My best friend Stacy was killed in a car accident on the day before Thanksgiving in 2005. So it began when I received the news on Thanksgiving morning , and got worse every day, this relentless grief that pursued me with abandon. I ran from it fast and hard, refusing to let myself collapse. But as it must go, months later the grief caught me and I did collapse. I gave in, crumbling under its crushing weight. Too exhausted to fight anymore, I let it drag me to the bottom of its well and leave me there.
By the time spring came in 2006, I was in the middle of one of the darkest places I’ve ever known, and I didn’t think I had the energy to pull myself out of it. In fact, I was certain I didn’t. And so it happened that my mother said to me “You need a dog,” and the words nested in my brain and refused to leave. I always loved dogs and I’d had one when I was growing up, so of course. Yes. A dog. I needed a dog. I needed a dog. And one day in April 2006, I got one.
She was a skinny, wary black and white mutt curled up in the corner of a pen in a shelter. She didn’t seem interested in impressing anyone who walked past her, but when I paused to look at her, when I said “Hey girl, hey Sweet Pea,” she lifted her head and looked at me with those eyes of hers that betrayed a deeper, sharper intelligence than I’ve seen in many humans. Then she cocked her head to the side and gave me a giant goofy grin. And that was it. I was in love.