My Sister lost her best friend today. A playful Rottie, Maggie Mae was Tori’s pride and joy from day one. On her last day with my Sister, Maggie enjoyed a final car ride with her nose jutting out the window, sniffing the South Carolina air. Her best friends, Anakin and Munchkin, gathered around to watch her eat a sausage biscuit, a burrito, Velveeta cheese, and ice cream. Tori sent out a few photos of Maggie’s beautiful final moments. And I was struck by one thing in particular. Not my Sister’s kindness—she’s a veterinarian and always does what’s good, right, and honorable by an animal. Not Maggie’s peaceful and happy face—she had the best life of any dog on earth. Not even the careful planning and thoughtfulness that went into every element of Tori’s hardest day on earth and Maggie’s last.
What struck me most was my Mom’s leg, gently shaking as she sat on the chair behind my Sister, simply watching and being present. It was my father in fresh pressed khakis in the background, always the provider, even when everything is gone. It’s the incredible people my family is: my Mom and her earth shattering tears watching her daughter in pain; my father standing and being still when there’s no longer anything he can do to help; and Tori’s long dark beautiful hair wrapped gently around her best friend for one final hug.
We spend our whole lives avoiding emotion and trying our damndest not to feel pain. But Gail Osterlund McMillen, James McMillen, and Tori McMillen dive right in and embrace every single second of hell because that’s what love is. And I’m so proud to be able to call these people my family.
Tito, our hearts are breaking for you a million miles away. But I can’t wait to come home, open a bottle of Nero, and raise a glass to Maggie Mae: the luckiest dog to ever live, and the Girl Who Was Chosen to Love Her.