Daisy’s last meal was pancakes, griddle-fried, golden brown. My wife Miska sat on the floor and hand-fed her, bite by bite. This was Daisy’s vision of heaven. Her entire life, she’d stalk us every moment we spent in the kitchen, hoping against hope that some small scrap would fall her way. When our family gathered for dinner, she’d crawl under the table and wait, like a cougar crouched in high grass eyeing prey, for any morsel to drop. More than once, she snagged an entire pizza when we weren’t looking, scarfing the whole pie in a few ferocious gulps. Hearing the pizza box hit the floor, followed immediately by the sound of a crocodile ripping a wildebeest to shreds, we’d sprint back into the room. Too late. The box licked clean. Daisy, head low in shame, skulking into the corner. She’d avoid us for a few minutes, then come nuzzle up next to us, saying sorry, though we all knew good and well she’d do it again. She could not help herself.
Miska fed Daisy pancakes while the whole family gathered round. We took turns laying down beside her, running our fingers through her hair, telling our favorite Daisy stories. We’d have bought her a dozen pizzas if we had thought it would help.
For years, Daisy was my running buddy. Four to five times a week, we’d pound the pavement. As soon as I pulled out the leash, she’d get giddy. I swear she was beaming with each stride. So far as I know, she never heard of Eric Liddell, but I’m certain that when she ran, she felt God’s pleasure.
Truthfully, life with Daisy was at times a pain in my backside. Once I had to dive into the Gulf of Mexico because Daisy, who loved water, was hitting a serious doggy stroke, straight out into the wide ocean. If I’d seen her a minute or two later, I’d never have reached her. Cuba or bust. Once she gobbled our nephew’s canister of floss, the mint-flavored string wrapped her intestines, turning her stomach into a jumbled mess, like those strands of Christmas lights we pull out each year. $1800 later, she was home and healthy, watching for pizza.
But she wasn’t healthy anymore. We stayed with Daisy as she closed her eyes that final time. Tears aplenty. We held her long after she was gone.
And I’m realizing how we’re still holding her now. I’m not telling you this story so you will love Daisy as we do, but because it’s important to remember that love transforms us in ways we cannot calculate. The love our family had for Daisy enlarged us, made us more human, opened us to other kinds of love—for other creatures, for more of the world, for one another. And now that Daisy is gone, that love lives on. Love is a potent, generative force. Embrace it. Welcome it. Give it away.