This weekend my college roommate, CW, came for a visit. She was in town for a conference and stayed over to hang out with me. Many times during her visit I found myself wondering if Mina would’ve remembered CW from the 18 months we lived in Denver and hung out with CW and her family. When I had to go out of town for business or to a family event, Mina usually stayed with CW and her family. I babysat the kids on a few evenings and Mina and I always had a really good time with them.

I talked about Mina a lot this weekend. I miss her every day but seemed to miss her more when our friend from our time in Denver was here. It felt wrong that Mina wasn’t here to enjoy CW’s company, too. I’m sure Mina would’ve slept out in the living room with her, and pushed the limit on her begging-for-food techniques and had a blast with us at the winery yesterday.

When we lived in Denver, CW and her family had an elderly, arthritic puppy named Spud. Mina was always curious about Spud, but Spud wanted nothing to do with a 2-year-old and her crazy energy. So Mina contented herself with getting on the furniture (forbidden!) and coercing treats from the kids. I know she enjoyed walking in their beautiful, leafy, older neighborhood and hanging out in the park.

Hanging out with my old friend brought back a lot of memories of our time in Denver, mostly remembering how young Mina was when we lived there. She turned three a few months after we moved and had her fourth birthday a few months before moved back. You can see pictures of our Denver days here and here.

There's my happy girl as we arrive in Denver, August 1999

We had a good time, we remembered a lot of silly stuff, we caught up on the news … I think Mina hung out with us at the winery, and I’m pretty sure she was riding with me on the way back from the airport.

I miss you baby girl …

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Mina, as you know from reading this blog since April, has a large family. She loves everyone but especially Auntie Sue and Uncle Robin, who’ve done so much for us this year that I’ll never be able to fully repay them.

Sue and Robin, in addition to providing incredible emotional support, have also provided incredible financial support. We visited frequently for dinners at their home during Mina’s life and took Mina to any dog-friendly winery we could find. Sue often told me over the years that she’ll do “anything for Mina, ” and they proved that from the moment they met Mina until her last moments with us.

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On the way to Auntie Sue's during one of our many trips together

We’ve spent every Thanksgiving holiday with Sue and Robin since 2002. The first year we visited their home in the piedmont, I took Mina, then 6 years old, outside for some exercise. We walked around near the trees, sniffed everything possible, she ran a lot, and then … she chased the turkey.

Oh yeah, she lit out after a big wild turkey like she was gonna protect me from the feathered menace! The poor turkey was running and flapping his wings and trying to lift off while I was shouting at Mina to “Stop! Mina, NO!” as I ran behind her. Mina didn’t get too close to the turkey that day, but she caused quite a stir with all the dinner guests who watched from the windows.

We always had hors d’oeuvres and wine before dinner was served. The snacks were laid out on the large, living room coffee table and Mina, being a leggy girl, could easily poach whatever she liked if we weren’t looking. We tried, over the years, to make sure someone was always guarding the snacks, not because we didn’t want to share with Mina but because some snacks might’ve made her sick, but we did fail on occasion. I remember one Thanksgiving when I found a shrimp on the table and a trail of cocktail sauce dribbled on the table top. Mina had a distinctly fishy smell about her muzzle. We suspect she poached a few other snacks over the years, too.

What Sue remembers most about those family dinners was watching everyone lift their glasses off the table as Mina passed by, wagging her big, fluffy tail! Mina broke a few wine glasses in her life, just by swishing her beautiful tail as she walked by a coffee table.

One time, when Sue and Robin’s beloved Ariadne was alive, Mina and I stayed over at their house for two nights to tend to Miss Ariadne’s needs while her parents attended a wedding. Now, Ariadne was a very demanding, elderly kitty. She wasn’t fond of her cousin Mina, and she wasn’t terribly fond of me, but we were all she had that weekend and she made her demands known – loudly.

The very first evening we were there, I let Mina go outside on the ground floor at the back of the house. In seconds, Mina spotted a deer at the edge of the trees and took off! I ran after her, calling for her to stop, but I didn’t see the 4-6 inch drop off the porch. I fell. Hard. My cry of pain brought Mina back immediately to see what was wrong. I limped back into the house, Mina following with a worried look on her face, to survey the damage. Turns out I had a nasty soft tissue injury to my foot and, following advice from a friend, I didn’t remove my shoe so that it wouldn’t swell.

But it really, really hurt. I spent the evening hopping around on one foot, taking care of Mina and Ariadne’s food and potty needs. At one point I must’ve been moaning on the couch from the pain because Ariadne, who did not like anyone to cry or moan around her, came to the top of the stairs and yelled at me! Mina sat by my side all night doing whatever she could to comfort me – kisses, offering her belly for rubs, sleeping near me.

The following morning, I was awakened by an eerie sound. I swear I heard someone calling my voice – “Sheryl! Sheeeerrrrryyyll!” I hobbled over to the stairs and saw Ariadne at the top, looking really annoyed. I’d slept late and she wanted breakfast – NOW! Mina patiently followed me up the stairs as I hopped on one foot, we took care of Ariadne’s breakfast and went outside for a bit.

Later that morning, while I was cleaning up in the kitchen, I heard a really loud hissing sound. It was almost a roar. I ran up to the third floor to find Ariadne on the bedroom floor, hair up, tail up, hissing at Mina, who was in the doorway attempting to get past Ariadne to her food supply. Mina had never seen anything like this in her life and was appropriately intimidated. We went back downstairs, but Ariadne didn’t show her face again, I’m sure, until her parents returned home.

Auntie Sue and Uncle Robin took care of Mina for me whenever I had to be away for the day and, once or twice, for an overnight visit. I know they spoiled Mina during these visits, and Auntie Sue liked to have craft projects lined up for Mina, too.

Last August, when I drove to Philly and back to see NIN, Mina stayed with Sue and Robin. During that visit, they made a craft project that I treasure, now more than ever. It’s a pink, homemade “play dough” plaque of Mina’s paw print. Auntie Sue said Mina was very patient on the first two tries to get her paw print right, but after the third she was done. It’s a wonderful gift and it now sits on our dining table.

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Mina's pink paw print plaque

The last project they made together, which was done when Mina spent the day with them while I traveled to see NIN earlier this year, is a newspaper front page hailing Mina as a “healing hero.”

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Mina's front page project

It hangs in my office at work to remind me that Mina fought hard, very hard, to stay with me.

This evening marks one week since our last dinner together at Sue and Robin’s. I can’t believe it’s been a week. Time is passing and I feel left behind, looking for Mina, wanting to go on with our lives together, feeling completely lost and hopeless without her. Mina brought love and joy and light and beauty to my life every single day, and those who knew her loved her well. I could not have made it through Monday morning without Sue, and she and Robin took me to pick up Mina’s ashes on Wednesday. I don’t deserve friends like them, it was Mina who brought people to me.

I love you, baby. I miss you every moment of every day.

s.