Simple Lessons from my Sweet Puppy, Piper

Since returning from my time in Burkina to graduating from university, I’ve been meaning to start a blog. In Burkina, I really enjoyed the space it gave me to share my journey and connect with others, but I didn’t know where to start.

First, it was hard to narrow down what I specifically wanted the blog to be about. “Life,” I said. But what about life? What did it mean to write about life? To me, this meant a blog about simplicity, love, growth, wholeness, and more. It meant sharing my journey. It meant sharing what it meant to be me.

Once I (sort of) figured out what this blog would be, I still didn’t know where to start. What should my first post be about? My perfectionist tendencies never seemed to find the write time or idea.

Recently, my family suffered a loss. Almost 13 years to the day, our sweet puppy, Piper, left us. This week has been one of the hardest in my life, from coming home to sit with her during her last day, to saying goodbye, to living a life without her in it. Again, this didn’t seem to be the best time to start my blog. But then I thought, if this blog is about simply being ki, then maybe anytime is the right time. If it means living your truth and sharing where I am right now, this is the only time. If I am simply being ki, then this is the place I am at right now, somewhere between happy and sad, somewhere between feeling unbearable loss and feeling incredibly grateful for the love that we shared and the love that I still have in my life, all around me.

IMG_0022.JPGI never knew how much it would hurt to lose her – my puppy, my best friend, my sister. She was my rock, always there for me. When I was younger, she was my listener, my comforter. She was the one I turned to when I felt sad or out of sorts. She made everything better. She was crazy and weird, just like us and she would make me laugh right up until the end.

Since our last goodbye, she has been on my mind from the moment I wake up until the moment I sleep. As I go about my day, I see her in this layer above the present, a memory layer that is set above the current one. I see her in all the places she used to be, memories of her constantly playing across this layer. I see her walking beside me, looking for treats, asking for rubs, sniffing the ground. Some of these scenes makes me smile, they make me feel like she’s still here in a way. I can pretend. But there’s also the moments that break my heart all over again, when I look out into the now empty backyard and see the memory layer of us sitting on the porch together her last night or the memory layer of holding her in my arms, saying goodbye. It feels like someone has stuck a knife into my heart and just keeps twisting it. This is the pain of losing someone you love. I love her and I miss her more than any words can describe. But I would not trade the thirteen incredible years I had with her to not feel this sadness now.

I have learnt that chasing happiness is futile. Everyone seems to be in pursuit of ‘happiness’, but to be happy is a state of mind, it is an emotion, no more permanent than any other. It ebbs and flows alongside sadness. Right now I am living with a sadness; happiness shows up here and there, reminding me of all the good things I have, but I am sad. And that is okay. We do not have to always be happy, and it is okay to let ourselves be sad. It is okay to feel the weight of loss, to let it be, knowing that it too will pass. Happiness and sadness go hand in hand – we cannot have one without the other. Piper taught me that.

Reflecting on my years with her, I realize too that she has taught me a lot about living simply and being present in the moment.

She taught me how to be present, stopping to sniff every single inch of grass on our walks or to dive into a fresh pile of snow. It was the little things in life that mattered most, she showed me.

She taught me to be patient with others, reminding me that sometimes we just have to be there for people wherever they are. I learnt to walk at her pace because the walk was for her, not me. I learnt to help her when she was stuck on the floors, because even though it seemed simple to me, it was hard for her.

She taught me that it was okay to be weird and particular about certain things. The rug had to be in the exact right spot – one inch off and she could not cross. The water was better with a little bit of dirt in it.

She taught me that we didn’t really need a whole lot of options. As a puppy, we tried to buy her different toys, but all she cared about having were rawhide bones and denta sticks. She was even happy with the burnt pieces of food no one else wanted.

She taught me that I didn’t need to conform to society’s expectations of how I should live my life. Being a labrador retriever didn’t mean she had to play fetch. She learned how to throw, and taught my mom to fetch instead.

She taught me that spending time with others was what mattered most. She was always eager to see us and get rubs. She loved being near us, but not too close that she felt crowded.

She taught me to love unconditionally. She trusted me and let me bug her in a way that she wouldn’t let anyone else. She loved me, she was there for me, and in return I loved her wholeheartedly. I let her into my heart with no reservations, no fears, no conditions.

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This is where she now lives: in my heart, in my memory layer, where I will continue to love her forever. I will always think of her as I eat my last bite of toast, or watch the snow fall, or use a kleenex.

I love you sweet Piper. Thank you for loving me and teaching me so much about what matters most in life.

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