In a few days, I’ll take that big ol’ jet airliner (see Steve Miller Band’s song on YouTube) west and southwest. I’m traveling to Phoenix for about five days then spending two-and-a-half in Las Vegas (and looking forward to meeting Mike Staton and having lunch with him while I’m in the area!)
Two friends from college and their families live in the Phoenix area. One of my friends has lived there for nearly 25 years and the other became a snowbird about three years ago (he and his wife winter in AZ and summer in WY … I try to not let the green-eyed monster of jealousy rise too high when I think of this couple!) A woman I’ve known for nearly 20 years lives in the Los Angeles area; she’s an elementary teacher and spring break for her occurs during the time I’m traveling – so we’re meeting in Vegas for a few days. During that time I will have my 54th birthday, and my girlfriend and I are going to hit the town for dinner and a show! While in Arizona, my friends and I are going to enjoy several adventures, including visiting Old Tucson Studios and possibly a spring training baseball game. I had hoped my husband would join me on this part of the trip, but work and church obligations keep him in Casper. Although I’d love hubby to join me, I have my friends to spend time and share adventures with, and I’m grateful for that.
I have another friend that I’ve known for more than 30 years who, last year, was diagnosed with a very rare form of stomach cancer. He’s my age. He’s gone through multiple surgeries for the cancer and for infections thereafter. Needless to say, the world of he and his family has been rocked … so has mine. This person and his wife mean a great deal to me – they are the brother and sister I’ve never had. Last week I gathered with them for a dinner. Despite the uncertainty they face and the major setbacks they’ve had, they still maintain a great attitude. We had a wonderful time, sharing laughter and memories … and a few tears.
I’ve also shed a few tears over my elderly dog Cody during the past several days. He is nearly 17 and has had some great struggles. One evening I returned home from work to find him nearly comatose. We suspect he had a stroke. He rebounded the next day and has had several up days lately; we even took him to our cabin on the mountain last weekend. We treasure each day we have with him despite the getting up several times in the night due to his health conditions and being very tired. Cody’s old soul is tired, too, and one day he won’t be with us any longer. Although to be expected with his advancing age, the idea of losing him breaks my heart – he’s been, and remains, a cherished friend.
I have a bracelet that I wear nearly every day. It has colorful beads, and the word “HOPE” secures the ends. I look at that and try to remember hope is alive and well when a person digs down deep and perseveres. Each of those colored beads represents someone special in my life, friend or family member I care about. I look at the word “HOPE” and whisper a prayer over each of those individuals I think of when I view the bracelet on my wrist. I will be wearing it on my trip.
No one knows the future. We live in the present and we create good (or bad) with what we have. I am thankful for friends, those I’ve known since elementary and high school with whom I still maintain a relationship; my colleagues at work; my writers’ group; my fellow Writing Wranglers; and my neighbor and surrogate mother Marian, who helps with the dogs SO OFTEN. I celebrate each one who has often shared hope with me in times of loss. And, I choose to remember the good times, such as my dog Cody barking loudly at a dog or person he thought was out to harm me (small dog, big heart, that boy!), or the many years of friendship I’ve shared with my friends in Arizona, California, and Wyoming… or wherever they may live.
I know you, too, cherish your friendships for I’ve seen postings on this blog about people you care about. And, I cherish you, my Writing Wrangler friends, because we share a love of writing, we’ve come to know each other more personally, and you have been an encouragement to me through the years I’ve “known” you.
So, as I prepare to wing my way to a sunny southwest and bask in the beauty and joy of friendship with some special people, I toast you all! I celebrate you, my many other friends, and my family, those near and far!
is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and two dog devotion books: Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God and Devotions for Dog Lovers 2: Sage Advice. She is also a contributing writer to five editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, including The Dog Did What?, released August 2014. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. She has a passion for pets and volunteers for and donates a percentage of her writing revenues to several animal welfare organizations. Her speaking engagements include presentations for children and adults about the lessons people can learn from pets. Visit her website at www.gaylemirwin.com.