And then it wasn't.
On May 13, 2004 my dear dad took his last breath and passed away. He went quickly and peacefully, and at the last moment raised his arm up as if someone were reaching for him. I like to think that it might have been his own father who had died when he was a little boy and whom he said was the first person he hoped to see on the other side.
That first year after Dad's death was a bit of a blur, to be honest. I remember Chrissy living here with me and our friend Kavanaugh coming for chicken and vegetable dinners a few times, and the two of them ribbing me about whatever silly shenanigans I had been up to.
Sometime during this year I got the bright idea to get a dog, and I decided to get a Jack Russell Terrier from Ireland. I had always loved Eddie on Frasier, and the idea of paying thousands of dollars for a special Irish Jack Russell terrier, its travel to the US, and all of the expenses for its special companion person to travel with and then stay and acclimate said Irish Jack Russell made perfect sense to me.
What can I say?
I never really was the brightest bulb in the chandelier.
Fortunately, both Kavanaugh and my sister put the kabosh on that. I think their exact words were "Are you out of your bleepity bleeping mind?!?!", and I started to look elsewhere.
I found a breeder of Jack Russell terriers right here in Hoosierville. And not just any old Jack Russell terriers...these were Shorty Jacks. Also known as Puddin' Jacks. And the website for this breeder...whimsically called Willowswamp Farm, told the story of a man named Rex who had fallen in love with Shorty Jacks when he was five or six years old, and how his farm was full of the most loveable, nicely tempered, well behaved little dogs ever put on the planet.
So I sent Rex an email, and his response changed my life forever.
On July 6, Chrissy and I drove my little blue car through the cornfields of Ligonier, Indiana (literally...right through the cornfields...because I missed a turn and thought the tractor path was the only way to get to Willowswamp) and I met the love of my life. I picked him up, said "I'm your Mommie", kissed his little nose, smelled his perfect puppy breath, and was a complete and total goner.
Life without Stewey is different, but for the first time in a very long while I feel like I'm going to be OK. My heart still physically hurts from missing him so, but I'm convinced that he was here for a reason and my memories of him will sustain me through even the darkest days. The outpouring of love that I've been blessed with is all him...I know it to be true...and I am sure that if he were here he would be as humbled and profoundly grateful for it as I am.
Happy Birthday, Stewey Little. I couldn't have loved you more if I had given birth to you myself. Thank you for being my BabyDear, and rest easy that your Mommie is going to be OK thanks to this family you sent here to look out for me.
P.S. I know that last picture isn't one of your favorites because it is from your "chubby period", but it's the only one I have of you with one of your Aunt Chrissy birthday daisies.