I can remember back to I was in I think the first grade and we had to do a collage about what is family. We had just complete reading some book about a boy who was raise by an adopted family. We had to explore within our own experiences about what makes a family, who makes a family. Then complete a collage with a small paragraph explaining who was in the picture and what family means to us.
My collage consist of my parents, my siblings, and myself. That’s it. Other students had included an aunt or uncle, their fish or cat; I think I was the only one with just my immediate family.
I lamented that those other things could not be family, family are those people that are related to you. This did not apply to aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. However, anyone or anything else did not count. In my young mind, this rang true and there was no way around it.
If I am honest, I have these same thoughts and family well into my high school years. Until one uneventful day, this dog followed me home from the bus stop. Through caring and loving then losing, her I was able to change my mind and broaden my concept on family.
The thing about family that it is not exclusive to blood relatives. Many times the closest being to a person is a friend, colleague, or even a pet. The heart loves what the heart loves. When someone or something that is beloved, that is cherished even, becomes hurt then anything goes. Whatever must be done is done.
For instance, I had this dog. She was beautiful. Shiny black fur with a caramel brown face. Deep soulful eyes that seems to look right into your soul and comfort to the very core. She was loyal, protective, and sweet. She had the sweetest name anyone could have, Lilac. My Lilac, my lovable huggable Rottweiler. She went everywhere with me and did even everything with me. When I learn how to drive she was there, when I went to prom she came, even after the big storm of 1993 she brought smiles to those hit hard by the damages. Savannah Tree’s a great tree service business located right here in Savannah, Georgia bought her a bone for making a hard time easier on their customers. Heck, they even offer me a summer job!
I have been using the past tense when referring to her, sadly, my Lilac was poison. At the time it the worst thing to happen to me. If I am honest with myself it probably still is, although it has not never been proven I suspect it was one of my neighbors. An old and grumpy man that hates dogs. He has been recorded threatening another neighbor’s dog. Then not more than a month later, his dog, Rodney, died via poison.
Even thinking about it after all these years I become a bit choked up. She was my girl, my best friend. Just like that.
Because of that strong bond and relationship, I had with my dog open me up to value all of my relationship. A bond is not limited to family in the traditional sense. Please do not misunderstand what I am saying I do love my family. They know me better than anyone and has continuously love me without any conditions or expectations. Yes, I have been blessed in that way. However as I grow and expand my circle my family have beyond my household.
I truly believe that had I not experience that love, for there is nothing else to call, of my dog I am not sure how receptive I would be to other people trying to become close to me. It is through her I learned how to bond and care for something other than myself.