Monday, February 19, 2018

In Loving Memory of Mac

My most recent photos taken with Mac in early August.
'The easiest way to not feel this grief is to never have a dog. And what an empty life that would be.'
It was the fall of 2004- almost 14 years ago. It's so cliche, but I remember as if it were just yesterday. I was 14, perched at my usual spot, our family computer in the kitchen, chatting with friends on AIM (that's AOL instant messenger for those way too young to remember) talking about who was going with who to our first homecoming dance. My mom was cooking dinner as my dad and Callie walked through the door... with a dog.
As a family, we had never had a dog before Mac. Being 14 and just starting high school, I was 'too cool' to care about an 'animal'. But, sweet 10-year-old Callie was dying for a dog, so they came home with Mac, the cutest Australian Cattle Dog from the Washington Humane Society.

At first, I thought it was so crazy we had a 'wild animal' in our house. It took me a few days or a few weeks to warm up to the idea of living with an animal, but once I warmed up, I really warmed up.
Mac stole the hearts of everyone. He was SO full of life. I've shared this story on Summer Wind before, but for me, writing is therapeutic... and I really want to go down memory lane right now, so bear with me.

It was Mac's first Christmas at our house. We absolutely spoiled him with toys. He got so overwhelmed, he ran to our back door and looked like he was just dying to go outside. We let him outside, his toys in his mouth, and he raced towards the yard. All of the sudden, as we're all dressed in our Christmas pajamas looking out the window, we see him digging a hole by our swingset... something he'd never done before. He actually started burying his toys!

It was SO funny- We all laughed hysterically.. tears ran down our faces. The memory of it brings back so much warmth and really conveys how much fun Mac was. I will never forget that moment.

Mac brought so much joy and love into our lives. I hate for this post to be so full of cliches, but it is truly amazing to be able to love someone so much. I loved Mac as though he were my brother. And he was just that, my brother.

I went through high school with him. He comforted me when I had a broken heart. He watched me learn how to drive, he was there to support me in my excitement as I made cheerleading captain, he saw me off to prom. He kissed me goodbye as I left for James Madison University. He came to visit me in college and even came to my college graduation. Mac was sitting at my feet as I started Summer Wind. I was lucky enough to live with him for several more years as he saw me through various jobs, hardships, and wonderful moments.
"The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog...He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and the sores that come encounter with the roughness of the world. When all other friends desert, he remains." -George G Vest
Mac came on vacations with us. He celebrated all the holidays with us. He accompanied me to Starbucks. He loved our Bruster's dates. He lived for steak and watermelon. I truly believe he understood me when I would speak to him (which was often). He was so smart and so full of personality. As I moved out on my own, I missed him so much. I would go home just to check in with Mac... or go for a walk or a Bruster's date.

Mac was always there. 

He was such an integral part of my life for the past 14 years. This tribute to Mac, nor anything I ever say will ever be able to convey how much he has touched my life.

For those of you who don't have any pets, the personification may sound crazy. But, Mac was a true gentleman. He didn't bark much, he never snapped, he was always so well behaved, so polite, and so gentle with everyone.
Mac was getting old- he had been showing his age bit by bit over the last few years. But recently, he started to have seizures. I was in my parent's kitchen this summer and my parents were outside parking the car and I had just put food into Mac's bowl for dinner. All of the sudden, Mac fell over by his bowl. It was truly one of the scariest things. I started screaming for my parents because I had no idea what was happening. Eventually, he was back to 'normal'. But in the weeks following, as I visited him, I knew things were not going well. But he persisted and chugged along. The vet said he was not in any pain and could continue to live life.

Until recently. He didn't get up at all the entire day- couldn't get up. He didn't want his food. Nothing. He was still loving and 'with it', but I started to try to prepare myself (spoiler: nothing can prepare you). Not knowing what to expect, I would sit up at night and think about Mac and worry. Not that worrying was doing any good- but it hurt so much not to be able to cure him of his old age.

I've been very lucky in life to not know much loss... and those that I have lost, have died from old age and a life well-lived. I know now that they're all up in Heaven welcoming Mac with open arms and will keep him safe until we can meet again.

We aren't sure exactly, but we believe Mac was about 16. He lived such a long, full, wonderful life.

You know the saying, 'You don't know what you have until it's gone.'? It doesn't apply here. I never took Mac for granted. I always felt so lucky to have Mac in my life. I always knew he was something special. I will always remember him with the fondest, warmest memories and will love him always.

When my grandpa passed away 7 years ago, I came across this poem and knew to look for it again as the words comfort me. I'm sharing it in hopes one of you may read it and be able to connect with it, too.
"Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes, we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.

All is well."

I also wanted to send out a big thank you to all of you. So many of you sent me the sweetest e-mails, DM's, comments, texts, etc. Your thoughts, prayers, and kind words mean so much as I am feeling filled with loss. I am so grateful to have such wonderful friends, family, and each and every one of you who provide me so much comfort and support.

Hug your pups a little tighter tonight. I know I have been with Henry. They really are extraordinary, aren't they?


Annie said...

Full disclosure, I didn't read this whole post as I started crying and that is not a good look for the office...just know that I am sending you a hug as well as hugging my buddy, Marty McFly (a cat, sorry to all the dog lovers), extra tight today.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness Sydney, I was tearing up during the entire post but the lovely poem sent me over the edge. Mac was well loved and I truly believe we will see our beloved, faithful dogs again. Thank you for sharing your sweet memories. Sandy

Ryann said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. Dogs are family, and it's so hard when they have to leave. I've had to put one 4 year old puppy down due to long term kidney failure and it was so hard for me. But for me getting a dog right after helped. For others, it takes a long time. He looked like such a sweet dog. Praying for you and your family.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I completely understand what your going through. I lost my boxer, Buck of 12 years in June. I was leaving for
A cruise the day after. I didn’t want to go, I couldn’t bear having fun when the rest of my family was grieving. I went but I still miss him every single day. He was one of my best friends! Thinking and praying for you!

Gina said...

What a wonderful tribute. He seems to be smiling in the pictures. And, I’m sure he knew how much you all loved him. He was a lucky pup to be rescued by your family.

Kelly Jenkins said...

“No complicated relationship dynamics, no mixed emotions, nothing but the pure love of a dog is worth the heartbreak we choose by loving them back” I loved reading the amazing life Mac had with you & im so sorry for your loss ��

Kelly Jenkins said...

“No complicated relationship dynamics, no mixed emotions, nothing but the pure love of a dog is worth the heartbreak we choose by loving them back” I loved hearing the amazing life Mac had with you & im so sorry for your loss! 💕

Heather C. Watson said...

Oh, Sydney! I'm in tears reading this. Our Labrador, Max, is almost 11 and we nearly lost him last fall to a freak staph infection. He really is Bob and my best friend, and he just makes every day better. I'm so sorry for your loss. He sounds like an amazing friend to y'all.

Breakfast with Tiffany. said...

Sydney, I feel your pain and I’m crying with you. My 14 year old dog (actually named Sydney) died almost two years ago very suddenly. Nothing can prepare you for it, and the sadness is still there. I had to keep reminding myself she lived a long and full life, and it helps.


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