No two friends could have been closer. They did everything together. Whether helping each other lose weight, going to Walmart or traveling to visit family, they were inseparable. While they were not of the same species – human vs. canine; it would be obvious that Jan thought of her beloved Buttons as her child and Buttons thought of Jan as her Mom. And no one would dare to tell them otherwise. They were soul mates.
Buttons was the runt of a litter of two. The sister was almost as big as their mother, while Buttons was – well, cute as a button and just as small. I was there to help Jan pick out a puppy and when we both laid eyes on her, we sighed as if shot by Cupids arrow. She was spunky, yet sweet and loved nothing more than to bury her head into the crook of your neck. She was a quick learner but had a way of telling you just what she would and would not do. For all of 6 pounds, her determination was herculean. She was the perfect dog for my friend who was seeking a match that would help ease the loneliness and loss of both her husband, her mother and a grown son with a life and family of his own.
When my friend had a reoccurrence of breast cancer, Buttons would snuggle in the crook of Jan’s arm and “help” her heal. During her many bouts with diverticulitis, Buttons was her hot water bottle, draping her little body across her belly as if she knew both the heat and pressure would ease the pain.
Likewise, Buttons had health issues and medical mayhem became a new normal for both of them. She was born with hydrocephalis of the brain and later developed seizures. As with many King Charles Spaniels, heart disease is a genetic issue and her heart became enlarged which made breathing and activity an effort for this brave, little fur ball of love.
Veterinarian cardiologists and neurologists were consulted, medications were taken at certain times throughout the day, and routine testing and checkups became their new normal. Neither complained, each taking turns living their respective parts as caregiver and care receiver. I never heard Jan complain about the limitations and restrictions it placed on her life and Buttons took her pills as if she knew they were to help her. True love is like that, isn’t it? Whether it is the love between people that share a life or a person and their dog/cat; love knows no boundaries, no “I can’t, I won’t. There is only the desire to love, to persevere and share in not just the good but also the bad.
Though Buttons never had a lot of energy and tired easily, when around other dogs she came to life. Jan began to seek out another small dog that might provide company for her little friend. It took a lot of research and time with various rescue centers because it had to be a little furry friend that could play but not too hard, would take to a gentle soul, yet bring some fur ball fun to Buttons. After a breakfast with a friend something drew her to a pet store to look at the puppies. This was uncharacteristic of Jan because she had always been a proponent of adoption. In fact all her dogs had been rescued. But she felt led to “just take a look”. And there she found a little puppy to add to their home. Buttons was overjoyed and the two played and snuggled together – fast friends.
But it wasn’t enough. There wasn’t enough time, medicine, love or money that could thwart the morning when Buttons began having unremitting seizures and labored breathing. A 4 am mad dash to the Emergency vet confirmed that Buttons was closing in on her last hours with Jan. They could try to buy her more time, but the quality of life would not be there anymore. While Buttons never took her eyes off Jan, they seemed to be saying to her – “Let me go. I waited so you would not be alone to cross over to eternity. The time is now. This new little one will help you. Let her help you like you helped me”. And Jan knew that the best she could do for her soul mate would be to end the pain and suffering even though it felt as if her heart were swollen and enlarged like Button’s and threatening to burst. She knew it was time to say “good bye – for now”.
Some told Jan that her dog was a ‘lemon” and would never live long enough to do anything remotely close to that of a “normal” dog. But to Jan’s way of thinking, and mine, who’s “normal”? You won’t find normal in neither Jan nor I. I make the case that we are all imperfectly perfect – just how God made us. And true love is not chosen because of perfection and sometimes you don’t choose your love one at all. God does. But I will tell you this. For anyone who thinks that Buttons didn’t make Jan’s life better; they’re wrong. Buttons lived long enough to bring pure joy and love to Jan’s heart. Their life together was a match made by God whether for a lifetime or for a season.
Have you ever had a soul mate? Have you ever had to say good bye knowing that a piece of you was dying right alongside them? Have you ever had to make that decision? The decision that would separate you from the one you loved, knowing that everything at home would remind you of what you have lost? Their favorite blanket? The favorite chair? The way they listened or didn’t listen to you? The love you felt just by being with them?
It would never be the same. And yet, the memories – the sweet, sweet memories warm the heart – oh, how good to have those precious moments to relive over and over again. The old adage that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved rings so true.
For Jan and Buttons, they were meant to be together for this season. No one could have taken better care of one another than those two. And yet the time has come to part. How special that God would bring in another life for Jan to love, to care for, to help fill the void, the very void that Buttons filled five years ago. In time, the hallowed out hole in Jan’s heart will close. A scar will remain as a tribute to love of that special soul mate that would forever live in her heart.
“The Lord’s favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5
Thank you for reading my post. If you have found it encouraging please consider liking, commenting or sharing it. Feel free to comment here or even re-blog – may these words take flight!
I have additional insights I’d love to share with you found in the pages of my debut book: Surviving Medical Mayhem – Laughing When It Hurts. To order a copy or learn more go to my website at www.lorettaschoen.com
Blessings for Health & Wellness.