dear mina


It’s turning cold here, Mina Bean, just the way you like it. When I got into bed last night I remembered how you used to put your head on the spare pillow and press your back against mine. I wonder if you have any idea how much that comforted me? Sometimes, you’d move to the end of the bed before I fell asleep and sometimes I’d wake up to find you snoozing away near my feet.

This time of year is always sad for me with the trees losing their beautiful green and the weather turning mean. You never saw it that way, though. I think for you the fall was the best time of year! You could trot around outside without feeling hot and visit your human and canine friends for longer periods. Tell the truth I always loved how you looked more in the fall because you got all fuzzy!

Mina in Denver, 2000

So, I’m thinking about you all the time these fall days. Remembering this week last year when I was desperate to get out of a four-day seminar because you were in bad shape and needed me at home. It worked out for us but the anxiety leading up to the solution nearly killed me – and probably made you worry more than you needed.

Sometimes now when I think of you I see you running, always running. You loved to run flat out whenever you could and I loved the pure joy on your face and in your movements. Everything around you is green and natural, no pavement or roads with cars to worry about.

Run, baby girl, run!

It’s your birthday! You were born 14 years ago today and I met you 10 weeks later when you were a tiny ball of hair with a nose and a tail. You bounced instead of walking, a habit you kept all your life. The bouncy walk made your butt swing back and forth and you looked like you were sort of prancing.

1996, Mina about 5 weeks old, held by Gina

Our relationship wasn’t the best, at first. I was sad after losing Wolfie but that didn’t stop you from being a happy, bouncing puppy. When you came to live with me a month after we’d met I was overwhelmed by your energy, and you were delighted to have a canine playmate!

1997, Mina and Goldie

I love remembering your puppy days and how we grew closer over the years. When I think of you now it’s as a young girl, running in fields with your doggie friends, chasing and playing and smiling your big Mina smile.

You made me smile every single day we spent together. We laughed together, sometimes we danced together, and took a lot of walks together. I miss walking with you so much.

You’re having a wonderful birthday, my sweetie girl, and I’ll be thinking of you all day and remembering all the great times we had together! You’re always in my thoughts, and you live in my heart. Forever.

All my love …

Not long after you left, I asked a friend how I’d fill the time by myself that you and I spent together. You know what I mean, the morning time and the evening time when we took our walks together. She told me then that I’d find things to fill those times of day and still complain about not enough hours in the day.

She was right, of course, as all my friends who’ve experienced the deep grief of a lost beloved have been right. But I think you would not approve of how I fill that time in the morning when we used to take our early morning walk …

moon rise, october 4, 2009

10.4.09, taken during morning walk with Mina

Internet time. I know, I know, you were no fan of the computer because it distracted me from spending time with you. Our morning time was precious because it was brief and we wouldn’t see each other again until afternoon. But I’m sure you understand that I have to do something to fill that hour and, yes, I could go for my own morning walk, that’s true. Trust me, I feel your disapproval sometimes.

Honestly, I do try to honor the 8:30 p.m. curfew on computer time. It’s pretty easy to do most evenings because I fill the time we used to walk together by getting ready for the next work day. Yes, there are some evenings I’m tweeting and surfing and e-mailing until much later. Believe me, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing than spending that time with you, fur-face.

Some of the rules are still in place because they keep me out of trouble, but I’m much better now about going out to run an errand, or something, after my workout. Breaking that rule took a few months because coming home and leaving again was your number one crime!

mina walking in herndon 2005

Walking in Herndon, Virginia in 2005

I miss you every single day, Miss Bean. I live a different life now without you – not a better one, but a different one. I love you the most.

You know what I miss? Taking you for a walk at 4:15 a.m. Well, not when the morning temps are below 75F, you certainly know how I feel about winter, but I miss being outside with you when no one else is around and it’s quiet. I thought about our walks this morning while throwing stuff in a blender for breakfast and how I’d much rather be walking around the complex with you.

I missed you on the trip to Florida, too. I wasn’t very good about stopping as often as I should, but I did hit the pet areas of a couple of rest stops. I didn’t meet any canines, though. There was a nice dog in Dad’s neighborhood that I met twice – Buster. His people told me that he’s too rambunctious when he meets other dogs and I smiled thinking about your enthusiasm when you met your canine friends. Sometimes you didn’t like the other dog for reasons I didn’t understand but respected.

2008 Pet of the Month winner and her prizes Photo: Auntie Lolo

There’s a dog at the winery now that you’d like; his name is Birch. I think he’s your kinda boy because he’s so busy chasing toys that he wouldn’t cling but he’s handsome and older and I can see you sniffing around him and maybe going outside with him to watch him chase toys. Maybe you’ve already met him?

Y’know I miss having you around to take care of me. I think that was one of the hard things about your cancer; that our roles reversed and I became the caretaker. You were too sick to worry about me and fuss over me. I guess some people might think that’s one blessing out of a terminal illness – that we became even closer (and I didn’t think that was possible) and you relied on me for absolutely everything and you didn’t have to be on guard all the time.

Some days, like this one, are hard and I wish you were here to comfort me. This whole world is a harsher, harder place without you, Mina Bean.

Tomorrow it’s 10 months without you. It seems like longer and yet I can sometimes smell you and see you so clearly in all your places. I love you, sweet girl.

Hey baby girl,

Mina lounging at Dad's, 2007

I’m getting ready for another road trip down home to Florida soon and can’t stop thinking about you. I cleaned up the car some and fixed your seat cover so it stays in place, just in case you feel like riding along. You’re such a good companion on road trips and I miss you every time I get in the car. I miss packing up all your toys and bowls and stand and your food and treats. I miss walking you around rest stops in various states. I miss taking you for walks in Dad’s neighborhood so you can sniff all the new smells while avoiding sand spurs and the occasional snake.

 

I was braver when you were here; I had to be to protect you from any harm.

So, tonight I’m getting out the ginormous suitcase to start packing. I never used to get it out so early when you were with me all the time; I know it upset you because you worried I might leave and not take you along. I’m sorry that you ever felt that way, sweetie girl. We didn’t spend that much time apart and I always kept my promise to come home to you. The rest stops aren’t the same without you, Mina Bean.

Auntie Kestrel told me the other day that she had a flash of Tosca and she was in a natural environment. That’s how I think of you, too. I see you running in huge green fields with other dogs and playing until you fall asleep under a tree or in a soft bed. I also see you eating a lot of pizza. Some day I’ll run with you and we’ll eat pizza together.

But for now I’m off to Grandpa’s house without you – again. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to making this trip alone. My plan is to stop more often this time, like we used to do, and to pet any canines I meet at the rest stops. Sort of a way of remembering our many trips together, I guess.

I love you, punkin head.

Hey there, girlie girl! It’s coming up on five months since I last kissed your face and held you in my arms. I’ve been trying to keep myself busy but with the insane tree pollen season it seems I’m home a lot. We have such sunny days right now that whenever I look at the living room windows I see your nose prints there at the bottom, and a couple further up, too. The scratches you made with your nails mark the windowsill and I can almost see you standing on the sill, huffing at something below that just wasn’t quite bark-worthy.

I spent Easter Sunday at the winery with a friend and kept thinking “This place needs more Mina.” It never is the same there without you, greeting all the other dogs, walking around the grounds as you madly sniff everything possible, and giving you the forbidden Milk Bones from the jar on the tasting bar.

It might be time to unlock the bedroom doors again. I’ve hated doing that in the months since you’ve been gone – it makes me feel like I’m locking you out. I know you can go wherever you damn well please, so I hope you haven’t been offended by the change. But it’s warmer now and being locked in the room feels suffocating and just odd. I miss hearing your collar tags jingle from the living room where you preferred to sleep in those last couple of years. I miss the sound of you lapping water from your bowl, and I miss getting up to check on you whenever I heard an odd sound.

I miss you, sweetie. I always will.

Hey baby girl,

Your official scrapbook is officially complete. I added some pictures and a couple of blog posts, wrote in all of the journal spaces, added all of the sympathy cards and condolence e-mail messages to finish it up. It sits now on the dining table by your pink footprint plaque that you made with Auntie Sue a couple years ago. I look at it a lot.

Have you noticed that I’m trying not to cry so much when I talk to you? I don’t want to make you sad every time I talk to you so I’m cutting myself off before the tears come. It seems I’m OK talking to you during the day but at night I get weepy. Sorry about that, sweetie.

Oh, I sent your “formal portrait” to my friend Samuel, in Nairobi. Our friend Paula took it to him when she went home after her DC visit. He loves it! He told me he’s going to frame it and hang it in his house and take a picture of it. I’m so proud of the influence you had on people during your life and even after you’ve gone.

Mostly, I miss being able to rub your belly and give you big hugs and kiss your face. I miss you kissing my nose and coming over to sit quietly near me when I have food that you find appealing. I still look up at the windows when I come home every day, hoping to see your furry face at the glass.

I miss you as much as I love you, Mina Bean

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