In the end you think of the beginning.

I learned yesterday that my dog, Pawley, has cancer. And as I sat in my hot car, listening to the vet use medical terms to describe the thing that will take away something I love, I wasn’t thinking about the disease. I was thinking about the day Pawley came home with me nine years ago. The way her bright white paws had looked so tiny in my hands.

When my dog Rosie died last year, she’d been very sick for several weeks before the end. And so at night, while I scratched her ears beside me in bed, I’d tell her stories of when she was a puppy. “Do you remember the first time you saw the ocean? The way you rushed in before you realized the waves were taller than you?”

In the days after I learned that Michiel died, I didn’t think of the thousands of conversations we’d had in recent weeks and months. I thought of our first day together. How it had been the summer solstice in Seattle and twilight had lingered until almost midnight. Like God stretched out time just for us—a gift for two friends whose time together would ultimately be cut too short.

When I texted a friend yesterday to tell her about Pawley, she responded “that is too much.” And that seemed about right. It is too much, isn’t it? From illness and poverty to racism and loss, there is so much in our world right now that is just too much.

I think it’s why my mind returns to beginnings. The present is too much. And those early moments are so good and pure because you can’t even imagine the heartbreak of ends like these.

So, that’s where I am now. Living in the too much and loving Pawley in the right now, but thinking of happy beginnings with tiny paws and a whole lifetime ahead.

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