A Busy Season and Goodbye to Mojo

Every year since I can remember, the month of May, and especially the days leading up to Memorial Day, is a busy season. Between school choir concerts, piano recitals, and end-of-year celebrations, it seems like everything happens all at once. But until last year, I didn’t know what busy really meant. On top of the previously mentioned events, I was also preparing to graduate high school, visiting my college to make sure the accommodations I needed were in place, learning some routes at my college to better prepare me if I got a guide dog, and last but not least, getting fitted for a dress to be a bride’s maid in my sister’s wedding. On top of that, my brother (Mojo’s owner) moved away last year on this date, and my family was helping him pack.
     So this date last year began on a sad note, as I had to say goodbye to Mojo. Mojo had stayed with us a lot the months leading up to the move because my brother was working, and also needed to make arrangements before the move, so my mom and I had started to grow attached to Mojo. But Mojo was my brother’s dog, and we also thought that it was probably a good thing that Mojo would not be living with us when I got my guide dog because he is very territorial and a dominant male (smile). So at about 6:30 in the morning on this date last year, my parents and I stood out in the driveway to see him off. I think my parents and I were both amazed at how happily and innocently he jumped in the car with my brother, never looking back at us. I wonder if he knew he was leaving us, or if he will remember us; we have not been able to see him all year because he is too big to go on an airplane. With my brother’s work schedule, he has not had time to drive back, and we won’t be able to make such a long trip any time soon either. But when my brother came back to visit for Thanksgiving, he assured us Mojo was happy and doing well. Just like after Indy died, when I received Gilbert three months after Mojo moved away, I once again found room in my heart for another special dog.
     I’m sorry. The way I am going on about Mojo, some might think that I missed Mojo more than my brother (smile). I miss my brother too, but in many ways, Mojo was like a best friend, always there to greet me when I came home, or cheer me up when I was down, and dogs, especially dogs like Mojo have an innocence, and an optimistic outlook on life, that no human friend has ever been able to match.
     After Mojo left, I didn’t cry, or anything like that, but there was definitely that all too familiar sense that something was missing in our house. But I think there is definitely some truth to the belief that keeping busy leaves less time to think about a loss, and I definitely kept busy. That very night, I had my last high school choir concert. Freshman, sophomore and junior year, I had witnessed seniors tearfully saying goodbye to the choir teachers, and singing a farewell song, but somehow, it seemed hard to believe that this day had come for me too. But surprisingly I didn’t even cry at the last concert like I thought I would. Why? As I stood onstage singing with the choir, my sadness was drowned out by the realization that my graduation party was only two weeks away, and I still had not sent out invitations!
     One year later, today is kind of a busy day, but nothing compared to last year. On Monday, my parents and I drove to Indiana to pick up my grandma, and today, my sister came home from North Carolina for my grandma’s 80th birthday party. While I thought about Mojo a little bit, especially since my brother is flying home tomorrow for the party, the thought also occurred to me that today marks the nine month anniversary of my graduation with Gilbert, my sweet, faithful guide dog, who just like Mojo, has an innocence, and a joy for life about him. I would not trade Gilbert for the world because he has reaffirmed my belief that while all dogs are special in their own way, and should never be forgotten, there is always room in the heart for the love of another dog. And in many ways, my bond with Gilbert is even deeper than my bond with Indy, Snickers or Mojo because Gilbert is not simply a pet, but a guide dog. In some ways, he is a pet, wagging his tail, giving kisses, and begging for a belly rub. But in harness, he keeps me safe, cautiously navigating me across streets, and over bumpy sidewalks, helping me to build self confidence, trust and independence.
     Over the past year, I have realized the truth behind the saying which says “the only constant in life is change”. This year has been full of changes, not the least of which was working a guide dog. But through it all, Gilbert has stood patiently and faithfully by my side joyfully stepping in to fill Mojo’s place and become my new best friend.

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