by Ashley Weeks Cart
Welcome to 30! It’s a lovely place to be, promise.
The amount of shit you’ve accomplished in just three decades is astounding. Exactly one week ago today we said goodbye to our Ursa. That’s a milestone, an experience, neither of us wanted to confront. Learning the grace and strength to let life go was your final brave act as a 20-something, and it left me humbled and grateful that I get to be the person to face these milestones, challenges, and experiences with you. I will never forget our hands linked together as Ursa took her final breath. The way we saw new pieces of ourselves and our relationship play out in those moments. The vulnerability, the sadness, the relief, the devastation, the fear, the comfort, the sorrow, and the love, above all else the love, that happened in the exhale of one last breath. I’m laid bare reliving it.
I don’t think either of us was prepared for the lasting impact of this loss. The way we still reach for the jar of peanut butter each morning for daily medicine distribution. The way we look up at that spot on the hill expecting that furry black blob to be lounging on its crest. The way we listen for grunts of contentment and whinnies of delight. The way we throw a tennis ball expecting its return.
I especially don’t think either of us expected to be so desperately, one hundred percent certain that we wanted, needed, the ebullient, exhausting, joyful spirit of our Ursa to be a part of our family so soon after her departure. We find our home too quiet. Too lonely. Too empty. Too easy without our Ursa.
Boy do we ever thrive on needy dependents, eh?
The fact that we both independently began searching for another Flat-Coated Retriever to join life on the farm speaks volumes to our mutual readiness. I know we were both worried that that kind of yearning might be too soon. That it might feel like we’re trying to replace Ursa and bury our grief. But the truth is, we both know that no dog could ever ever ever replace our Bear. No dog could ever fill the nooks and crannies of our hearts that she’s come to inhabit. But we do know how capable of love and joy our hearts can be. We know how to make room, and welcome new love in, to live in bittersweet juxtaposition to our loss of sweet Ursa.
I love that about you. About us.
Neither of us expected to want another Flat-Coat. Not with the elevated cancer risk. Not with the baggage of a purebred. Not with our championing of rescue animals.
And yet, both of us knew right away that there was no other option for us. For our family. We have fallen stupidly, irrevocably in love with the FCR spirit, and we want that to be a part of our lives, of our children’s lives.
The challenge of course being that Flatties are hard to come by given that they are more rare than other kinds of retrievers.
Well, little did you know that I’ve already found our little girl. Our next adventure. Our newest family member.
She won’t be ready to join our home until mid-October, just as our hearts wouldn’t be quite ready for her any sooner given the grief that we know we need to face and bear in order to be ready for this new phase. For this little bundle of energy and light.
Sure, we’ve had three uninterrupted nights of sleep for the first time since Addison was born. Sure, we’re well-rested and our routine feels manageable and easy. But fuck easy. Let’s bring on the crazy and the love and the laughs and the bodily fluids and the sleep deprivation and the puppy snuggles.
There’s no one in the world I’d rather do this with than you.
Happy Birthday, bebe! I love being a family with you.