When I was back in Missouri a few weeks ago, I visited family and friends. I also visited families of friends. I spent one evening with Mrs. Owens, a favorite among the mothers of my kidhood; a sweetheart I’ve known since 7th grade and in whose kitchen there was always something on the stove. When I walked in the back door and gave her a big hug, Mrs. Owens had a casserole warm and waiting on the burners. “Are you girls hungry?” she said, just like old times.
Mrs. Owens recently lost her oldest daughter. The casserole, delivered during the funeral, had been frozen since then and she thought it would be the perfect thing to share. When I asked how she was doing, she said she’d loved all of the cards and letters she’d received and was sad that they’d stopped coming. They made her feel better.
When I got back to California, the first thing I did —- really, the very first thing —- was to sit down and write Mrs. Owens a letter. I wrote about how great it was to see her. I wrote about her daughter who died; about how much fun she was; about how she’d never treated us younger kids like we were “younger kids;” about how Mrs. Owens’s house was, and still is, one of our favorite places to be.
Yesterday afternoon, our sweet Annie Belle died suddenly on our living room floor. She’d been at the vet all day for tests — she’d not been feeling well — and we’d only been home for a 1/2 hour when she passed. As shocking as it was, I was also relieved. Annie was 12 years old and part of our family for 7 months, but she’d been suffering some lately and I was thankful she went out of this world on her own terms, surrounded by those of us who adored her.
I woke up so sad this morning, missing the big dog who slept so happily on the floor by my bed, and knew immediately what to do. I found Annie’s adoption papers in my files. On the first page I saw the name and email address of the woman who surrendered Annie to Lab Rescue. Here’s how she answered two of the questions on the form:
Reason for placing: : We planned to find Annie a home for my sister who had planned to leave her at a shelter. I’ve had her for over a year, but my house is already full with kids and pets so I can’t keep her. Annie is super sweet, affectionate and loves people. She spent many years alone in my sister’s back yard and now gets anxious if left outside alone.
Please include any other information which could be helpful to the dog’s new owners: Annie is so gentle — she just needs lots of love, walks, pets on the head, hugs and kind words!
So while I had my morning coffee, I sat down and wrote this woman some kind words, a letter telling her that Annie had died peacefully, that she lived a wonderful life here, that we loved her to pieces, that the whole neighborhood adored her, and to thank her for calling Lab Rescue.
What do you do, when you don’t know what to do?
You write a letter.