For many people, the holiday season is a time to reflect as well as to celebrate. When Christmas time comes, I can’t help but think of one of my dearest friends who passed away and crossed the Rainbow Bridge two days after Christmas, 4 years ago. Her name was Buttons, and she was a border collie/hound mix that my cousin found running in the road in Joliet. He brought her to my grandparents, assuming that they could find a home for her through their boarding kennel. I was 9, and when I came to visit, it was love at first sight. It didn’t take much to convince my parents to bring her home, but for me, that wasn’t enough.
Being a smart woman, my mom made me earn her by doing chores, and I couldn’t have been prouder when she was finally all mine.
Over the years, I learned so many valuable lessons from my friend Buttons. She taught me forgiveness when she would overlook my childish mistakes with her. She taught me loyalty and strength when I almost lost her after she was hit by a car but she refused to give up, standing up on the vet’s operating table and wagging her tail when my parents brought me in to say good-bye. She taught me independence and courage, for with her by my side, the woods behind my house were able to be conquered. But most importantly, she taught me the true meaning of love, and I didn’t understand this final lesson until I held her as she quietly slipped away with a quiet dignity, after the cancer she struggled with just became too much for us both to bear.
Losing her was truly one of the most difficult moments of my life, but I wouldn’t trade the time I had with her for anything in the world.