In your lifetime, you’ll have one true best friend. This is the friend you grew up with. The friend sitting by your side during holidays each year, patiently watching as you opened toys, then cells phones, then furniture for your dorm room. The friend that cuddled with you when you felt your heart break for the first time, and anxiously awaited your return every time you left for a day or a semester of school.
When you met this friend, you had no idea the impact it would have on your life. You didn’t realize that the sound of this friend walking around your house would be music to your ears, or that you could be so content watching television and playing pointless games with him or her. This friend made you laugh when all you wanted to do was cry, and he or she would listen to your stories, no matter how long, without judgment. Even though you didn’t always get along, you always forgave each other, no matter what. Never will you meet a friend who can look into your eyes and trust you completely, the way this friend did. This friend accepted your other friends as his or her own, and stood up for you in times of crisis. They were over joyed by the sheer fact that you walked into the room. They were the epitome of what a friend should be.
This friend was your childhood pet.
A lot of us were lucky enough to grow up with one, and we never fully appreciated how important he or she was. This pet became our family, like a sibling as vital to our household as a brother or a sister. We included our pet in Christmas card pictures. We threw our pet birthday parties, even making him or her wear a party hat (which he or she hated). We dressed our pet up in sports jerseys and costumes and couldn’t help but love the look he or she gave us when we made him wear a bow tie or her a tutu.
We played games with our pet when we were young and never hesitated to give him or her a lick from our cone, or sneak him or her the Brussels sprouts from our plate. We’d dance to all the coolest songs together, and our pet would help us decide if the person we were dating was worthy. In the blink of an eye, we got older and sadly, so did our pet. It happened so slowly that we almost didn’t even realize. Our friend started playing with us less. He or she starting walking with a limp, and gray hairs replaced our pet’s original coat.
Most of these friends of ours have reached old age, or have already left this world. But that doesn’t change the lessons they taught us or the impact they had on our lives. We learned about responsibility and how to be reliable. We realized the importance of forgiveness and kindness. But most of all, we experienced love. We experienced love in a form so pure and beautiful that it changed us for the rest of our lives. We got to see firsthand what unwavering love is like, because that is exactly what these friends had: unwavering love for us, and an unwavering love for life. From appreciating the littlest things, like having a meal in the evening, to enjoying the sights and smells of the world, these friends knew more about life, love, and forgiveness than most of us will ever understand.
Take the lessons your pet gave you and practice them every day. Enjoy every single blessing you have: the ability to run and play, the fact that you get to breathe air into your lungs this very moment, the meal that awaits you each and every evening. Above all, remember to love, because if there is one thing your pet gave you, it was the ability to provide pure, unwavering love.
Rest in peace to all of our furry best friends. .