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Love fiercely….. because this all ends.


A baby picture of Cena, the beloved chocolate lab, symbolizing the enduring lessons of love and life.
Cena in her younger days: A reminder to love fiercely and cherish every moment.

I have those words written on my desktop as a reminder so that each and everyday I will remember my human frailty. That I will die. That I will cease to exist in this skin suit. That I will one day no longer have the capacity to have a loving impact during my earth time.


I am starkly reminded of this truth once again as yesterday I had to put my 13 year old chocolate lab, Cena, down. She woke up having multiple seizures and an inability to walk- she could barely function- watching her was torture and hearing her wail and moan in the midst of the seizures was heart-wrenching. It was as if her soul was fighting with everything in her to stop the enemy of death that was knocking at her door - ultimately she would allow the enemy in and paradoxically be set free from her agony.


Love fiercely…. Because this all ends.


Her aging was hard- she couldn’t walk, see or hear. She couldn’t go up and down steps any longer due to her severe arthritis. She couldn’t get in and out of the car without being carried. She pooped and peed in the house, on the pavement, or wherever she was without thought. She slept incessantly most days. She had a hideous eye growth that was frankly hard to look at. She could barely finish her walk around the block without me pulling her leash to drag her back home. And she smelled like the back end of a buffalo’s butt. I fondly called her “ the stinky girl.”


Yet, I loved her. She made me crazy and angry and frustrated as she aged- I really didn’t want to take care of her as I had taken care of my dying debilitated husband for 12 years. Quite frankly, I resented her demise and my responsibility towards her caretaking. I was supposed to finally be free to pursue my own life’s purpose and dreams. And there she was…. An old ailing incapacitated dog who required me to care and tend to all her needs. So innocent and vulnerable- but never demanding or manipulating- just present in her own suffering and to the suffering of all around her.


Love fiercely…. Because this all ends.


If anything describes Cena it was that she was present and held the suffering of our family for 13 long years. We got her when my husband was just beginning down a journey with a debilitating illness that finally took his life in 2020. My youngest son was going through his high school years alone as his 3 older siblings were all away at college or moving into adulthood outside of our home. I felt like a dog would be a great companion for him to hang with. A year later we brought her half sister home- another chocolate lab named Millie. They were attached at the hip and never apart for a moment in their partnered existence. Millie adored Cena- she protected her- spooned her- played with her- ate with her- walked with her- cleaned up after her :(( and attended to her older sister like a little nervous nellie.


My son adored that dog- its as if there souls were meshed together in some intricate life force outside the realm of this universe. Those sad eyes, the longing in their souls for more, the quiet introspective observances of watching life go by and feeling its pain and suffering. They were made out of the same divine DNA- just deposited in different species.


Love fiercely…. Because this all ends.


As my husband’s disease progressed- Cena and Millie were never away from him. They were a constant presence- sitting at his feet- holding and watching his world fall apart- staying present with him to all that was unfolding each day. My co-worker put it so succinctly…


“She was an amazing presence. In the times I met her I really felt the love she brought. The loss of pets is just so excruciating. It’s a sign of the super deep love, I suppose, and how they witness so unconditionally these chapters of our lives. I really am thinking of you.”


Love fiercely…. Because this all ends.


She witnessed so silently with unconditional acceptance and love all the glory and tragedies of our lives in those 13 years. She saw the birth of each of my 6 grandsons as they came into our world and brought us unspeakable joy. She witnessed the leaving of another grandson who left this world before he took his first breath and brought us unspeakable sadness. Witnessing and present.


She accompanied my youngest son grow up through his high school years and watched him figure life out in all of its challenges and confusion. She sat with us years later in the family room as we invited that same son into living in sobriety and a fuller life than the one he had been living. Witnessing and present.


She accompanied us every year to our place at the beach which she loved- all the family gatherings, the laughter and frivolity, the place where our souls got to play. This was the place where she got thrown into the pool as a puppy by my “playful” son and never went near the water again even though she was a water bred dog. Stubborn willfulness was her best friend and she never forgot . This is the place where she tore her ACL trying to keep up with her sister running wildly on the beach and had to be carried home 3 blocks. The place where she ate one too many socks and would eventually birth them in a matter of days. Where she would eventually take her last breath in a cold unknown vets office as she said goodbye to her family on FaceTime. Witnessing and present.


Love fiercely…. Because this all ends.


She watched and waited for death to approach as my husbands long illness would eventually usher him out of his body suit and into eternity. She never left his side- would sit at his feet- put her head on his bed and look at him with those sad eyes that knew the depths of the pain he felt. He was never alone with Cena at his side- Witnessing and present.


She stood by me as a widow- in a cold dark silent house in the isolated months of COVID after my husband died. She transitioned with me as I moved into my new life and new house to figure out how to live life on my own. She traveled with me- sat with me- and stayed with me so I would know that there was some other life force in the house - a breathing living reminder that I was not alone. Witnessing and present.


I can’t explain all the grieving that is welling up inside of me from those 13 years as I say goodbye to my sweet Cena girl. She was a faithful living witness to all that embraced our lives- a constant companion who accompanied us on the road without ever really asking for much. A nice walk, some fun treats, a playful toy, an ear clean out here and there. Not much at all. Just a beautiful reminder of a greater witnessing presence that loved us unconditionally as we lived our simple yet complicated lives.


Love fiercely…. Because this all ends.



About the author:


Portrait of Bev, a Registered Nurse and Certified Enneagram Teacher
Bev: Merging the worlds of healthcare and the Enneagram for holistic personal growth.

Bev, a dedicated Registered Nurse and Certified Health Coach, dives deep into the realm of personality dynamics as a Riso-Hudson Certified Enneagram Teacher, accredited by the Enneagram Institute. Beyond her clinical and coaching expertise, she is a professional member of the International Enneagram Association. With a passion for holistic wellness and understanding the human psyche, Bev combines her diverse skills to offer a unique perspective on health, self-awareness, and personal growth.


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Freda Marie Brown
Freda Marie Brown
11. Sept. 2023

Dearest Bev, What a wonderful remembrance. Her continued loving witness and presence reminds me of one of my ideas about the ONE Holy Mystery.

Love you.

FM

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