A lot can happen in one year. In twelve years, entire worlds can change. Twelve years ago, we lived in a log house in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, on our tiny little farm. We had chickens, Nubian goats, a huge vegetable garden, a beautiful chicken coop that matched our beautiful barn. We had dogs and cats, too. Abby was two, Alex was seven, and Kendall was ten.
Now we live in the 14th largest city in the US, Kendall is married, grown, and living on his own far, far away. Our lives have moved a million miles away from that quiet little farm in North Carolina. I can’t even begin to count all the changes and losses our family has experienced in the past twelve years. And I don’t want to.
My best friend, Lisa, also had a small farm, with Nubians, and ever the better goat farmer, she got an adorable little puff of fur, a Great Pyrenees, otherwise known as Koko, to look after her goats. Koko grew into a huge, sauntering beast, almost the size of the goats she tended, and she always seemed to be smiling. I often threatened to paint her purple and call her ‘Barney’, because she just had that goofy, happy look on her face all the time!
Lisa and I have both long since quit keeping goats, or chickens, or even vegetable gardens. The threat of needing to be completely self-sustaining in case Y2K set us back 1,000 years is all but forgotten, and so were all of our hippie dreams to go off “the grid”, by using recycled lumber pallets, Aladdin Lamps and old copies of Mother Earth News.
But Koko was still with us, until today. Thanks to Facebook, (which did not exist twelve years ago!) I saw a post from one of Lisa’s kids that let me know Koko was gone. They had to put her to sleep. After all, she was really old, and couldn’t get around like she used to. I called Lisa right away, and did the only thing I could do: I cried with her on the phone as she told me all the wrenching details of Koko’s last hours.
Then I hung up the phone, and cried some more. I loved Koko, I mean, how could you not? She was a great big, usually smelly, dorky, cuddly dog. But maybe she was symbolic, at least to me, of all the things I’ve lost in the past twelve years that I will never see again, not even in Heaven. And I guess, because this is the day after Thanksgiving, it seems all the more difficult to lose one more thing, one more loved one.
R.I.P., Koko. You were loved, and I will miss you.