Another book signing at Anderson's! Shoutout to Lauren Conrad for being super sweet and for getting adorably flustered when I asked her to pick her favorite Disney movie. 😁 Thank-you so much for inviting me, Rach!! 📚💕
Thursday, March 31, 2016
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
"So long my friend, until we meet again..."
When I was 8 my dad took me to a shelter and said we were "just looking, for fun". Little did I know, we'd be returning to that same shelter later that evening to go pick up the very same ankle biter that had enjoyed chewing on my shoelaces just a few hours prior.
It's strange how much dogs can impact our lives. Storm ended up doing more for me than I realized he would.
Later that same year my family moved. It was hard for me- I missed my friends and I was going to a new school. On my first day, I realized that everyone at school knew each other from the year before...it was hard. I felt like an outsider. I didn't think anyone could understand how I felt, and yet, someone did. Storm moved from the shelter, to our house in Willow, to our new house in Lemont...all within a year. He knew exactly what it was like to be uprooted and moved around.
The thing that made that school year easier was Storm. Every day after school we went on a walk together. No matter how difficult or lonely the school day may have been, walking with him always brightened my spirits. I told him about my day, complained if I needed to, and told him my secrets. He was always eager to walk for as long as I needed and never failed to listen with a happy heart.
Storm, whether he knew it or not, encouraged me to never lose hope. I knew that if he could stay positive about all this moving business, than I could too. Dogs are wonderful role models for people. No other creature on this Earth could go through so much misery and still bounce onward, tail wagging.
When I learned my buddy's time was coming to a close, I decided not to waste a moment of it. On Monday after work I walked inside, leash in hand. Storm remained laying down, assuming I was going to take out Sookie. He was delightedly surprised when I instead came to him and clipped the leash on. The two of us haven't walked together in probably almost a year now, due to his growing fatigue and bad legs. But today was different.
We drove a short distance to the park nearby my house and instantly started to walk. My 13 year old dog bounded forward at almost a trot, looking so much like the energetic puppy I remembered. As we reached the field I undid his leash and stepped back. Storm wandered a short distance away, only to stop and stare back at me in confusion. In all the years we'd gone on walks I'd never taken off his leash. But like I said, today was different.
He led the way around the field, sniffing all the new smells and attempting to chase after the birds. All the while he continued to glance back at me every so often, to ensure I was still following. As he tired, more quickly than he used to, he returned to my side to catch his breath. We sat there for awhile, enjoying the fresh breeze and watching the setting sun. I couldn't have asked for anything to make that moment more perfect.
When it was finally time to head home he led the way to the car, never straying too far ahead. On the ride home he leaned against me and panted happily. His eyes seemed to say, "Thank you. I missed our walks together." I'd missed them, too.
After work yesterday I prepared his dinner- fresh ham mixed in with all his favorite treats. I haven't seen him eat so quickly in awhile! After he was full, I set up a comfy blanket on the floor and settled down to camp out with him for the night. As I laid there beside him, memories came to me of the many times I had passed out beside him on the floor as a kid after a long day of play.
This morning seemed to go by too quickly. We laid together for awhile before it was time to head out. Mom and I loaded him into the van and left for the vet. In the car he was a little afraid and I got a bit upset; I didn't want his last moments to be in unease or fear. However, Storm was there for me...even when I was supposed to be the one there for him. He settled himself down and curled up against my legs, offering me licks and kisses whenever he felt I needed them.
In the room we waited for the doctor and still he was nothing but calm. I gave him lots of hugs and again he seemed to be comforting me more than I was comforting him. When it was time we sat beside him and whispered soothing words. As the doctor prepared I felt myself filling with both grief and guilt. How could I be doing this to him? To my best friend? I felt like I was betraying him. He trusted me to take care of him and I'd taken him here.
As the doctor began, Storm turned and rested his head in my hands. He was completely relaxed as he looked up into my eyes. And that gaze, to my surprise, held nothing but love and understanding. He knew what was happening and he accepted it. He knew his time has come to a close. He was old now and his bones ached. It was his time to go and he didn't blame me for that.
I held onto him as his head grew heavy and his eyes got groggy. He never looked away the entire time. His eyes said more than my words ever could: "I love you. I'll miss you. Don't be sad. Don't worry, I'll be watching over you always. Thank you for everything." It warms my heart to know that he got to look upon his best friend for his last moments. After he had drifted off I gently set his head down into my lap. He looked so peaceful; if you didn't know it, you'd think he were simply sleeping.
I couldn't have asked for a more loving, caring dog. He looked after me his whole life, start to finish. He took care of me as a young girl, when I was lonely and uncertain. And he took care of me in his last moments, when I was grown and needing comfort. I feel so blessed to have been lucky enough to share in his life with him. I hope I was able to do even a fraction of the amount of things he did for me.
I love you Stormy, now and forever. Thank you for always being there for me. I'll miss you buddy.
Storm "Cloud" Gembara
November 2002 - March 2016