I find myself on the start of a fresh line of a new phrase reveling in then end of the most beautiful parentheses in my life’s journey.

Abbey came crashing into my life on a usual rainy Gig Harbor day on April 11th, 2003. She, shaken and bruised, all 2 pounds and several ounces of puppy fuzz. Me, shaken and bruised from self inflicted emotional wounds in sharp reaction to an imperfect environment. I held that sweet puppy that day as if my life depended upon it as much as hers did. She was so fragile and yet self-sufficient in some way. “Put her down, do whatever you have to, she was an accident” a tall and hardened man scolded as he lay her in my arms. “Her mother, a decorated Siberian husky, refuses to feed her and shook her hard this morning, pretty certain she was knocked up by the neighbors german Shepard, I don’t know if she will make it,” he told me sternly.

At that time I was 17 years old. I had somehow convinced my mom and subsequently high school at the time to allow me to earn school credit for my part-time work at a Veterinary clinic. I could tolerate life this way. Going to school only three days a week and spending hours with animals, learning what felt like real skills. It was nice to have other adults who seemed at least somewhat interested in me and cared to show me how I might one day be an adult in my own.

After spending the day carrying around this sweet fuzzy puppy under my arm as I went about other tasks and learning to bottle feed her, the man stopped back by at the end of the day, surprised to learn the puppy would live and only has minor bruising. I stood calmly behind the reception desk as the man received the news, he looked up and with honestly stated,”I work as a mechanic all day, I can’t feed a puppy at all hours. Just put it down or whatever you have to do.” I heard myself speak up before any thoughts had concretely formed, “Can I have her? She is so sweet and I have just learned to care for her.” The man, still dirty from a hard days work, replied “sure, kid” in a half laugh.

Abbey took a bottle of puppy formula every three hours, a stark and rigid contrast to my free flowing lonely life of smoking weed, ditching school, and hanging out around the periphery of friends. She would whimper and wasn’t close to sleeping through the night. She tuck her nose into my shirt and would fall into a deep sleep on my lap.

Suddenly I found myself responsible for something else.

We grew together.

Raised each other.

And eventually, launch each other into life.

For once in my life, I found a clear direction; provide a life for Abbey.

And over the past 16 years, that is what I did. I went to college, worked, and found a career in hopes of providing for her.

So when she passed away, sounded by those her loved her most, in the green grass, on a sunny May afternoon the parentheses on this part of my life closed. And while I know her spirit is forever with me, it has left an enormous void that I focus on filling each day with gratitude for the incredible journey of this sweet fuzzy puppy who raised me just as much as I raised her.