My last few days had been mired in a bit of this and that, stitched together around the edges by rays of wonder. However, when an email arrived late in the afternoon, a warm glow reached deep within me and started making its way to the surface until I was beaming. By the time we went to sleep, I had covered myself in a peaceful, joyous feeling and felt all was right with the world.
Let me explain.
I learned that Christina, one of our moderators, had posted a video taken on the day before I said goodbye to Will. Tears? Yes, there were. But more than anything, there was happiness. What Will and I experienced together through two and a half years of hard work, was a dance between friends, ending in a crescendo of grace.
Looking back on that day, seeing the way he was moving with difficulty, I remember something Dr. Rachael Kleidon told me the next day when we brought Will to the mountainside to say our farewells. I’ll always remember it.
“Tom, this is a perfect time. Yours is a kind decision. Will can barely hold himself up. When he lays down, he flops over on his side. There’s no more strength. You don’t want him to suffer.”
I knew I was making the right decision, but it also felt good to have Rachael by my side reaffirming it.
So as I returned home and saw that old video clip, I cried, and I laughed, and I smiled. Yes, Will, I fucking love you! I said it then, I feel it still. And I’m so proud of you.
Just before he died, I made Will a promise that I would share his remarkable story with the world. I often think about that when I sometimes struggle in writing and re-writing it, trying to do it and him justice. I want it just right. There are days I take good writing and throw it away because it’s still not good enough for my friend. Perhaps I’m trying to be too perfect.
Sitting at my desk, watching that video, that’s when the email came in. It was from my editor. She was forwarding the image of a two-sided postcard that will be used for marketing purposes at events I’ll be attending throughout the autumn.
The only fault I could find with it was that I couldn’t hold it in my hand yet. Goodness knows I returned to the images several times yesterday, gazing at it, smiling at it, feeling proud for sweet Will.
Eventually, you will learn about a promotion we’ll be running with Four Your Paws Only, in North Conway. I bought Will’s red coat from them. A coat that turned into his talisman, which became mine after he left. It hangs lovingly on a hook above my desk.
It’s handmade, by a New Hampshire woman. The quality is what you might expect from a labor of love.
Soon enough we’ll be making the official announcement as to how people will be able to buy their version of Will’s red coat from Four Your Paws Only.
As for my profits from the sales, I don’t pretend to know what Will thought when he was alive, most of the time, and I won’t claim to know where his spirit resides now, other than in my love for him. But I don’t think he’d mind in the least bit that the money I would have made from selling a version of his coat will be going to the Conway Area Humane Society. Every cent of it, in hopes that other dogs and cats who are down on their luck and may just need someone to believe in them one last chance at a loving home.
The story of Will is one of redemption, choice, and how things can turn around no matter how challenging life is. Yesterday, my struggles with the mundane were washed away and the night ended on an up note.
(You can pre-order "Will's Red Coat: The Story of One Old Dog Who Chose to Live Again at all on-line retailers. It can also be pre-ordered through your local independent booksellers. Personalized autographed and 'pawtographed' copies can be called into White Birch Books at 603-356-3200.)