I missed the whole thing because I was busy emailing my vet about Tillie who was hiding in our bushes and not coming out.
Grayson, Abby and Andy were roasting marshmallows in our backyard fire pit when the bird landed, motionless, just a few feet away from them.
Andy called to me, "Honey. There's a dead bird here, can you come over?" like he was asking me to bring him his coffee mug.
If you've been visiting here for long, you have already guessed that I took the bird falling from the sky as an omen that Tillie wasn't going to live through the night. I am completely rational like that.
Also, I had a knot in my stomach once she fell ill because of this dream I had a month (to the day!) prior to her getting sick.
In retrospect, I should've known we were losing her but I downright refused to (for once) believe in signs.
Needless to say, I struggled with her death for many reasons. It doesn't need rehashing here. Suffice it to say there are few things I can't talk about without tearing up but Tillie is one of them. Her golden eyes drive me right back to that horrible night at the vet hospital where everything that could've gone wrong did.
(Andy's surprise anniversary gift to me. I still can hardly look at it but it helps to have her beautiful face in our home again.)
I have had trouble looking at those golden eyes in pictures ever since. It brings comfort but it also brings a slew of other things I'm not sure I know what to do with.
Andy was missing her hard too. He was the one to suggest we get another dog soon after Tillie died to help with grieving her. I wasn't ready. I said no.
Actually, I said hello no.
Then he asked again. I said no but maybe later.
And with that promise of future happy I jumped online to look at some yellow male labs for maybe later.
A few weeks of this behavior and I became obsessed with a sad faced scrappy guy I found online named Gunther. He was a flea-bitten wreck of a dog and reminded me nothing of Tillie so I had to meet him.
We went to an adoption event to find him a few days later.
"May I help you?" asked a lady holding a dear mama basset hound.
"Oh, is this Martha? I answered, wondering if maybe we could get a Martha since she was not even remotely black labbish.
"Yes, this is Martha. She is very sweet and loves everyone."
"Actually, we are here to see..." I tried to finish but a tiny powerhouse interrupted as she ran underneath Martha to greet me. This one's name was Petunia and Petunia was a chihuahua. Andy was willing to entertain a basset but never a chihuahua so we were safe.
I blissed out in dog heaven petting and shmoozing for a minute forgetting why we came.
"Honey, look ...lab." Andy pointed down the aisle. I assumed he meant Gunther so I stood up, patted Petunia and Martha one last time and mentally prepared myself to meet the reason we came.
"Oh, Hi. Yes, you are very sweet but no, we are here to see...Ohhh my goodness such kisses, Hi baby you are very lovely but I just can't...you are...oh my goodness, such love, all the kisses, Hiiiiii."
"This is Shasta," says the smiling woman who is holding a skinny female black lab. "Have you been here before? Shasta is acting like she knows you."
"Oh no, we're not...Hi Shasta, you are so sweet but we are not looking for...we are only here to..."
"Down, Shasta, down. I'm sorry, ma'am she doesn't usually do that. She is usually very shy. Are you sure you two haven't met before? She is really acting like she knows you."
Andy and I give each other a face. I bend down and whisper in Shasta's ear, "Tillie? Is that you?"
She's not. At least I don't think she is. In fact, she is not even Shasta anymore. We call her Sparrow. And Sparrow is a spitfire who has energy to waste and long deep sighful naps to take. On the couch.
Sparrow is a gift from somewhere I choose to believe in because. Because she has a feather on her chest. A feather! Because she climbed my body to give me kisses the second I was within reach and so not at all looking for a girl black lab. Because she is so funny she makes me laugh instead of cry and play instead of mope.
Plus? Sadie really likes her.
There just won't be another Tillie as long as we live so the best thing we can do is adopt another dog who needs a loving home and lots of salmon steak. Sparrow flew into our lives just when Tillie had to fly out.
See the feather?
So far it all makes plenty of sense to me.