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A Love Letter to Lili

Lili Doxie
By Judy Greenwald

My precious doxie Lili has crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. The death of one little dog seems insignificant in the totality of the world’s latest disasters, but to me her death is part of my personal world that is permanently gone. Her heart was so full of love and giving to others that it just wore out after 16 years.

The silence and emptiness in my house is devastating. The shock has overwhelmed me and punched me into a state of sickening numbness and grief. I am totally stunned by the depth of my profound sadness.

For 16 years since I went to Starksboro and saw this adorable puppy with a gray “J” shape on her back we have rarely been apart and did most everything together.

Our daily outings took us to the Peace Park, Berlin Pond, Hubbard Park and the rec field, Wrightsville Dam, Nelson Pond, the college green, or visiting our neighbors on Sunset Drive.

Lili spread joy to all who came in contact with her — human and dogs alike. She had daily greetings, barks, gyrations, and furious tail waggings for Vicky — her early pup days dog walker. She was a small giant among huge giants — a tiny dachshund in the midst of retrievers, labs, collies, etc. She reserved greetings for shopkeepers downtown, cashiers at our bank, friends and neighbors, even strangers, chickens, cows, goats, yellow canines Zeppo and Roy. Her short little legs and soulful eyes invited immediate touching and petting.

Our love for each other was complete and unwavering — no holds barred.

“I felt the same spiritual comfort holding a leash that others feel holding a rosary,” said novelist Susan Conant. With that leash in my hand and Lili by my side, something magical happened. I felt the spirit in the sky and all was OK — my well-being assured despite my 88 years. Her consistency over the years made me feel joyful, soothed, and connected to others.

Lili taught me so many things about everyday living. She showed me that patience, understanding, kindness, and consistency succeed much better than intimidation. She let me know that it’s OK to look utterly ridiculous as she lay on the couch on her back with her legs splayed out in all directions. She taught me that a relationship doesn’t have to be walking on eggshells, held back and under wraps, protected against vulnerability and disappointment. We can be fearless, expressive, and unrestrained. She never judged me when I stumbled across one of life’s petty barriers. She would communicate with me directly from her soul through those expressive eyes.

I looked forward to each and every day with her whether we were going on a great adventure or just having a Zen experience sitting and looking at the changing colors of nature in some tranquil setting. She taught me about giving gracefully even as doctors’ appointments increased and driving was now outlawed.

After slowing down considerably this past year, sleeping her days away, and barely eating, it was obvious her joy of life had declined. 

We tried to solve her problem together. The sky darkened, a little rain fell, and then the sun came out in all its brilliance! That was Lili immediately romping with Zeppo, Toby, Bridgette, Daisy, Maroon, Biscuit, and Yago wondering why we were all so sad down here.

Can I do it again? Can I love another dog with such intensity? I don’t think so, but I will try eventually after many, many months. After all, I’m a dog person.

I hope to be able to look back on my life with Lili, not with such sadness that I feel now, but as an illustration of love between two of God’s creatures. I can never replace my feelings for Lili, but I think I can offer my heart to another needy soul.

Judy Greenwald is part of The Bridge’s early history in the 1990s. She was part of the founding team and sold ads and wrote occasional articles.