Aside from all the major events and accidents in Kiley's life, there were countless quiet, satisfying moments too. This dog had my number. She knew when to comfort me. She knew when to keep her distance. She knew how to make me laugh.
She would let out a long heavy sigh and I would unconsciously repeat the sigh. A few moments passed and Kiley would sigh back.
There was a point in time, before I was distracted by the joy of children, when I would joke that Kiley was so intune with me and my emotions that someday soon she would just up and blurt out some English.
She "did the happy dance" in front of me before going on a run. When the girls came along, she took to doing the happy dance in front of the stroller before a run. This would make both kids giggle the whole way.
As every pet owner feels, this special bond, these memories, this pocket of my happy life that included my loving animal are forever playing in my heart. I know that I cannot replace Kiley or the memories we shared together with her.
Because Shelby's old enough to realize the tragedy of losing our dog, she and I have had many conversations about what happened to Kiley. How it was an accident, no one's fault, and how Kiley is in heaven now. We have talked about how Kiley isn't coming back to sleep at the foot of her bed.
We framed a beautiful picture of Kiley and put it up in the living room. We have a plant dedicated to her memory that we will plant in the yard. Shelby has suggested we return to Kiley's grave and decorate it with flowers (which I think is a brilliant suggestion just as soon as I can pull myself together for it).
And we've made a habit of recognizing the army of fleas in our house as Kiley's "itchy kisses" for us to remember her by. Every day gets a little easier.
I'm not sure I will ever pull into my driveway without expecting to see her tail wagging a greeting from the yard. That's going to be hard to forget.