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December 15, 2020

A Dog named Romeo: Lessons in Love, Loss & Surviving Uncertainty.  

Ever since I was a child, I craved having a pet dog.

I would run to random dogs on the streets and play with them. I would feed stray dogs whenever I could, and spend hours with my relatives’ pet dogs. Just their presence always filled my heart with so much warmth and joy.

For me, a dog is a bundle of unconditional love. I would do anything to just spend a little time with a canine whenever I could.

It took me 20 years to finally get my own little powerhouse of love and affection. My little brother, my eternal friend, my baby beagle: Romeo.

We got him during the most eventful years of my life: final years of college, planning my career, doing internships, building a social group, and much more. My plate was full, but everything became smaller in comparison to this new life that came into ours.

Any dog parent will understand the process of growing up with their pet. From the late-night whimpers to the chasing after bath time to trying out new diets to taking them for vaccinations. It’s a journey that comes with so much labor, but it’s all about love.

Countless times, I was overwhelmed by how much I had to sacrifice or be accountable for when it came to Romeo. Even my parents had changed their entire life to accommodate him.

But what we got in return was massive in comparison to the outings we missed, the cleanups we did, or the clothes or furniture that got ruined.

We had this little four-legged creature who was everything to everyone. He was my little brother, my companion who would stay up with me while I studied or who would simply sit next to me in silence when I was having a low day. He was my parents’ cheerleader.

I was always amazed by how intuitive he was. One look and he would know what was going on in my mind. One word and he would understand that I needed him to be quiet, obedient, or just not make a mess. More importantly, he would always know exactly what to do. He would know when to play, when to sit down, and when to turn into the cute ball of mush.

Probably every dog is this intuitive, but I always thought he was special. As if he came into my life to change me for the better, to be stronger and more fearless. Because one day, I would have to be all these things without him. And it was as if he knew his time was limited.

No movie scene or novel can ever prepare anyone for tragedy. I remember weeping like a child whenever I would see “Marley and Me,” especially the ending.

To say goodbye to a friend, a brother, or another family member is tough. It takes a lot of time to accept sudden losses. I’m still not sure I’ve gotten over the fact that the puppy who had his first nap on my lap when he came home also breathed his last breath on my lap. It gives me some peace to know that I held his little paws in my hands throughout his entire lifetime.

Romeo was always there by my side in my most confusing years as a young adult. He saw me make colossal mistakes and repent, he sat quietly with me with his paw on my lap when I felt depressed, and he played with me like a small puppy every time I returned home from college, an outing, or work.

He taught me to embrace uncertainty.

Each day since he left us unexpectedly, I have missed him. I have missed him immensely on days I have struggled; I have missed him on days that I have felt so much joy that I wanted to share it with him. I have missed him when I have done well in my studies or jobs.

But most importantly, I have missed him at my wedding. I would have given anything imaginable to have him by my side and just sit with me in silence with his paw on my lap while I was on the cusp of changing my life.

I firmly believe that those who love us never really leave us. He will always be part of my life. Even now, whenever I am facing chaotic situations, I can pick myself up and keep moving forward—even if I don’t have his paw on my lap. I smile, love, and laugh knowing that he is somewhere up there waving his paw at me.

I feel that for the brief three and a half years that I had him, he gave me a lifetime of love. I will always have a piece of him wherever I go—even if it is just a memory.

He will always be my baby brother and my eternal angel.

~

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Radhika Sahi Kaur  |  Contribution: 4,200

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