By my side…

For nine years I have greeted each day with my companion, Lilly, by my side. Trained to be an assist dog, she has retrieved multiple objects dropped or out of my reach – from pens to book, from coat hangers to telephones – Lilly has heard the call for these and many other items and made her way from floor to my lap or arms, her attention focused on where I am and my care.

These days Lilly seldom leaves my sight. Her intuition is sharp – she knows we are in another time of transition. Boxes have begun to appear, and as before, she knows that means change is in the air. It is no secret to friends and family, from the beginning my retirement has filled me with mixed emotions. There are moments in a day when I have to stop – to regroup – to grieve. Overwhelmed with the change and the current preparation to move, I decided long ago – when I needed a “crying break” I would take it.

A few days ago it was time for one of those ‘breaks’. With all of the resources she could find, Lilly tended to my sadness. From cleaning my hands to putting her head in my lap, she tried everything to ‘settle’ me. Finally after a whimper or two of her own, she went to the door and barked. As my assistant entered, Lilly led her to me and stood by my side. She watched – when I began to calm she stretched out beside me with a sigh.

 As I continue to re-adjust to my newer limitations, Lilly carries hope. She brings delight in each day and maintains a routine that helps me refocus when I am feeling most scattered.  With only a few weeks before she and I move to a new home, she reminds me time and again that I am not alone.  She will remain by my side waiting to nudge me when ‘we’ need a break from the work of  sorting and packing.  She knows to keep track of the important things –  a walk in the fresh air or the evening game of ball – after all, (she says with her wise and playful eyes) life is an adventure and so much lies ahead for us. Her presence in my life remains a delight, bringing comfort when no words need be spoken.  

I end this day in gratitude for my companion, Lilly.

8 thoughts on “By my side…”

  1. What a beautiful picture you’ve drawn of Lilly’s devotion! Our cat comes to ‘settle’ us when there is an argument or tears — and I remember when the kids were young, she’d come get me when one of them fell and got hurt. What a blessing that Lilly will make this transition with you, will find her own ways to say ‘remember when’ as well as ‘remember to’. And suddenly the song running through my head is “Be Thou My Vision” — I’ll leave it to you to find the connection. Much love in your move.



    1. Leesy – You are so right, this move is enriched by one who knows my story from time-gone-by. The ‘remember to’s will help build a sense of home each day. Thank you for sharing the song – ‘Be Thou My Vision’ (one of my favorites). I was humming – ‘By My Side’ from Godspell as I wrote this piece. Both are perfect for reflection. Always…


  2. Carrie:
    You, since I have known you at St. Paul’s, have been and are a brilliant and poignant writer/sermonizer. Please continue to write
    , and speak in your new move (where?).
    Smoke-gets-in-your eyes……Dick the Thurifizer


  3. Your words about Lilly are so gracefully etched onto the page. A companion animal is a great joy and such a gift, it is hard to imagine that bond going even deeper with an Assist Dog. It must be both achingly precious, and yet difficult to know that although Lilly will adjust with you to your new surroundings, that she will continue to seek your ultimate peace and contentment in order that she might feel the same. She wants your sadness to dissipate, and for your spirit to be calm. How sweet she is to tend to you.

    I am always amazed at how my companion dog (an Akita named Bruiser) knows when I need an extra nuzzle, or a distraction, or even an impromptu stuffed monkey throwing game of fetch. He helps me feel safe, and less alone, and brings a smile to my heart when I think there are no smiles available. Your Lilly is so precious and beautiful … all those beautiful curls … and those silky soft ears, and her sweetly expressive eyes. Lucky girl.


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