All Dogs Go To Heaven

Monday, November 9

My four year-old, Briggs threw up last night, or more accurately, very early this morning.

He actually doesn’t have a stomach bug, but rather horrible post-nasal drip. His coughing is painful to listen to, and what’s worse is that I find his persistent hack dreadfully…annoying.

The irony of this is not lost on me.  After pushing and punishing my body for years, my immune system finally gave out on me around July 4th and I  remained in (what felt and sounded like) a perpetual bronchial state for more than three months.  Though, I didn’t have bronchitis (allergies and exhaustion) and neither does Briggs.  His lungs are clear.  Temp is normal.  No sore throat, change of appetite, or spikes in white blood cells.

He’s got a cold and a steadfast refusal to blow his nose.  Hence the chronic post-nasal drip and mucey-pukey wake-up call at 2AM.

Though watching him fall (peacefully) back to sleep in our bed remedies any annoyance that crept in from my lower (as opposed to my higher) self.  When I wake up four hours later to practice yoga, I know that he needs the gift of deep sleep and decide that I won’t bring him to daycare until long after he wakes up on his own time.

This means morning drop-off is putt off until nearly 10:30, and that I’m rushing to get to therapy by 11, and that I can’t start wrapping up some deadline driven proposals for work until 12:30, and when I see that it’s suddenly 4:00, I remember that I signed Briggs up for a Bubble Class at our library that is supposed to be a really big deal.  But, that starts at 4:15 and so if I decide to go for it, it will mean rushing to get there as well.

And I need to drop something off at the post office.  Instead, I consider dropping the post office and library all together, but before I do I stop.  Breathe.  Remember:

Instead of pushing to get out the door, you let your son sleep in.  Shared tea and juice on the couch.  Enjoyed a breakfast of apples and hard-boiled eggs.

He was well-rested and so happy to see his friends at daycare.

You weren’t late for therapy.

You submitted your work before deadline.

You ate lunch.  

Treated yourself to a decaf iced coffee.  

Had a lovely (random) conversation with a Mom who is desperately missing her (only) son who’s on his fourth deployment – who said that you noticing her Army Parent pin was the nicest thing that had happened to her in a long time.

This is a nice letter you’ve written – it deserves to be sent to your high school friend. Briggs loves the post office.  If you’re five-minutes late to the library class, they’ll still let you in.

It’s a good day.  All is well.  Keeping giving.

And so, I do.

I pick up Briggs (he’s pumped for bubbles), the post office goes remarkably smooth (and I pick up the new Peanut stamps for my Christmas Cards), but, when Briggs beats me on our fun-run to the children’s section, he’s the first to find out that I’ve made a mistake.

“Mom, she says I’m not signed up for today!”  he calls from the check-in desk.

“No, no, you are, I know I registered you with Miss Lisa at story time two weeks ago.”

I make my way over, repeat his name, my name, bring up the email confirmation on my phone…when, the kind woman at check-in and I both come to the realization at the same time:

Bubbles is next Monday.

“Today,” she tells us, “is a class on service animals.  But, two kids did just drop out, so, Briggs if you want to stay, you can.”

He does and I’m thankful.

I get him set up with his name tag and then wait out in the hall with my book and the other Moms until the session has wrapped.

40-minutes later Briggs comes dashing out, insisting that I “HAVE” to meet Ireland.

Ireland is a beautiful black lab who bares a striking resemblance to Stuart Little.

Stuart was a part of my original family (Mom, Dad, and three sisters) for a little more than 13 years.  He saw all of us girls through our high school dramas and traumas.  Through my mother’s diagnosis, treatment, and remission of breast cancer.  Through my son’s very fragile first few months following his 61-day stay in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU).  And Stuart’s death, I believe, was the final heart-ache my Dad had to endure before recognizing this his Depression was too big, and too heavy, and too painful to keep carrying on his own.

It’s hard to keep from crying when I see Ireland, and I ask his trainer, John if it’s okay to pet him.  He says it is and Ireland lovingly leans right into me.

“Thank you so much for bringing him in today,” I say.

“Oh, you’re welcome.  You’re Briggs’s Mom, right?”

“Yes, he loved the class.”

“I’m so glad you stopped by, because the strangest thing happened when it was Briggs’s turn to have a moment with Ireland.  Ireland actually put his head right on Briggs’s lap and, this might sound odd, but Ireland does this sort of smile thing.  He smiled right at him and then laughed.”

Now the tears were unavoidable.  Stu’s smile was his calling card.  He was the only dog I’ve ever met who would smile on command – or even in response from a big smile from a known loved one.

And his laugh – though it always sounded more like a sneeze to me – was infectious.

“Thank you so much for telling me that,” I said.  “We weren’t even really supposed to be here today, but I’m so thankful we were.”

“Briggs was a great addition to the class.   We’re thankful he was here,” John said.

I left reassured that the schedule you fall into is the schedule you’re meant to keep, and that all dogs most certainly do go to heaven…and some even come back for a moment of heaven on earth.


3 thoughts on “All Dogs Go To Heaven

  1. Sabrina

    This is my favorite – I am an animal lover so the title pulled me in immediately. But I love how, by chance, you happened upon something so wonderful and you were able to see it for what it was. I hope that I can keep being inspired by you to stop rushing and see the beauty of life in every little thing that happens.


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