Two years ago today, I lost my best friend Kobe.
The last picture with my best friend.
Although sometimes I think of him and a tear comes to my eyes, I would never trade the pain I felt that day and after for the amazing companionship he offered me. I never had any idea how much you could love an animal, but Kobe changed that for me. He has made me a “dog person” and I know that at whatever point I am in my life, there will be a dog there beside me. I will continue to try to be the “person my dog thinks I am”, although the unconditional love a pet gives you, I wonder if that is even attainable.
His hair was always better than mine
Since Kobe had passed on, I thought back to so many memories that I had with him and how he taught me that love could be unconditional. I would often come home on his later years and find poop and pee on the floor and be upset for about two seconds. Then I would just look at him and smile and feel love. Everything was great because he was there. But the lessons that he taught me and the comfort he provided while he was alive seemingly ended as he passed. I had a ton of great memories but no more learning.
Now this might get a little weird for some but I have wanted to share this story for awhile…
In April, I was struggling quite a bit with something that had happened in my life. I wanted to feel better but it just wasn’t happening and although I had a lot of great support, I was off. Although I was still trying to do things, my heart was not there. I had a great opportunity to speak at the #140Cuse Conference at this time, and although I had full intentions of still doing my “talk”, I had no idea how I was going to make it through. Public speaking is something that I put my whole heart into, and it can be quite energy sucking, but if my heart isn’t in the right space, I can find it to be extremely tough. I went to the events the night before, mingled, chatted, but went back to my hotel room and felt the same emptiness in my gut. I was terrified of how I would look the next day on stage.
And although I had trouble sleeping for weeks, I fell asleep quite easily that night. Maybe it was exhaustion. Maybe it was the terrible EST time zone. I have no idea why but it happened.
Then came a dream.
In my dream, I was at my old house in Humboldt, Saskatchewan and just hanging outside when I realized that I had left Kobe in the house for six days by himself. Terrified and wondering if he would be okay, I rushed into the house, and opened the door to my old bedroom and then I saw him, tail wagging, excited as ever to see me. I hugged him, petted him, and just was so happy to see Kobe. It was so real that the “dream” feeling went away quickly and it was just time I was spending with my best friend again. We went for a walk, sat on the couch and watched TV, and just spent time together. It was nothing crazy but just stuff that we used to do when he was around. Kobe would always do this thing where he would sit beside me and just reach out his paw to say “hey…look at me!”, and I felt that same paw on my lap. He was just there.
I have had dreams with Kobe in them before and I would always wake up crying. I felt the opportunity to see him but then he was gone and I hated it. This time it was different though. I felt like I spent days with him and they were real and when I woke up, I had the biggest smile on my face and had just felt a calm that I hadn’t had not only in the last few weeks, but seemingly ever.
Then I went on to present and felt like I had one of the best talks that I had ever done. Interestingly enough, Kobe was a major focal point of my talk.
When I thought about the dream and what it had meant to me was that, although I had sometimes been away from those that I cared about (six days apart from Kobe), the ones that truly love you will always be there. Kobe had also taught me in that dream that I had to just sit back and enjoy those little moments that are sometimes hard in my hectic life. Although I wish I could say that I am there, I still have a lot of growing that I can do personally (don’t we all) and I often go back to that dream to help me refocus. Although he is gone, from that moment on, I always feel that Kobe is still here, popping in my head and heart to help me through times that may be tough.
I remember on the day of #140cuse, wondering if I should share my dream with the audience that day, as it would have tied in well to what I was discussing, but at that moment, I just wanted it to be mine. For all the times that I have focused on sharing, this story, at that time, was just for me. No one else.
But with the anniversary of Kobe passing, I received an email from a “stranger” this week, where he told me how he was inspired of the story of my love for my best friend:
“…one of your stories that touched me most was that of your dog Kobe. I know first hand the emotion that goes with losing a beloved pet. (I attached a picture of my Captain on his last day) I regret not having that moment to let him munch some McD’s (I thought that was awesome), my Captain left us on my 6 year old son’s birthday so you can imagine the added impact of hearing my sobbing so say “how can I have a nice birthday without Captain” ugh, I am getting teared up just thinking about this…but this is the power of Connectedness, you were able to reduce a grown man in NJ to tears by your video sharing your story. I feel it is imperative that we all (all of us connected educators) leverage the power of social media to create an avalanche on the so called education reformers, policy makers, and politicians.” Dr. David Gentile
How cool is that? The story of my love for my dog in Canada, inspiring a Superintendent in New Jersey to push education forward. If sharing my love for Kobe could have a tenth of the impact on others that it has had on me, then I am happy to continue to share it.
So two years after he has passed, he still feels like he is sitting right beside me and nudging me with his nose when I need that push to be better. Every time he comes into my dreams now, there is no more crying, but there is just happiness and peace because I know every moment that I see him, is a moment that I need to cherish.
I miss and love you buddy.
Sleep warm Kobe.