Yesterday, without warning or any signs, my beautiful dog Cordelia suffered a seizure. It happened sometime after 10am, and I noticed it when I got up to let her outside for the second time that morning. She had lost all balance, couldn’t really walk, and when I did get her outside she started having convulsions and threw up. I didn’t know what to do, which is weird because I have been trained in emergency management in past jobs and positions. Usually, I am the one calm during a crisis, but not on this day.
Cordelia came into my life almost 10 years ago. By every fact I had no right owning a dog at the time. I was an absolute wreck of a human being. I was going through a terrible divorce, I had almost no money to my name, and I was emotionally all over the place. But I was living in a house that was 1800 square feet all by myself and I was very lonely.
One morning I saw a Craigslist ad with a few pictures of Cordelia. The ad read that she was free to the 1st male she liked. Given that, at the time I couldn’t afford adoption fees a free dog sounded great. So I got in my car and started to drive, but with each passing mile this little voice in my head started telling me what a terrible idea this was. At one point I even pulled over to the side of the road, and debated turning around, but I didn’t.
When I got there her current owners opened the door of their home and out trotted Cordelia. She ran down the steps and I still remember her running down the dirt driveway to meet me. Her current owners told me how two other males had come before myself, and Cordelia wanted nothing to do with them, but she clearly liked me so she was mine. They never really explained why they were getting rid of her, other then to say that they didn’t have the time to care for her because of their children.
So I coaxed Cordelia into my car and we drove home. That was the day she became mine.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I had no idea the impact Cordelia would have on my life. Before Cordelia I was in a pretty dark place. I wasn’t eating, and pretty much slept all day. Over the course of a few weeks I had lost 20lbs just due to not eating anything. But now I had this little fur ball to take care of. In the mornings she would jump on me to wake me up and tell me it was time to go outside. She accompanied me to Geek and Gamer Fitness, my gym, and would lay comfortably in one corner or another while I taught group classes. She was mine and she was rarely far away from me.
Eventually my time in WA came to a close and Cordelia and I packed up all our things and moved to sunny southern CA, but when we got there things did not feel right, so when the opportunity to go on a month long road trip popped up she and I packed a bag, jumped into the car and headed out to explore. We hit up Mammoth, Bear Mountain, The Grand Tetons, Yosemite, Moab, and even Vegas. We hiked up mountains, splashed through rivers, and slept out under the stars with a fire going. It was absolutely perfect.
Eventually, however, we had to return back to the real world. I was out of money, again, and so I needed to get back and earn some money so the two of us could eat. I took some weird jobs here and there, but no matter what I did, every night when I came home from work she would be there to greet me with her big tail wagging.
After awhile one of those jobs asked me to move to FL, and I took the opportunity. Cordelia and I packed up what I had, which wasn’t much at the time. 9 boxes of books, 2 trash bags of clothes, a mattress, and a couple nick knacks and assorted keep sakes. It wasn’t anything anyone would be impressed with, but we hit the road and drove cross country till we reached Jacksonville FL.
The job I had taken in Jacksonville turned out to be kind of a scam, and the apartment we were living in was not in the greatest neighborhood, but some of my favorite memories are in that tiny little bedroom, with Cordelia on the bed laying next to me while I read one of my many books. It was just me and her…until it wasn’t.
I don’t think either one of us expected what happened next, but suddenly there was Leslie. She didn’t care that I was a messed up, emotionally fragile, broke, man. She saw a cute guy that she liked, and a beautiful puppy that she immediately loved. She didn’t ask anything of either one of us. She loved us as we were, even when we were homeless, penniless, and damaged she loved us. Leslie brought us into her life, and introduced us to her parents, Edna & Ruban, and they too didn’t care about any of our flaws. They saw two souls who had each other, and just wanted to be a part of their lives.
One Christmas we were visiting Edna & Ruban and Edna had decorated for the holidays. This meant that she had several nativity sets spread out all over the house, including the living room table. Now Cordelia loved Edna and Ruban and this meant that her tail was wagging. He big giant fluffy tail that had a mind of it’s own, and before anyone could stop it her tail hit one of Ednas nativity sets and it crashed to the floor and broke. I was mortified, as was Leslie, Cordelia had no idea what happened, and was just confused why no one was petting her. Edna being the woman she is told us not to worry. She swept up the broken pieces, hugged both myself and Cordelia and told us that we were more important then any decoration.
We had found our family. People who loved us and cared for us regardless of our past, our mistakes, and our flaws.
Over the years Edna and Ruban have taken in and cared for Cordelia when Leslie and I were out of town. They loved her as her own, and were always willing and excited to take care of her and see her. They will never know how much their love has meant over the years.
In 2019 Leslie and I decided to get married in a small ceremony here in Orlando. We invited only our immediate family and a few close personal friends. As was right and fitting Cordelia was our Flower Girl, and we had even made a small flower ring for her to wear. During the ceremony we asked our friends Chad and Carrie to hold Cordelia while we got married, but Cordelia was not happy about this. She made it very clear that she was going to stand up there, together with her people, and no one was going to stop her. So there we were…What started out as just me, and then Cordelia, suddenly became three. We were a family. We were whole.
Leslie and I have so many memories of Cordelia. Most of the photos on our phones are of her, and we have enjoyed every single moment we got to spend with her. She was loved by so many people and she happily accepted pets from anyone who was willing to offer them to her. She has been one of the best things that has ever come into my life, and I can honestly say that she saved me. She loved me when I was absolutely unlovable, and she didn’t care. I was hers, and she protected me.
When the time came it was swift, sudden, and unexpected. Leslie and I held her close and told her how much we loved her as the drugs took effect and she crossed over.
Now me, personally, I am not sure if I believe in any kind of afterlife, but I remember a story of a man who lost his dog to death. After his dogs death there was a hole left in his heart that was never really ever filled, and he carried that hole with him for the rest of his life. When the man finally died and crossed over to the other side he was greeted by an angel who smiled and said that he was glad the man was finally there, because someone had been waiting for him, and with that the man looked up and saw his dog running towards him. After so long apart they were finally together again and the hole in his heart was filled.
If there is an afterlife, I really hope that Cordelia will be there waiting for me on the other side. She has left a hole in the hearts of me and Leslie that I don’t think will ever be able to be filled, but maybe, just maybe someday, Leslie and I can see her running towards us after a long time waiting.
I miss you girl, and I hope you know how much I loved you. Thank you for saving me.