My wedding anniversary is June 3. The first couple of anniversaries after my husband’s death were extremely difficult. There seemed no helpful way to get through this day. I would even start feeling sad and uncomfortable several days prior.

During the fifth year, my old dog began having health problems. She was 13. She looked really good for her age, but I had to acknowledge that 13 was on the older end of the life spectrum for Black Labs.

I was in the process of starting a business and felt very torn about whether to stay home with her or pursue my new career.

Rabi (pronounced Robbie) had been through a lot with me. She sat on the floor with me amidst piles of books while I wrote my Master’s Thesis. She had been our “trail guide” when my husband and I went on horseback riding vacations. She snuggled with me many times during my husband’s final months, tears falling on her soft fur as we comforted each other.

As my husband’s death grew more imminent, he continually asked me where Rabi was. He knew how important she was to me and how much more important she would become when he was physically gone.

The night he transitioned, Rabi really knew. And she also knew of my increased need to be close to her. She and I became constant companions.

Rabi was the one constant in my life through all the overwhelming changes which occurred after my husband died.

Rabi died on June 3, on what would have been my twenty-sixth wedding anniversary. How could this be? It felt so very cruel. She was really my last connection with the physical life my husband and I shared on our farm. And now she too was gone.

My husband was gone. Rabi was gone.

The next winter as I took a walk in the snow, I looked down and saw a perfectly shaped heart made of snow. It looked like it had somehow formed out of a chunk of snow that had flipped off my boots. I ran back to the house to grab my camera.

Of all the places for me to walk, here I was, gazing at a heart in the snow. Somehow my heart felt more peaceful. Somehow in this moment I was able to feel that the Universe had given me a message about the fragile and yet enduring power of love.

Soon the sun’s intensity melted the snow enough to transform the shape of the heart in the snow. It melted into air and water. It melted into the vastness of the Universe.

I will never forget that day. I will never forget the heart in the snow. But I hold it gently in my memory, as I now hold other days more gently in my memory.

Author's Bio: 

Sandy Clendenen lost her husband and best friend in 1999, after twenty-one years of marriage. Her grief process was lengthy and complex. Sandy felt stuck in layers of unresolved grief. As part of her heaing, Sandy filled numerous journals with her thoughts and feelings. A review of these journals several years later revealed insights into the grief process which Sandy is now committed to sharing with other grievers. Sandy attended seminary for 3 years. She also received her Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology. Sandy has also worked in various areas of hands on healing. Sandy incorporates her vast personal experience and education into her grief coaching products and services.

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