My partner, Eun-Joung, and I went to the grocery store yesterday afternoon to pick up some items for our New Year’s meal. While perusing the meat aisle, the butcher asked about the button on Eun-Joung’s vest.
A few months ago, my friends’, Catherine and Reid’s, dog passed away suddenly. Her name was Cam, and she was incredibly sweet, even as dogs go. Eun-Joung loves all of my friends’ dogs, but she especially loved Cam, and when we discussed potentially adopting a dog of our own, she would often cite Cam as a model.
When Cam died, Catherine was devastated. As hard as it was to watch her in this state, I couldn’t help but admire how openly she mourned and how willingly she reached out to her friends in her time of need. My inclination would have been to do the opposite, but watching Catherine and other friends deal with loss have helped me realize that completely shutting myself off is not the right way to do it.
Catherine and Reid organized a memorial for Cam at Fort Funston. It was simple and beautiful and perfect. Her friend, Vanessa, who was leading us through the memorial, invited us to name and remember others we had lost. It was a small, but generous gesture. I mentioned one of my mentors, who had recently passed, and I found myself suddenly welling up. The space had been created for Cam, but it ended up being a place where I and others could fully feel and process other grief that we were carrying.
Catherine, always the maker, created buttons for everyone with Cam’s photo and the words, “Dog is love.” Eun-Joung has been wearing that button ever since, and that was the button that caught the butcher’s attention.
When the butcher asked about the button, Eun-Joung told him about Cam. “I’m sorry for your friend,” he replied softly. “I know how she feels. My dog passed away six days ago.”
We asked him about his loss, and he shared stories and photos. Even though we only spent a few minutes talking, it felt like time slowed amidst the hustle and bustle of folks doing their last-minute grocery shopping. A day later, I’m still struck by the intimacy of that moment, sparked by that little button and all that it represents