Joey and I are grieving the passing of our sweet dog, Caesar. We called him Bear most of the time… he looked like a bear with his enormous head. We said goodbye to him early Monday morning at 12 1/2 years old. I haven’t posted any sweet goodbyes to him on social media and have barely talked to friends or family about it because I can’t find the words to do him justice and because people’s honest and heartfelt condolences sometimes just make me sadder.
But, I find I can get on here and write in this place where I’m used to expressing joy and enthusiasm. I have so much of those two feelings for Bear. Today, they’re just accompanied by pain and loss. And that’s ok. New things are warming my heart this week: the Mexican food and flowers dropped off by our friends. The cards, warmth, and sympathy from coworkers. The steadfast support of our parents and families. And all the sweet memories of Bear. I am so grateful for his 12 1/2 years here and am overwhelmed with gratitude that we got to spend them with him. He was so good to us.
I am grateful for every second of his life and in the moments before he left his body, I am grateful that he opened his eyes and saw us and made soft noises. I am grateful that the doctors made him so comfortable. And I am grateful for the compassion these times expose in us afterwards. Despite the sadness, I treasure the rawness. Looking over at Joey and seeing him so sad but he’s looking back at me to see if I’m ok.
I am grateful for the many happy memories that come rushing back from Bear’s puppyhood, ones that have long been buried in the cracks in our minds. Him sleeping on top of our heads because he felt weird about sleeping in the bed when he was little. Him hiding under the bed when he saw his first raccoon on the deck. His healthy body running alongside the truck on the beach. His sweetness, playfulness, and kindness will live on in our hearts forever. He will live on with us forever.
If you’re reading this thinking gosh, she’s acting like she lost a family member. You’re right. And if you’ve never had an animal that sparked these kinds of intense emotions when they passed, I hope you someday do. Their impact on our lives is priceless. Their lives and their deaths are meant to make us grow and teach us things about ourselves. What Bear has taught me at this moment is to not be afraid, to take life as it comes, with grace. And to love those around me unconditionally. If you’re reading this, thank you and I ❤ you.
Creating something is therapeutic, cooking is a release, and sharing a meal helps us heal. These old recipes I’m sharing today are the comfort foods we so desperately need at times like these.
comfort food to nourish our hearts
*Because Caesar got really sick on a Sunday, we had to take him to a 24-hour emergency vet in Virginia. The staff at Blue Pearl Animal Hospital in Chesapeake were the most caring, attentive, and helpful people we’ve ever dealt with. They treated Caesar with such care and love, we couldn’t have asked for a better team of people to help us during such a difficult time.