Last night marked the first night in 15 years that I didn’t have her sleeping immediately next to me. Before climbing into bed, out of an obvious habit, I patted the covers to feel where she would normally be. I lied down with an emptiness that I had been anxious for as the evening loomed and now already feeling tonight. We lost our Lilly yesterday and the strong ache in my heart certainly is an even stronger reminder that her small stature sure did fill more than each one of us could have even fathomed.

She’s my first. And she’s been the constant in our family really. I was only 24 when we brought her home to our brand new house. As she cried those high pitched wails longing to be next to her litter mates, I cried along with her … all the while attempting to convince Mr. Hatten we NEEDED to go back for her sibling. Because, let’s be real, how could she possibly survive without a sibling? Because one of us is the level one in our family, we opted to stick with one wiener dog in our family and the rest is a 15-year history. This girl saw us in our newly built house, she cried and cried with Cadence when we brought her home from the hospital (only after I cried hoping she would understand my continuing love for her), was an experienced wise one by the time we brought Grady home, and has seen every milestone on the books to date.

I could fill a book with stories and mannerisms that I have pocketed and will most certainly be retrieving as we move forth. So many of these stories are just plain and simple … “Signature Wiener.”

Her coat turned grey but her heart and sweet nature always remained the same. If there was a lap to be had, she was on it. If the sun was shining, she was in it. We’ve always said that the minute the snow fell, she would develop the strongest bout of Tourette’s under her breath, the filthiest of words cursing the winter.

Yesterday hurt. And today hurts. It hurt as a mother watching my kids heart-wrenchingly grieve this loss and it hurt as Mr. Hatten and I navigate our first love leaving us. And while it doesn’t feel like it right now (it really really doesn’t), I know that hurt will soften and the emptiness will turn to the warmest of memories. We will ultimately laugh at her moments and relish in the fact that she was way more than just a part of our family. I’m afraid it’s never “just a dog.” She was a chapter that is tattooed and embedded deep within me. She really is my first. I’ve been picking her up and holding her the same way for 15 years, sleeping next to her the same way for 15 years, and these last few months, we’ve been caring for her so very much as her little frame wasn’t wanting to push forth. I know this may sound a little funny, but I KNEW her body…I can feel my hands holding her underneath her chest, I can feel my left thumb within her left paw, and I know her little stature next to me. She’s missed…already so SO very missed.

In lieu of “I’m sorry for your loss,” let’s just say cheers to Lilly, to endless sunshine and baskets of warm linens. And of course, a blanket to burry under and someone to lie by. She’s sure earned it.

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