Amidst the chaos last week, I lost a friend. I am not writing this to bring sadness, but to celebrate a life that changed my own infinitely. Gretta found a way to burrow herself snug against our hearts, and when we lost her, that part of our heart left with her. Its painful, it sucks, I feel like my heart has split in two...and I wouldn't trade my time with her for anything.
Gretta was with me for 9 1/2 years. She was the constant in my life for just shy of a decade and for the better part of my adult life. Me and this girl, we had some adventures.
Gretta loved to be outdoors more than anything in the world (besides me...mmmm, actually I think she liked being outside more). Gretta was a dog of few "words", but one of the times she would become vocal was when we headed up the road to some of our favorite hiking spots. She knew, even though we were miles from the trailhead, that when the car turned up Pattee Canyon she was going to get some freedom. She would dance around the car running from window to window, give us a quick lick on the face, and then let out a long low bark. Pure joy.
Gretta was my sole companion on a 10,000-mile road trip around the country. We had some long days in the car. Each morning after she realized we were not, in fact, going hiking - she'd settle herself on the front seat and lay her head in my lap. We'd drive for hours this way, me stroking her head and her sleeping soundly. She kept me company and kept me sane on those long days.
Gretta was a 100% total bad ass. We thought that she had run away one day and spent hours searching the neighborhood for her. When we finally found her, she was sitting at the base of a tree. Staring up at a mountain lion she had treed. No shit. Another time we were backpacking through the Bitterroots and she chased a bear that came across our path. No Shit. Yeah 100% bad ass.
Gretta also had some moments that weren't so bad ass. Gretta loved sticks. She was borderline obsessed; when she saw a stick that was all she saw. It didn't even matter if it was attached to someone's hand. On one occasion she snagged a stick right out of a small child's hand and started dancing happily around him while he cried, and I frantically chased her in circles apologizing profusely to the mother. Another time, we were hiking on top of a mountain and came across a group of Tibetan Monks (really). Gretta jovially snatched a (4 foot long) hiking stick from one of the monks and bounded through the woods in bliss. The same circus ensued, me chasing Gretta and the monks staring blankly at me. I think they found some humor in it, maybe not. I know I did. As inappropriate fits of laughter escaped my mouth in both situations, I realized she must have a sense of humor in their somewhere too.
When Anna joined our family it was a hard transition for Gretta. She was a pound puppy and ended up there because her previous owners had a baby and decided they couldn't keep Gretta. When we brought Anna home Gretta started shaking from tail to toe, it took days for me to convince her that she was still an important part of our family. And, while she never appeared to take any interest in Anna, she tolerated her. Somewhere deep down, I know she loved her.
Gretta had her peculiarities, and one was that she hated having her picture taken. If you look at all of these pics, she is refusing to look at the camera...except this one where I am bodily forcing her to look up. Gretta was patient, and constantly put up with my nonsense. She didn't like it...but she loved me. So, she put up with it.
I had no idea how in-tune my body was to Gretta's presence until she was gone. I still find myself stepping over her in the kitchen. I find myself getting ready for bed and heading downstairs to let her out one more time for the night. I find myself checking the space where her water and food used to be to make sure there is enough. I hear noises in the house that sound like Gretta moving around, and I believe it for about 2 seconds before reality hits. We're planning a trip out of town next week and Mace caught himself almost asking if we could bring Gretta with. Anna blows kisses to the spot where Gretta's bed used to lay. Our house doesn't feel the same. Her absence is felt in so many crevices of our lives.
Our Girl, our Noona Berra, our Heart, our Gretta. I know you're prancing in the mountains in heaven, where you can run again, you can hear again, you can see again. You are whole again.
We miss you so much every day.
Our lives never would have been the same without you.
Our lives will never be the same without you.