For Echo: Iron and Wine / The Trapeze Swinger

Almost 14 years ago, I picked up a rugged, wild, slightly annoying dog to please a young 304522_10150291060071126_543968384_ngirl whose family wouldn’t allow her a dog. Fridays I would drive across Los Angeles to pick up this dog and give her a few hours with this little girl, hoping to bridge a friendship between the two. The dog would stay in my home until Sunday and I’d train myself to believe it was all for the purpose of the young girl. Months later, as I’d stretch out our time together from Friday through Sunday to Friday through Monday, Tuesday…I realized that without an intention attached, I had become madly in love with this dog, Echo. In every tiny moment, I felt a tremendous love coming from Echo. She watched my every move, wiggled her way into the corners of my heart with a face that was so filled with a desire to please me. Watch me. Love me. Feel me. One day, I woke up realizing there was no way I could live without this creature in my life.
We spent the next 14 years together, more in love than I have ever been in my life. Through chewed shoes, vomit on couches, runs on the beach, sunsets together, hikes in the forest, road trips, airplane trips across continents and hyper greetings at the many doors we lived behind, Echo was my person. My soul mate. My friend. My mother. My comforting, warm pillow sometimes soaked in tears, sometimes a place for my laughter and secrets to store themselves. Her warm belly was the destination for my many rubs, pets and my sleepy head.
For 14 years I have had a warm spot next to my legs as I’ve fallen asleep and as I’ve woken up.
For 14 years I’ve looked at sidewalks, dirt stretches, parks, mountains, beaches through Echo’s eyes – a great spot to run, a nice area to relax her body, a perfect pee spot. I’ve truly only looked at the world in ways that would benefit or harm my baby. Glasses for my loved one.
Echo has seen relationships rise and fall. And she’s been there. She’s seen me through every emotion possible. And she’s been there. I’ve always been an off-beat traveling, loner  soul who many refer to as a bird. This dog, this baby of mine, had her wings when I met her and through all of these years, we’ve flown. Together. Never without the other.
Somewhere along the road, Echo committed to showing me the most outrageous, loyal love without fail. She dedicated her soul and heart to me. And, never, not once, did Echo ever, ever show me anything but.
Yesterday, without any warning. Without any signs. And years before I was even the slightest bit prepared, Echo left me.
Her leash on my chair as I type this, I can honestly say I now know the earth-shattering feeling of loss.
How does step into a day without her core? How does one who has mapped out her every moment with this other life factored into it suddenly gone?
Waking up wasn’t worth it’s weight this morning as I immediately realized she wasn’t on my bed. Walking out my door barely able to breathe and pinching my own arm trying to stop myself from crying for 10 minutes, I had the cold, unfriendly shock that I no longer was the privileged woman who got to take Echo to the park. No more walks. No more hikes. No more lazy mornings together with belly rubs. No more of a love I’ve come to rely on. Come to crave. Come to take as my sober refuge from life’s thieving moments. In every trouble, her love was my salvation. Her friendship my food.

As I search my heart. This life. And the ugly reality of an enormous piece of my soul missing, never to return, I’m heavily paralyzed by a sadness so real, so heavy and so inconsolable.

Quite shy when it comes to the true feelings inside of me, I felt that Echo Austin deserved a tribute. Fuck that. This universe of loyalty and love deserves way more than a blog post, of course. But, while tucked inside our home, in her absence, all that I can do is type out how beautiful she was.

My life won’t ever be the same. I wasn’t ready to part with the finest gift I’ve ever been given. Nor am I ready to accept that when I walk through my door, she won’t be there with her begging-for-love eyes. She truly was the most beautiful display of love, patience, acceptance and consistency. I’ve never known a soul, no matter how great or small, as truly beautiful as Echo. I’d be hard pressed to find one that matches hers or is in line with my heart the way she was. My soulmate. Two birds.

I love my dog. I’ll miss her unconditionally while I live the rest of a life she should have experienced with me. May she run unabashedly throughout her next life of mountains, sunshine, oceans and love returned. May I find the ground again, someday.

Enjoy.

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