Sweet Tucker – July 2010
My dad called early yesterday morning
and I could tell right away in his voice that something was wrong.
Tucker, he said, had likely suffered a stroke a couple of hours earlier.
He and my mom would be taking Tuck to the vet, he said, 
“and we think this is goodbye.”
I remember the day we got Tucker;
I was finishing my junior year of high school and my little brother,
who was 10 or 11, desperately wanted a dog.
We had met a cockapoo breeder in a gas station parking lot 
and played with a bunch of puppies, but Tucker stole our hearts right away.
He was meant to be part of our family.
My brother named him Tucker after the book “Tuck Everlasting.”
Such a fitting name, since our Tuck outlasted all predictions and and expectations,
living for nearly 19 years (pretty close to everlasting!).
For the past couple of years, his health rapidly deteriorated;
he lost his vision, his hearing, and even stopped barking.
But he never lost his giant heart, filled to the brim with unconditional love.
On my way to an appointment yesterday with my toddler,
I found myself driving instead to the vet’s office.
Nothing else seemed important in that moment.
I wanted to say goodbye and to be there for my heartbroken parents.
My mom carried Tucker, awake and calm, wrapped in a soft blanket.
His eyes were glassy but I know he knew I was there.
As we waited in the lobby, I rubbed his ears and the top of his nose,
thanking him for being such a good boy,
nearly falling apart when my toddler gave Tucker his “lovey” blanket.
And soon it was time to bid farewell.
I leaned over and kissed the top of his head and whispered, “Bye, Tuck.”
I keep imagining him back in his puppy body, bounding through fields of green and gold,
aware that he fulfilled his mission here on earth
(the same I think one we all have):
to master unconditional love.
Tuck Everlasting. Love Everlasting.