July 10th is historically a happy day for us. A year ago, we were returning from a wonderful honeymoon in Saint Lucia. The year before that, I was enjoying settling in to an exciting new routine: living with my man. And every year, it’s the day before Joe’s birthday. But this year, we faced something different and heartbreaking. We had to say goodbye to our little pocket boxer, Chloe, from 6,000 miles away.
Joe took Chloe home when she was just 6 weeks old. When she passed away, she was 10 and a half. That’s a long time to be part of the family. I had the privilege of knowing her for the last three, fantastic years. Her energy, entertaining antics, and playful nature never ceased to amaze me. If we were ever feeling down, a Chloe snuggle on the floor made the world right again. There is no cuter, sillier face. Her ears always reminded me of a little bat’s wings.
Trying to process this loss seemed next to impossible. We didn’t get to hug her goodbye, we didn’t get to give her soft ears one more gentle tug. As we hung out with her via FaceTime – a distant second in comparison – we touched the screen, longing to be next to her. My parents held her, stroked her soft shoulders, and kept her company during her last day with us. When it was time to say farewell, tears rolled silently down the vet’s cheeks.
Our epic trip has been incredibly wonderful and full of adventures. We’ve had great times and tough moments. But this was by far the hardest thing we’ve had to endure. Through a haze of tears and sadness, we realized that it was 4am on Joe’s birthday. I told him I was so glad he was born. How do you wish someone a “happy birthday” when he’s just lost a precious friend?
After a slightly numb, very difficult day, we decided to keep our dinner plans at a trendy restaurant on the water. It was called Biutiful by the Lake – sounded like a peaceful, lovely place to be. An incredibly cheap Uber ride brought us to the fancy part of town, and after some wandering, we finally found the floating restaurant. Huge willow trees draped their boughs over the retractable ceiling. Bright and deep green potted plants hung on the slatted wood walls. Carved, colorful, wooden fish created a canopy over the large, central bar. And the calm, blue lake shone brightly through the entire open side.
As we settled in and sipped our cocktails, we quietly reminisced about Chloe. We toasted her memory and Joe’s birthday. The circle of life and love. We people-watched, enjoyed our flavorful and fresh food, and took comfort in each other. I captured one of my favorite photos of Joe that night. Looking at it later, he wondered that he could look so happy. I know it was at least partly because that boisterous little boxer was leaping goofily through his memories. She’ll always be there, sniffing every single smell, prancing along the path. We’ll celebrate her, and the love she brought to our lives, forever.