Look in the Stars

Just a forewarning before you read any further: you will probably need some tissues handy.

“This here, is my Dad.

My Dad and his very best friend – a dog named Sammy.

And this is a story – maybe my favorite story that I’ll ever have the privilege to tell – about love and friendship.

I, for one, can never say for sure why we were put here on this earth. But of all the guesses I could ever make – Love is the very best reason.

Sammy, the oversized, perfectly goofy 1 part Newfoundland/1 part Lab/1 part Birthday Clown mix, showed us all we ever needed to know about love.
In fact, he spent seventeen long and beautiful years teaching us and each and every tiny thing he thought we really should know about the subject.

Sammy went to work each and every day with my Dad. Dad is in the auto body business and is the hardest, most honest blue collar worker I could ever be lucky enough to have as an example. (It should also be noted that he is my favorite person in the world. A man who single handedly went up into the galaxy, past the stars, and hung the moon – just for me.) Sammy would lay happily on the garage floor, staying close throughout the long working hours – unwavering until the moment Dad could rinse the day’s oil, grease and engine fluid from his hands and turn the lights off to go home. Dad loves with a very, very full heart and he and Sammy were instant friends from the moment Sammy first walked into our home 17 years ago. I couldn’t have asked for a more incredible best friend for my Dad. I was so grateful to Sammy for filling my Dad’s life up with silliness and love and for keeping him company throughout all the years and adventures. Sammy took such good care of Dad for me – especially during times when I was far, far away living out wild dreams thousands of miles from home. I would miss Dad so terribly and then smile knowing how safe he was in Sammy’s care.

Lots of things have whirled and changed throughout the last 2 decades, but one thing always remained constant:


Standing in his well-worn spot at my Dad’s feet.

During health, happiness, joy and eventually sickness – Sammy held fast.

Fast forward to a January evening – just about a week or so ago. Sammy had been fighting hard, battling the cancer that had woven its way into his body early last year. He’d lost his eye and his tail to the terrible beast and was growing weaker with each passing day. I was in Florida on another big adventure and my cell phone began to ring. It was my Dad. When I picked it up, an eerie feeling passed over my shoulders, like something had shifted in the atmosphere. And somehow I knew.

Dad spoke.

He said:

‘Kaylee, tonight you should look for Sammy in the stars.’

And then, in one tiny moment, just like that, a piece of my heart went missing. A big Sammy-shaped hole in my chest formed right in that instant. Tears came fast and easy.

But, in that instant, as I was crying in the middle of this Irish Pub where I was having dinner in Florida – something struck me. This particular kind of sadness was profound. Because while I was intensely sad, I was grateful.
Grateful for all the years, the moments, the smiles. For the Winter mornings and the Autumn afternoons. For the forests, the valleys and the ponds we so proudly conquered. For the happy long rides in the car with our cheeks gloriously flapping in the Summer wind.

And in those last moments of his life, Sammy taught us just a few remaining things about love that he thought we still had to learn:

Love knows no dimension, place or time.

It transcends the physical world, far past the reaches of our earthly capabilities.

Love is a flame of fire and light that will always be your beacon when all else seems to go dark.

And no matter what, love will always find you.

That’s the thing about love. You think it’s gone forever and then it sparkles right back through about a hundred different galaxies to get to you. Sammy’s love came thundering across the sky that night and right into my heart. Even though I couldn’t see him. I could feel him. Even though he was swirling through the stars on a very very big adventure to another time and place – he found me. He found me right there in that Irish Pub. And he made me remember his lessons of love.

Friendships don’t end – they dance on and endlessly on. Sammy was our dance. He was our universe and all the tiny stars within it. And he’ll always be the candle that lights the path on especially dark nights.

Our hearts sting with the pain of missing you. Our hands long to feel the curls of your soft black coat swirling through the spaces between our fingers just one last time. But our heads.. our heads know that we are the luckiest, most privileged people in the world for the impossible opportunity of getting to be loved by a soul so pure as yours.

We loved you Sammy, more than the physical limitations of nature and life would allow us to. And while your body is gone – your spirit lives on in our hearts. Your joy is in our blood, coursing through our veins, hot and electric with life. Your courage and bravery is in our bones – small pieces of you that make big pieces of us truly, completely and wholly better. And so you live on. Through endless generations of time.

When we wake to see your empty bed, or your leash hanging forlornly from the door – stained and frayed from years of of wild and amazing adventures – we remember. We remember the love that you gave us and the legacy that you left behind. To earn the love of an old friend like you is the greatest gift the universe could ever give us. And so you’re gone – and yet you remain. Right here. At Dad’s feet. Just like you always were.

You’ll run just as you did that first day we met you – scampering clumsily towards our feet, making our sides hurt with laughter. Yes, just as you did that first day we met you – when you promised us 17 beautiful years of laughter, kindness and adventure.

And now, you’ve taught us everything you thought we should know, so the lesson comes to a close and we must let you go.

Thank you for teaching us the things no one else ever could. Now,, run free and swift across the sky our sweet Sammy boy.

May Angels lead you in.

**I took this photo just a month or so few back when we found out that Sammy may not have much more time with us on this earth. Each and everyday I am so grateful that I got to the opportunity capture this precious moment between two old friends.”

I found this story on Dog Breath Photography on Facebook.

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