Luna. She would grab her squeaker toy and run up to everyone shaking and squeaking it just begging for someone to play tug with her. She would light up the room and bring a smile, even if only for a second, to our faces. She was helping us cope and she didn’t realize it.
Two months later, on April 13th, my grandma passed away. I couldn’t believe that I had to deal with another death. I was still grieving Abbey and Will’s passing and now I had another death to try and cope with. My grandma lived in Florida for half of the year, so while we weren’t the closest, she was my grandma, my dad’s mother, and of course, I loved her. I hurt for my dad as he had to say goodbye to his mom. I hurt for all of my cousins, aunts, and uncles. I hurt for my mom and my siblings and I. It was such an overwhelming and stressful time and once again the one thing that got me through each day was Luna. No matter how hard of a day it was, each night when I crawled into bed, Luna would lay right next to me, her head on my chest and just be there. She didn’t ask me how I was doing or tell me that it’ll get better. She just was there. I cannot put into words what that feeling is like.
John Grogan, author of Marley and Me, (if you haven’t seen the movie or read the book, add it to your list) wrote one of my favorite quotes. He said, “A dog doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart, and he will give you his.” This quote is undeniably accurate and I saw this proof in the months to come after I lost all of these loved ones. Luna didn’t care if I didn’t have time to take her for a long walk, or I didn’t want to get out of bed, or I didn’t have the energy to play fetch with her that day, she was there for me and comforted me every moment. She knew I loved her, and that was enough. The most comforting part of all of this is that Luna didn’t even know she was doing it.
Dogs have a lot to teach us and I realized this after the hardest couple of months of my life. Luna, a dog dumped in the streets and undoubtedly mistreated by humans, trusted me to take care of her and has overcome so many obstacles and fears. She let go of what happened to her and pushed forward. Sure, there are certain things she’s still nervous around, but we find a way to work through it. There are days when I think of Abbey or get to hug her in one of my dreams and I wake up with that ache in my chest, but I get out of bed and take on the day because Abbey doesn’t get to do that anymore. Whether I’m gone for 5 minutes or 5 days, Luna acts like it’s the greatest day in the world when I come home. People need to do this more…and no you don’t have to jump all over your loved ones and lick them.
My point is that tomorrow is not promised, for you or anyone. Don’t take your loved ones for granted. No one thinks something tragic will happen to them but in a split second you, or someone you love, can be gone. I thank God my last night with Abbey ended in a hug and a “see you soon.” And now I thank God for blessing me with a dog that helped me through the toughest time. All Luna wants is love, food, and a warm place to sleep. And even if she didn’t have all of those things, I bet she’d still love me unconditionally. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we don’t deserve dogs.