On Grief, Gratitude, Meaning & Community

On the evening of Tuesday, August 15th I was notified that my book Homecoming was live and ready for purchase on Amazon.

Less than four days later, in the early afternoon of Saturday, August 19th, we had to say our final goodbye to our beloved Sophie. Our companion for 14 ½ years. My soul mate and teacher. 

The house feels so quiet now. There are no snorts to listen for in the morning or the sound of her nails tap dancing across the floor. No one who comes to nudge me that it’s time to step away from the computer and take a break. For the last several weeks, we would often sit outside in the mornings and evenings, when the heat of the Texas sun wasn’t too oppressive; now I sit and stare at the grass where she ought to be. I long to bury my nose in her sweet, warm fur. To smell her ears and paws one more time.

I know that she waited to see Homecoming be birthed into the world before she began her own homecoming journey. Even while writing and editing the book I couldn’t fully see how this journey, this story, was not solely my own; it was our journey. This spiral began and ended with my beloved girl. 

She ignited my heart essence at a time when I sorely needed it. When I had forgotten my pure love of life. The section in my book titled The Awakening begins with the tale of how Sophie and I found one another. 

There are so many stories that I would love to share about my girl, but today I am going to choose one that has reminded me that even amidst the pain of heartbreak there is such beauty and magic in the world (and that ties into a recent experience I had).

This is a love story.

A love story between Sophie and our elderly neighbor in Austin, Edna. 

We had already lived next door to one another for a couple of years when this love affair began. Life carries its own divine timing. 

Sophie had recently recovered from surgery to repair a torn ACL and Edna was grieving a significant loss in her life. It felt as if Sophie knew that Edna was in need of love and joy to help heal her broken heart, and Sophie brought that love and joy in spades. 

There was only a chain link fence that separated our two backyards and every afternoon, Edna would come out and call, “Sophie! Sophie!!”, with treats in her pockets. Sophie could not control herself and I would have to drop everything that I was doing to let her outside immediately to see her friend; she would howl with joy. I never heard her make that sound after we left Austin. 

This was our daily ritual for more than two years. Treats and love and conversation at the fence line. 

I could see how they were bringing each other back to life. 

And I received such delight from simply watching the two of them delight in one another. 

Now, the shoe is on the other foot. 

The last couple of weeks I have been waking up early and going for morning walks. A few days after Sophie’s passing, Dave, an older gentleman who lives a couple of streets down, was outside with his little doggie. (I have walked this same route countless times and have never run into them before…again, divine timing.) This tiny creature spotted me from across the cul-de-sac, we locked eyes, and then she ran at top speed straight for me. 

Her name is Chicklet and she’s only five months old; this sweet couple adopted her earlier this year after losing their 14-year-old doggie companion. 

Tears were running down my cheeks, mixing with laughter, as she zoomed towards me and away from me. Flopped over on my feet for belly rubs. Puppy-gnawed on my fingers the way that Sophie used to do when she was little. 

“Thank you, you made my morning,” I said to both Dave and Chicklet, my eyes moist. “I really needed this dose of puppy medicine.”

“You can come by and see her anytime you like.”

He meant it, and I have. He’s even brought her out to say hi, just for me.

I can feel how this little wild and rambunctious creature is helping to tend my broken heart and bringing me back to life, much in the same way that Sophie and Edna connected all those years ago. 

Back then I felt strong and certain, comfortable in my role of giver and caretaker. Offering love to an elderly neighbor who was grieving.

Now I am the one in need of help and healing. My heart feels soft and tender, and I am receiving such love and care from a complete stranger and his tiny, four-legged companion.

I can’t help but feel that Sophie has a hand, or paw, in this. 

Reminding me of the beauty in allowing ourselves to be cared for. How community and relationship requires us to depend upon one another. To not only show up as strong and giving, but also as vulnerable and in need of receiving.

This is the glue that binds us to one another. 

This is how we navigate the highs and lows of life.




In memory of my beloved soul companion. Thank you, Sophie, for the countless hours of chicken games, your mischievous nature, your exuberant joy, all of the snuggles, and everything that you gave to me in our years together. I hope I gave you a fraction of what I received. Till we meet again, dear friend.