Tonight we said goodbye to our beautiful Australian Shepherd, Francesca.
At almost sixteen years old, we have been trying to prepare ourselves for this day for the better part of a year with middling success. As other milestones in our lives passed, we all wondered if this would be the last time we would enjoy them with Franny. We marked as small triumphs the days that Francesca saw; Andrew’s return from Europe, Coming home from vacation, this year’s Thanksgiving dinner. Amazingly, Franny slowed but never gave up enjoying her life until this past week, when she could no longer walk under her own power.
We are grateful that all of us could be with her as our veterinarian gently helped Francesca to die. Andrew, Claire, Melissa and myself were able to stay with Franny for her last breaths; petting her and crying until she was gone. It was as good a death as any of us could hope for; surrounded by those we love and those that love us.
Many of our posts center on our efforts to simplify our lives; to reduce the hold our busy, shore based world has on us as we strive to become full time cruisers. Tonight, our lives are indeed less complicated but we are poorer for what we have lost.
But this is what we keep. Memories of nearly sixteen years, marveling at Francesca’s intelligence, beauty and grace. She has been at the center of our family’s collective life for so long that it is impossible to recount Claire and Andrew’s childhood without her. She was there for Melissa and me when those same children grew up, went to college and had lives of their own.
That is what we keep.
Francesca did what all great dogs do; she made us better people.