When Emme died, I struggled to find the right words of condolence for her owner, my colleague Matt. I finally told him that rarely are my expectations of great things completely fulfilled. But my day with Emme exceeded my hopes and was a joy. Emme was a 170-pound Great Dane who spent one hot summer day, per Matt, “babysitting” me when I was homebound with a sinus infection. I’d been sick in June with a similar illness, and when I returned to work, Matt offered to bring Emme to my home the next time I felt ill. He knew I loved Great Danes but couldn’t own one because of my chronic illness. So during my second weeklong bout that summer with sinus issues, I gave Matt a call. At six-thirty the next day, he arrived with Emme and the largest dog bed I’d ever seen.
After an hour of anxiously checking my front door, Emme settled in. She was the most obedient animal I’d ever encountered. She jumped on the couch to cuddle on command. She placed her head on my stomach when I patted it and did everything I asked of her immediately. She let me hold her paw and stroke her giant head. Emme also drooled constantly. I’d covered the couch with a sheet and told myself it was going to be a wet day. She and I hung out in my living room, napping and watching TV until Matt picked her up late in the afternoon. An angel of mercy in dog fur, gentle and sweet Emme gave me much needed distraction and comfort.
The limitations of chronic illness mean we don’t always get what we want. I want a dog and can’t have one. I have cats instead, which I adore. I struggle to remember that life is rarely all or nothing. I don’t have the stamina to take care of a dog regularly, but I enjoyed one lovely day with a Great Dane, and that’s a memory I’ll cherish forever. That day reminds me I can get what I want in unexpected ways. It reminds me to be open to those opportunities and savor them.