Still reeling from Butler's death, I forced myself to go Christmas shopping. We'd put up a tree but had not decorated it -- and I just didn't have the heart to do things "like we always do" since "like we always do" was not going to be the same, no matter what. So, I went to Michael's and bought several nature-themed garlands and some bright red cardinals to clip onto the tree. Coming out of the store, though, a fresh wave of misery hit me. The Christmas music being played and mixing and mingling with cheerful holiday shoppers just wasn't what I wanted or needed. Throwing my purchases into the back of the car, the tears begin to flow again.
The weather was horrible that day -- my kind of weather actually -- rainy, wind gusting, chilly. Still, the clouds were ominous and I was glad to be heading home. Then, I happened to look up, gazing at the heavens through my tears. Overhead, with no discernible sunshine -- and framed against dark clouds -- was the biggest and most perfect rainbow I'd ever seen. I thought I was seeing things -- I looked away, then back -- but, no, it was no illusion. I looked around me at other shoppers but nobody else seemed to notice, too intent on their business.
I'd always heard of the "rainbow bridge" -- the bridge which, it is said, beloved pets cross to get to the "other side". Now, I know this is something someone made up (the bridge, not the other side) but to have this happen, when it made no sense made me tremble. Was that where my beloved Butler was -- crossing the bridge, where he would wait for us? At once, the rainbow was life-affirming and terrible, a reminder of what I'd lost.
I knew the Biblical story of the rainbow -- that God had placed it in the sky as a promise to Noah -- that he would not destroy the entire earth again by flood. God's promise. Was this my personal promise -- that God would see me through? And, had anybody else even seen the rainbow?
I cried all the way home.
We had already discussed getting another dog -- had actually, before we knew Butler was sick -- talked about how we needed a younger dog in the house because having them bunched so close together in age made for the likelihood of too much sorrow coming down too close together. We said, when we lost one of the dogs, we would get a puppy or, at least, a much younger dog. We never expected it would be Butler who went first or so soon.
Dealing with this loss at Christmas was difficult and we decided that getting another dog during the holiday season -- or so soon -- was probably not a good idea. However, I knew, from past experience, that what is meant to happen will happen -- I decided, other than looking on Petfinder.com (which has always been one of my pastimes), I was not going to actively seek another dog. However, if one fell into my lap, that was another story.
Then I saw her face, staring at me from the computer screen. Part Boston Terrier, part Pug (maybe a little something else), she was not what most people would call a beauty. But I've always been one who liked things a little skewed, a little off-kilter. They called her "Bella" at the rescue shelter -- she was six months old and needed a home. And, I had one to offer. I sent in the application on a whim -- fully expecting them to say that, because we had one dog, though elderly, who was not neutered, we couldn't have her. But my application passed. The only problem was that Bella had the papilloma virus -- which causes warts -- but is also something that usually goes away on its own. Because it's viral and, therefore, contagious, they didn't want to adopt her into a house that already had other dogs. But, it happened I had an appointment with the vet and I asked about it -- my vet said it would be fine, no big deal. I told the rescue group what my vet had said. I didn't expect much but then, in a turnaround, they said yes.
Bella was not a local dog. She was in Roswell, right outside of Atlanta. It would have been ridiculous, no matter how cute she was, to travel to Atlanta to get a dog when there are plenty who need rescuing right here. But, meant-to-be was in full swing. We were heading to Atlanta, anyway, for a wedding. So, all we had to do was swing by and pick her up. And, because it was a family wedding (Mark's brother who is as big a dog lover as we are), we had a place for her to stay while we attended the wedding.
She cannot and will not take Butler's place. He was the one and only, as unique as every dog I've ever had. But we have the means and the love to give a homeless dog a forever home.
We went over names for several days. My requirement for naming pets is that they be named after a fictional character -- or someone real (as Butler was) -- there will never be a Prince or Buddy or Max in this house. I tried to think of something "Christmas-y" but nothing really worked. Many years ago, I had thought about naming Spencer, "Marly" -- as a combination of my and Mark's name. It was a Christmas name in a way -- as in Jacob Marley in Dicken's A Christmas Carol. But, I knew with the book and movie, Marley and Me, that there would be a plethora of dogs named that -- so I had to pass. I rejected every other holiday name I could think of. I then went to my Republican sensibilities -- thought about Palin, Condi, Cheney, Saxby (Georgia senator) -- but Carrie would have none of it. Though, my word is final, I wanted to give her a say in the matter.
We were driving somewhere when she said, how about Liesl? My immediate thought was, how did she know? The Sound of Music is one of my all-time favorite movies -- one of those I can watch repeatedly and not get tired of it. It reminds me of when I was very young and thought Julie Andrews was the best thing since sliced bread. Liesl was the name of the oldest daughter of the Von Trapp family. And then there was Carrie herself -- sixteen going on seventeen. I could hear all the puzzle pieces locking into place.
I tried the name out, said it, yelled it. Then I looked it up to see what the meaning was. Liesl is a diminutive of Elizabeth.
And it means God's Promise
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As an aspiring writer, I blog about whatever happens to move me at the moment -- though some posts contain serious content, my big-picture goal is to bring a little humor into an often humorless world! Welcome, y'all, and make yourself at home! Please make sure you update your bookmarks!
When you are offended at any man's fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger...Epictetus