Final Gifts

In 2011 we gifted young Alex a puppy that he named Mesa. Do you think it is strange to give a young boy an expensive puppy for nothing more than the promise to love her? I don't. Not only was Alex a particularly wise and responsible child with a terrific family, but I think I recognized in him that part of my childhood self who so wanted a dog of my very own; it made me happy to honor that desire in Alex.

Alex lived up to his end of the bargain.

And then, on a terrible night in June, Mesa died in the car on the way to the emergency vet and broke Alex's heart to pieces. 

But a dog always leaves behind an invitation. Sometimes it is hard to know what that is through the tears, through the sorrow, through the devastation -- but it is always there.

All losses are like that. It is not a silver lining because there isn't one of those when your heart is broken. And it isn't an "at least..." kind of platitude thing either. No -- what loss leaves is an invitation to learn things about life, about love, and about grief. You don't want these lessons and you wish they would go away, but to reject them is to reject the Final Gift of someone who loves us so much, and that seems wrong.

Jennifer, Alex's mom, shared this with me and I share with you -- with permission: 

"When Alex was six, my grandmother, who played a significant role in raising both of us, died.  We were both devastated but I don't know that I did a good job helping Alex through that.  I do remember that he got a horrendous migraine during the funeral and became very sick.  A month later my grandfather died.  I've always suspected that this is why Alex went from a bubbly, outgoing, silly boy to a very reserved, often detached kid.  

When I left for Boise the night Mesa died, I suspected that Alex would stay behind.  We certainly didn't know I wouldn't be bringing her home.  But he and his girlfriend were the first in the car.  When she died, he cried and cried and talked for days.  No detachment whatsoever.  It was a relief, in all honesty, to find that had been hidden in him and could still come out."

Every member of their family loved Mesa, but she belonged to Alex. In life -- and in death.

Mesa's final gifts to a young man -- knowledge that he has the capacity to feel profound loss, the ability to express sorrow, and that there is value in receiving support for heartbreak. 

But there is more.

Alex has learned that losing a great love doesn't mean life stops, and that it is okay to love again.

Little Miss Sage is not a replacement for Mesa -- she is simply Alex's next teacher. 

Let the lessons begin heart

13 comments

by Barbz on Mon, 09/04/2017 - 07:31

Wow! Mesa's legacy goes on. I am so happy that Alex loves our breed. He and Sage are our future. I wish many wonderful lessons for him from Miss Sage. He is an amazing young man.

by keli on Mon, 09/04/2017 - 08:27

For the love of a Berner. Magic happens

by Lynne on Mon, 09/04/2017 - 08:31

That's all.

by Lynn on Mon, 09/04/2017 - 08:41

Thanks for sharing this. I also have a kid that went from being outgoing, talkative and happy to being detached and isolated. I hope one day the kid finds the invitation... to some extent our former street rat cat has begun the process. I hope Alex and Sage have many happy years of "lessons."

by Jill on Mon, 09/04/2017 - 08:44

So glad he opened his heart to love ❤️

by Robin on Mon, 09/04/2017 - 08:44

My son has been raised with bernese his whole life. He has learned to rejoice and treasure the dogs and to rely on them for comfort as he has had multiple surgeries with Dr. Carson. He has learned to let go and mourn, with the passing of dogs and lately his grandparents. They are an infinite source of love and lessons.

by andrea on Mon, 09/04/2017 - 09:27

when they leave us, it is so hard to imagine being happy again, or loving another pup. this made me cry today. thank you so much for sharing. xo

by Kathy L on Mon, 09/04/2017 - 10:31

Alex has grown into such a handsome young man. Among many lessons a Berner teaches us is that we can love each dog so deeply that we are willing to open our hearts again and again to each special spirit. Just look at that beautiful family! Sage is one lucky puppy.

by Jennie Lanseigne on Mon, 09/04/2017 - 10:36

Absolutely beautiful. Our dogs give us so much, and when we lose them, the grief and sorrow we feel helps us to become better people. Thank you for sharing.

by Ca Heidi on Mon, 09/04/2017 - 11:14

I know Mesa is forever proud of her boy. We all are. He is learning and loving with grace.

I need to go find lots of Kleenex.

~H

by Mari on Mon, 09/04/2017 - 21:45

All I can think of is that saying about when one door closes, a window is opened.
Best wishes to Alex and Sage!

by Lori S. on Wed, 09/06/2017 - 07:18

I was lucky enough to meet Alex and his mom, Jennifer when I went to the "puppy pickup extravaganza" to bring George home. What a lovely young man, sweet, reserved yet friendly. My heart broke for Alex and his family when Mesa left, so suddenly and unexpected. I'm so very happy that Alex has opened his battered heart to the healing a puppy will bring. I wish them both a long happy journey together.

by Erin on Mon, 09/11/2017 - 20:29

Thank you for sharing this...even though I can barely see to type.

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