Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Peaks and Valleys

"Lindsay, listen. Listen to me," Cody said as he put his hands on my shoulders and tried to make eye contact with me under the bright moon in our backyard. "Life is made of peaks and valleys. We've been on a pretty high mountain for a long while now. This, this tonight, this is a valley. And we'll be ok. Together, we'll get out of it. This is life." He put his arms around me. My tears soaked his shirt. 

When Cody was 24 he packed up life as he knew it and moved 952 miles northeast. He didn't have family there, or good friends, but he had just accepted a job that would lead him from Stillwater, Oklahoma to East Lansing, Michigan. He got an Australian Shepherd puppy named Birdie and within one another they found trust, companionship and sheer joy in working cattle together. Birdie became a popular character at the MSU beef barn; everyone who knew the farm, knew good 'ol Birdie. Cody and Birdie faithfully - and with great fun - navigated eight years of bachelor life at Michigan State University.


Cody and Birdie on our wedding day

When I was 24 I started a journey of my own as I moved back to Indiana from Washington D.C., bought a house in the valley of Greens Fork and found a pup I named Dixie to accompany me in the cozy little home. We would visit BSG daily and I would carry her in the front pocket of my hooded sweatshirt. Dixie grew to be more faithful than she was obedient. She made messes and ran wild, but her friendly spirit and gentle heart were contagious. There was a time when I say with confidence that Dixie loved me more than I loved myself. What an incredibly patient companion to a young, single gal finding her way in the world. 

From the age of 24 on, these two dogs have been an incredibly significant part of Cody and I's lives. When friends, jobs, relationships and time came and went, Birdie and Dixie remained a constant for each of us. 

Since we met, Birdie and Dixie have gone from acting like 14-year-old resentful step-sisters

to daily playmates. Yes, they're both having fun here. 

 And here, they're in timeout for nearly breaking a lamp. 

"If you have a dog, you will most likely outlive it; 
to get a dog is to open yourself to profound joy and, prospectively, 
to equally profound sadness." 
Marjorie Garber

Last night within minutes we lost both faithful pups, Birdie and Dixie, right in front of our house. Cody and I were able to stroke their ears, say goodbye and hold them in our arms along the roadside as they passed from one exciting life to the next. He and I have never known such a helpless, heart wrenching feeling.

Remember: Life, as Cody told me last night, is made of peaks and valleys. We get out of one to move on to the other. Always.

Birdie and Dixie spent most of their time together in Greens Fork, a tiny town nestled between two hills along the river. Quite often in this valley they chased the same squirrel, fought for the same piece of brisket and brought peace and familiarity to two newlyweds entering a whole new world together. They were playful and funny and really good dogs.

And at 7:00 this morning, instead of posting a blog as I have done consistently for over three years, Cody, Momma and I laid those pups to rest on top of the greatest peak we could find. Forever, they now rest under the beloved Growing Tree.

And I bet you didn't know, under that live oak, my favorite dog is buried in the yard

So now Cody and I work through this valley and 
with broken hearts we'll move on with our lives. 
We say farewell to our best animal friends, may they enjoy the greatest peak.

And dammit, I sure hope they realize there is more than one ham bone in heaven.


  1. Great post - so sorry to hear this though ...

  2. I am sorry for your loss. Pets are family and they bring a lot of love and laughter into our lives.