A year ago, we made the decision to bid farewell to our beloved Ursa. It was the hardest decision that James and I have ever made as a couple, and yet, simultaneously the easiest, as it was clear that our sweet Ursa needed relief. It was time to say goodbye. The following day, the vet came to our home and helped us give her the rest that she so deserved.
I have thought of her every day since her passing. 365 memories have danced through my head as I ache from her absence and remember the love and comfort that she brought to my life. While I am no longer paralyzed by the grief of her death, I miss her. I miss her so much that I can still feel the throbbing in my chest when she comes to the fore of my thoughts. I dream of her and Gladdy romping through the fields together. And while, logically, I know that those two creatures would never have co-existed, Gladden would not be a part of our family if Ursa were still with us, I can’t help but conjure these images of those I love together in the same space.
Sunny still talks about her and visits her grave. She reads her “Ursa books,” the books that we gave to her when Ursa was first diagnosed with cancer to help her understand sickness and death and life cycles. She drew me a picture of Ursa at camp this week, and I hadn’t even mentioned that it was the one year anniversary of her death. Ursa is present with all of us, however subconsciously.
And as I focus on this loss and reflect on a summer that was filled with devastation and loss and pain and fear, I am reminded of how fortunate I am to have made it through those darker days to now, a summer that has been filled with light and laughter and opportunity and magic and so very many happy memories. I should never take that kind of contentment and ease for granted. This summer has been a wonder, made all the more sweet remembering what we faced to make it to today.
But August 28th is not just the day that I made the decision to part with my Ursa and learned to say goodbye and let go, it is now the day that I sent my oldest child off to Kindergarten. The day that I was forced to loosen the reigns, however slightly, as she took one of many steps toward her own independence.
Today, my baby started Kindergarten.
August 28th has taught me many things. Above all, strength.