Dear Sophie -
It's Friday afternoon and I should have already picked you up from school. We had big plans tonight...Red Robin and swimming and surely some ice cream thrown in there. A movie and some snuggle time and just another perfectly perfect Friday night ladies night.
But those plans won't work out tonight.
In your short life, you've had two dogs and three great grandparents die. But those loses have all come at a time where you couldn't really process it.
The day your daddy and I brought you home from the hospital, you had three goofy dogs waiting to welcome you home. Anakin, Sasha and Charlie. And immediately, these three took shifts around the clock, guarding your every move. They taught you to crawl (I'm convinced!) and let you climb all over them. When you went to bed, so did they. When your eyes popped open in the morning, their ears perked up.
Your first Christmas, I took you to see great grandma and grandpa butler. Oh Sophie...how they LOVED you! You were the belle of the Christmas ball. They held you and danced with you, and your eyes shined with excitement, taking in the glittering lights. That Christmas night, Grandpa Butler went home to Jesus.
The months went on and we started to get excited for your first birthday. But then my grandaddy got sick. And a week later, just 5 days before we celebrated your big day, he was gone. A week after that, Sasha wasn't in your room when you woke up, so we went downstairs to find her. She had passed in her sleep, and four months later, a week after Christmas, Charlie was gone too.
To say that was a rough year is an understatement. Not too much time passed before Grandma Butler got her call home too. And your daddy and I were left without any of our grandparents, and just one little dog...Anakin.
It's really been the last two years where you and Anakin have become inseparable. Lacking a sibling, you adopted Anakin as your brother. You dressed him up and he slept in your bed and you were the best of friends.
And it all started to worry your daddy and me. Because, when Anakin was gone...we knew you would be heartbroken. So, we started talking about getting another dog. Someone who could integrate well into our family. A friend for Anakin, and a playmate for you.
Just when I thought we might never find the perfect dog, he came running (literally) into our lives. A stray your daddy rescued at work that we named Blue has become the heart of our little family. From the minute we wake until the last Hill is safely tucked in bed, our love and attention spills out on this little guy. None of us can stand to be away from home long and Blue himself cries when our family leaves. He is, quite simply, the perfect dog for us.
But he's been sick. Really, really sick. We've done so much to help him get better and it seemed like he was...
But now he's taken a sharp turn for the worse. And I sit here facing the very real possibility that he might not make it through the weekend, let alone a lifetime of growing up with you. I am gutted.
Because as much as I love this dog (and I do LOVE this dog), my love for you is that much greater. I want to protect you from this, shelter you from the pain that comes with telling a four year old her dog might die. Or worse, to have to tell you he did die. How sweet love of mine? How will I tell you and keep it from hurting you so deeply that the pain stays with you and changes a piece of who you are? Your whole life right now is wrapped up in this dog.
There's a piece of me that feels foolish. This is just a dog. There are thousands of children starving to death in Africa as I write these words, and yet...I ache for this dog. Everyday your daddy comes home from work and I breathe a deep sigh of relief and think "another day. we made it through another day and he's here and I don't have to tell her that daddy's not coming home..." and yet I still cry for this dog.
So, I do what I can and try to keep him strong enough to fight a disease that has no cure and limited treatment and I wrap hearts in bubble wrap to cushion the impact and I pray. Because ultimately, there is nothing greater I can do in this situation than pray.
So tonight, we'll stay home and watch movies and love on our puppy. There will be ice cream and maybe that's all we'll eat for dinner, actually. And treats for Blue...lots of treats for Blue.
So what's the life lesson here, my sweet girl? I'm not sure yet...I have a feeling there might be one for both of us. But not matter what, you are completely and totally beloved. And I hope you remember what it's like to be a little girl who loves her puppy for the rest of your life. Because I've never seen anything more pure and beautiful in my entire life. I love you, sweet girl.