Photo courtesy of Two Birds Photography
To my sweet Princess--
Happy Birthday, sweet girl! Today is the first April 21st that I haven't spent with you in 15 years. It's not quite half my life, but it's close.
Every year for six years prior to this one, your Dad and I would be getting ready for your party--a party to celebrate the miracle that you were, the special soul that touched so many people. It's been hard this year, not having a party to plan. I know I always went overboard, but it made me feel like I was giving something back to you, because you always gave so much to me.
I've tried to keep busy this year, during your "birthday season." I threw myself into getting Cimba and I ready for a big horse show. That helped a lot. Papa and I have been fostering cats too, sweet boys without a family of their own, who just need a place to get their bearings before finding their forever home. We got tattoos of your paw print this week. Sometimes I wish I had taken the stamp of your paw before you died, but now, knowing that this print is a lasting part of your physical being, it's not bittersweet. I remember taking the print from your cold, stiff paws. I remember crying while doing it, wishing all the love and pain in my heart could bring that paw back to life. Knowing that whatever print I put to paper would be forever inked onto my skin, just like you are inked forever onto my heart. But I feel more complete having your print on my forever. It doesn't make me sad. It reminds me of you every time I see it--like you reached down from heaven and burned your image onto me--and it's a happy reminder. A reminder of what you gave to me, who you helped me become. I'm a better person because of you, and I know your Dad is too.
It's impossible to be angry that you're not with us today. You were old and tired, and you chose your time and place to go. How could I be angry with you for that? But I miss you every single day. Papa does too. We talk about you a lot, and we try to remember your legacy, and we strive to be better parents and better people. I know that sounds cheesy, but it's completely true. That's part of what made you so special. No dog is "just a dog." But you were even more than that. I can't explain it. I know everyone who loved you understands what I mean.
So, while I sit here with tears in my eyes, my heart breaking that you are not with me today, I remind myself of what you would want. You wouldn't want me to cry and be sad--that always upset you. You'd want me to be happy. You'd be happy that some of your favorite people are coming over today to keep us company. You always loved when your friends came to visit. So we'll be together on this day, all thinking of you, but living our lives and continuing on.
You'll be forever in my heart, and in Papa's heart. I hope there is a huge celebration for you in heaven today--a huge theme party like Mama would have done. A party filled with food and games, but most importantly, with your friends, surrounding you with love.
Happy 15th Birthday, my sweet angel.