Monday, April 20, 2015

Day 20 - Breathe Bravely Challenge

Finding the beauty in every breath. 

As cliché as it might sound, it really does feel just like yesterday that we brought Cooper home. It's hard for me to believe that today, he turns 7 years old. Where did the years go and how did I allow them to go fleeting by so quickly? Thinking back on those years, Cooper has been such an integral part of our family. He has been through the best of times with us and the most difficult. Although, he doesn't say much (unless barking at the treat closet), his eyes and presence communicate so much. He has been a presence of comfort and stability for me through everything and continues to be. 

Although I do not recall a lot of specific memories between my brother and I, there's one thing that will always connect us: the love for a dog.  Not only will we forever be connected as brother and sister, and the fact that we both had and have CF, but we will always have this special understanding of what the love and companionship of a dog can really mean. Little did I realize that until now as I think about the last 7 years with Cooper and what his presence has brought to my life. Nate spent most all of his life living at the hospital. My childhood home was more of a vacation retreat for him, and his true home was the hospital. The room itself might have been made of cold cement and sterile tile, but it was filled with such warmth by all those who cared for him. The most incredible thing was when Nate was roughly about 13 years old, the hospital let him get a dog. Not only did the hospital let him get a dog, they let him keep the dog with him at the hospital at all times. Mystic, was a little Maltese that went everywhere and did everything with Nate. I remember throwing toys across the room and watching Mystic's little white fur bounce across the tile: I can still hear the sound of those little paws meeting the hard floor. Looking back, that dog meant everything to Nate: it meant a bit of normalcy, the comforts of a companion, and the experience of loving something and being loved in return unconditionally. After Nate died, Mystic became mine. He continued to grow up with me and be a stable and irreplaceable connection to Nate in my adolescent life. But looking back he would always be Nate's and I would not really understand the depth of that connection until now. 

Today, I packed Cooper up and we went for a ride to the dog bakery to celebrate his birthday: something I couldn't have done a mere 3 months ago. It was just him and I taking on the world. Life is truly beautiful. Sometimes I think that Cooper knows me better than anyone: there's something so truly special that we share in the silence between us. He knows what's happening, he knows what CF is doing to our lives, and most of all what CF is doing to me, yet his presence is unwavering and reassuring. He sits on the couch next to me as I do treatments, kisses the tears away during those difficult times, and brightens any and all days.  Most of all, my love for Cooper will always be a connection to Nate. Love to all you pet lovers.

Go hug your dog.

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