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Learning to Grieve

The month of October was a difficult one for me. I have tried to be kind to myself through a lot of self care and allowing myself to grieve. I am devastated to share with you that my 12 year old dog Monkey went to heaven on October 1st. He had a brain tumor and his seizures were simply too much for him. It has been very painful for me to write about, but I feel it is time to share.

What I have learned and tried to accept these last few weeks is that loss is a part of life. While I wanted to push the pain away, I have allowed myself to actually feel my feelings. I have allowed myself to cry anywhere, at anytime, often times crying myself to sleep. My hope is that when you feel pain, anger or sadness about something, you can find the strength to face the pain rather than turn away or push it down for later. Learning to do this, even if messy, has brought me some peace.

His name was Monkey. He was born a dog, but many described him as human. Strangers would stop us and giggle about his unusual style. To some, he looked like a small terrier in a big dog’s body. Others called him a rockstar. To me, he was simply my Monkey Bear. For those who knew him, chances are you will never forget him.

Monkey was found on the streets of South Los Angeles in 2007.  He was scruffy, skinny and super sweet. It was love at first sight. 

Everyone who has ever loved a dog knows the joy of what our four-legged friends bring into our lives. I grew up with dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, even gerbils. Name it, we had it. I loved them all.  But Monkey was different. Monkey was THAT creature. THAT soul who crawls inside your heart and fills it with everything money cannot buy—unconditional love, trust, an easy listening ear, eyes that say everything will be okay, cuddles that melt you, and companionship that makes you feel safe.

Monkey went to heaven early last month, and even now I am still trying to wrap my head around that fact. My heart is shattered.  The house is unbelievably empty. My head still will not let me accept that he is no longer here. And like with any death, I wish I had more time to say “I love you,” or to hold and smell him once more.  

Death also helps us reflect on what was… Lately, I’ve been reflecting on the soul he was.

Monkey was the most polite dog on the planet. He was patient. He never met a stranger. He was silly. He was gentle with all dogs, big or small, and they loved him for it. He aged with grace. He was a great listener. He was known to sleep in late. He took pills like a champ. He was a great co-pilot. He didn’t beg. He had many human girlfriends. He had a bladder of steel. He liked to poop in private.  He loved to roll on his back in the grass. He would run for miles by my side. His upper lip curled up like Elvis when he got excited. He was a fantastic soccer player. He wore neckties with pride. Oh, and he loved a good party.

But most importantly, Monkey had a big, fat, over-flowing, kind heart, and those of us who were lucky enough to know him, even if briefly, will forever be affected by how he shared his heart so openly.  I will honor him by trying to do the same.   

Rest in Peace my sweet Monkey Bear.

Live in the moment. No regrets. Leave with grace. 

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