Since Thursday morning, when my mom's sad voice shared the loss of Riley, I have been bounced back and forth between sadness in the knowledge of knowing that I will never snuggle Riggles again, silliness in recalling the mountains of Riley-memoires that I have saved up over the last six years, and sheer thankfulness for all the love, support and kind words that have come, literally, from all over the globe.
As a tech-loving teacher, you are often treated to tales of how technology is de-humanizing the world, and how youth will never learn emotions and know human realities from their constant interactions on the internet. It has been through this sad loss of a member of my family, that I have had proven right my convinctions about the internet's positive potentional. While I was sitting at my desk, drenched in tears and unable to make a conherent thought, I blogged a simple post to tell all of the veganfoodie world, who I admire, read, love and feel inspired by every day, that something horrible had happened. And quicker than the baking time for Vcon's Double Chocolate Chip Cookies, so many of you responded - with kind words, with virtual hugs, with beautiful cultural traditions, and with stories of connections and understanding. I can't thank you enough. You helped me get through that tough few hours and over the weekend. I also feel that the little bits of Riley that I share with you will be transmitted and remembered by people other than me and my family. I will always be impacted by the support of this blogging world when I think of this very sad loss. Thank you - all of you.
Let me tell you just a little bit about Riley. After four years of university, the end was in sight and the end happened to coincide with my sister's 13th birthday. Her present was a furry, show dog parented, papers filled-out and filed, Golden Retriever. I was lucky enough to have given myself a repreive from working that summer - as I readied myself for my Master's year in English. I did nothing more that summer than play with Riley and hang out with my mom and sister.
Riley was a perfect puppy right from the start. I can't think of one moment, or one story where he was naughty or snarled or bit or snapped. He was a perfect companion to all of us - each of us getting the love and treatment from Riley that he thought was the best for us. Even when I moved away from my parent's animal loving home, Riley always treated me the same, always came and cuddled, always let me chase him around the living room, always rested his little (ok, big) head on my knee while I was eating ANYTHING. He was a wonderfully fluffy and funny dog who always, always said 'yes' to ice cream, and no matter how much he hated tofu, he would always taste a little before returning it back to the floor from where he had picked it up from.
It is my parents and my little sister who I feel most keenly for right now, as I know that Riley isn't suffering and likely carrying around all the shoes he can find in doggie heaven. He was such a massive physical and spiritual presence in their now too-big house. And, the sad fact is that Riley isn't the only pet they have lost this year - three months ago, their long time kitty friend Jake also died. The seven hour flight home has never felt so long, and the prospect of three more weeks here in Belgium has never felt quite so frustrating - all I want is to be home with my family and give them a big fat hug.
Kevin was busy all day Saturday trying to keep a smile on my face - something which he did quite well. We FINALLY bought a dining room table (upon which we ate a great meal last night), we also picked up a desk, a laundry room organizer that we couldn't put together, and bookshelf doors. The other two little creatures who were big and wonderful helpers this weekend in making me smile were Sylvia and Eliot - my own little precious packages of fuzzy love. They did lots of silly things this weekend to make me laugh and remember all the reasons why having pets in your life is well worth the sadness we feel when it is time to say goodbye.
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