by Lee Master
The loss of my 40 year old daughter shook foundations of my soul. Peace was not expected.
The last four years were especially challenging for my younger adult daughter. She had overcome a significant personal issue and battled many health issues. There were numerous close calls but she fought through each one trying to come out on top. She had moved in with me and struggled to get her health and her happiness back. The loss of her beloved dog, Hefner, due to old age had severely impacted her. She had rescued him from an abusive owner when he was a very young puppy and they became inseparable friends. He was a pit bull/Labrador cross, a rich rusty, red coat and bright yellow eyes that dimmed with each progressing year.
The loss of Hefner seemed to take Abbie's zeal for life away. She lost the light in her eyes and the fighting spirit that had pulled her through so many physical and emotional challenges. Life was lived day to day with little variation from one day to the next. I was not prepared to find her lying lifeless in her room following a fall during the night. I was taking her morning meds planning to wake her to talk about our upcoming Christmas decorating plans. Those plans brought some joy back into her eyes and I was elated to see the change. She left us much too soon in late October. That first Thanksgiving without both of my daughters in attendance was tough for all of us.
Abbie and I had been constant companions in the four years since she moved in with me. I took her to her appointments and she attended my own appointments with me. The visit to my specialist only a couple of days after her passing left me with a huge knot in my stomach. I had not gone to his office without her before. It was all I could do to walk through the door.
I gave the receptionist my name and turned to seek a seat while I waited. Only one was available and it was right beside me. The room was completely full of people waiting for their appointment times. I slumped into the chair and tried to maintain my composure. I looked up to see an elderly man sitting across from me with his service dog. A beautiful rust-red colored Labrador lying at his feet. I caught the cry trying to escape my throat, and sat back firmer in the chair. The dog looked so much like Hefner.
I closed my eyes. They opened when I felt a warm, soft muzzle pushing under my hand. The dog had risen and come across to me. Her owner was pulling back on the leash but she persisted in getting my attention. The tears began to well in my eyes. A lady a couple of seats down from the man said that she had been trying to get the dog to come to her the whole time she had been there and had been ignored.
I mumbled to the woman, "I think she knows how much I needed her right now." The man called to his dog, "Sadie, come back here. You are being rude!" I assured him that she was not bothering me and I appreciated her attention. He tugged half-heartedly but stopped as I cradled the dogs head and she laid down at my feet.
I had pleaded for a sign from Abbie on my way to the doctor that same morning. Something to tell me that she was with me and all was well with her. As I marveled at the kindness of Sadie and the likeness she had to our much-loved Hefner, the moment was capped. As the man was called back for his appointment and he and Sadie rose to go to their appointment, I heard a distinct, "Hi Abbie! How is your day going?" The reply, "GREAT!"
I turned my head and realized that the person who had come in was speaking to the receptionist. The one I had never known the name of. A sense of relief washed over me as if Abbie was right there sitting by me. I believe that she was. And I believe she still stays close by as I struggle to find more joy in each day forward knowing that she and Hefner are together in peace and love. We will all join her one day when our time comes.