This I have learned…


Mary Jo Bellner Swartzberg

She stood on the steps of the white gazebo that overlooked the serene lake and began to ruminate about the last 24 hours; a profound, heavy sadness overcame her. He was her touch stone, her confidant and her strength. She wondered how she would go on without him.

She met him ten years ago. It was love at first sight and from that day forward they were inseparable.

They could be seen running along the shoreline of the lake, and were frequently observed walking in town, where friends and strangers would stop and chat.

She had found a small apartment and soon they settled into a routine of walking in the morning, walking in the evening, then dining in or, at other times, dining out.

Photographs of their vacations adorned their apartment. She was so content. After many failed relationships she knew that she had found the answer to her prayers.

But all that changed one dreary day last fall. She woke up and Jake was not next to her. She called out, “Jake!” No answer. She ran downstairs and called his name again. Still no answer!

As she entered the kitchen she saw what she least expected. Jake was lying, limp, on the kitchen floor. She knelt down and saw that Jake was having difficulty breathing. She quickly scooped Jake into her arms, put him into her SUV and drove to the veterinary clinic. Carrying Jake through the glass sliding doors she cried out, “Help me, please!” An assistant came running to assist her. “Come with me,” she said as she hurried into an examining room. “I will get the doctor.”

After what seemed an hour the vet came in the room. “What do we have here?” He said as he gently touched Jake. “He’s my life! Please save him! He’s all I have!” The vet examined Jake. “It’s his heart,” the vet eventually said, while Jake was trying to catch a breath. “He obviously has been well-loved by you; unfortunately, there isn’t much time. Would you like to be alone with him?” Not much time? What is happening here? As the reality of the situation set in she found her voice through her tears and said weakly, “Yes…please.”

Jake’s breathing continued to falter and she came close to his face, held him and said “Jake, I will always love you! Don’t be afraid. I will be okay. You can leave if you want to.” Jake lovingly looked at her, closed his eyes and took his last breath.

She stood on the gazebo holding the urn that held Jake’s ashes. It’s the right thing to do. She walked to the shoreline and poured Jake’s ashes into the lake. She said out loud, “You loved nature, Jake, and now you are a part of it.”

She walked towards her now solitary apartment and snowflakes began to fall.

In memory of our pets…how we cherish them.

This I have learned.