Three years ago today we said goodbye to Madeline. I don’t feel the same crushing grief I did at one year; I don’t expect her to come down the hallway daily like I did at two; but she’s on my mind today. I spent the past weekend on silent retreat, and my cabin was named “Little Fox”. Richard and I sometimes called Maddie that, and I took it as a sign she’s still with me in some way.

This morning I walked to Duboce Park – Maddie’s park in my mind – and sat down where we used to walk. I looked out toward the Mint, taking in the clear sky and city skyline. And I remembered how she used to run, pull, play bow, bark. In his writing about how nature and animals connect to our soul, Bill Plotkin talks about the compass points of the human soul. I stood and addressed each of the four cardinal directions; beginning in the north I thanked Maddie for the ways she parented me; for the animal wisdom she shared with me; for the sense of play and wildness she expressed; and finally, for her beloved companionship. West is sometimes associated with “what has to die” to open new paths; it was during this final prayer that I thanked her for continuing to teach me in her passing and in the years since.

Thank you, Madeline, for every minute we spent together.