A life well-lived

By Benny Huckleberry as told to Liz Hoffmann | Apr 26, 2019

Do any of you, my dear readers, have a very best friend? Someone to whom you can tell absolutely anything and everything, with no fear of being judged? It's rumored that among humans, friends like that are rare. But among us dogs, it's really the norm. We canines listen and listen and listen as you speak, and we never judge you ... we just love you!

So that is why my human "mom" shares so many things with me. She talks about her struggles and achievements, about her work and her friends, and of course, about the things that she feels deeply. And one thing that she just recently told me really made me think. In a good way. Maybe it will resonate with you, too, and thus I'd like to share.

My mom’s friend back from her high school days (an incredibly long time ago in dog years), recently passed away from a terrible disease. It had taken him by surprise and was out of the blue, which I was told can happen to humans sometimes. No warning; just -- boom -- and suddenly his life was in danger. He fought it like a champ, but ultimately, the disease won and he passed. Everyone was so sad. And while he had lived in Maine for many years, his family held a celebration of life service for him also in his hometown in New York.

It’s the town where both he and my mom grew up. My mom went to this gathering and when she came home, she told me how wonderful it was. Yes, it was terrible that he was gone, but it was amazing to see just how many lives he had touched! Everyone there spoke of how special he was, how strong and kind, and how grateful they were to have known him. Whether from his very close friends or casual acquaintances, the room was abuzz with the fact that he had made their lives and the planet a better place. Wow, to have such an impact on so many people is really quite a lifetime accomplishment! And to do all this just by being yourself!

My mom went onto say that even though her friend was now gone - that he was still making a difference. She felt strongly that everyone at that service was just a little bit more thoughtful, a little bit wiser, and a little bit more present for having known him and through connecting with others in his honor. She and I agreed that it’s really the most noble of pursuits and proof of a life well lived when your spirit can touch people's hearts and then live there inside of them when you’re gone. And he has done that.

As for me, that’s why I try to always wag my tail, and to engage with all the humans that I can. I really try to make a positive difference, and while as a dog I’m more limited in what I can do, I can certainly write this column. I’m also aware that since her friend’s passing, my mom has doubled down on her vows to try harder to reach out to old friends, and to celebrate every sunny and rainy day that she is granted. And to tell more people that she loves them, since we all can use more love. I like that a lot, and I thank her late friend for helping her to be better. With love to Brian in heaven and to all of you out there, Benny H.

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