This was our first Christmas without Jeffrey. Well, our first Christmas since 2007 – the year we adopted him. And, heartbreakingly, our first white Christmas here since 2010. Jeffrey LOVED the snow. He made me want to be out in it, even when I would have been more likely to opt for a warm blanket and the couch. I just couldn’t say no when he looked at me with those deep, soulful brown eyes. Let’s do this, Mom!
Winter walks and hikes were this boy’s love language. He wasn’t big into snuggle sessions and he simply tolerated my need to hold his face in my hands and smooch his beautiful caramel-colored forehead. He showed his love in more subtle ways, like with these little nose bumps. He’d walk in a room and give us a nose bump to say hi. He’d randomly get up from his bed for a just-making-sure-you’re-still-there nose bump. On hikes, we’d sometimes get a this-is-so-much-fun nose bump to the leg as he herded us along.
Jeffrey was also a guardian of the kids. He didn’t dig the craziness, but this winter boy would hang out in the backyard for sledding sessions like a dedicated keeper of his pack. Sometimes playing, sometimes just watching over all the madness. I scrambled for my phone to grab this pic (below), but it turned out I needn’t have rushed. He sat like this for quite a long time, quietly observing his kids from the background and treasuring the togetherness. We MISS him madly.
When we brought the tree home this year, we slid the dog beds out of the way to make room for it as we always do. I had Jeffrey’s bed in my hands and thought for a moment that perhaps we shouldn’t keep it here anymore? I shook my head tearfully and set it back down. I couldn’t imagine lighting the Christmas tree with only one dog’s bed illuminated by its glow. There was comfort in sitting in the living room and imagining Jeffrey right there beside his little brother Dasher. With US…where he has always belonged.
We lost Jeffrey in October and it’s still so difficult. Our connection to this creature who was part of our lives for so long was so very strong. He was family. Jeffrey was a complicated guy with a depth that is hard to articulate. We didn’t always know what he was thinking, but we certainly knew he was always thinking.
On his last day with us, my husband Derek and I carried Jeffrey from the car to visit his favorite places. We cried, we reminisced about all the things we’d done together, we took turns holding him in our arms. We can still see Jeffrey leading the way on every hike. The snow will forever remind us of his free spirit and absolute contagious enthusiasm for life. You’ve taught us so much about appreciating the little things, Jeffrey. It really doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Just taking a moment in a busy day can mean the world. A short walk instead of an hours-long hike, stopping for a hug instead of hurriedly rushing past each other. And, don’t forget those little nose bumps. What I wouldn’t give for another one of those. We love you, Jeffrey.