Grief and Gratitude: Facing a Tumor Diagnosis With Hope, Love and Perspective

It's the Little Things

Mikkel Becker and her Pug, Bruce
Credit: Mikkel Becker
"No matter how Bruce’s path unfolds," Becker says, "I can’t let myself be overwhelmed by worry, sorrow and anxiety."

Bruce has always been a very emotionally attached dog, and he clearly sensed my heartache. When we arrived at home, he immediately curled up on my lap and nestled against me. I didn’t want to upset him, but my emotions were too much to contain — the tears cascaded down my cheeks as I snuggled him. But Bruce knew how to help: He stood up on my lap and gently licked away the tears, comforting me as I grieved for him.

I decided the best thing for everyone would be to focus our energy on an activity Brucie loved, so I leashed both Pugs, and we set out on a walk. Doing this simple, everyday thing reminded me just how special these ordinary moments — training, walks, playtime, snuggling— have always been, for Bruce and for me.

Despite my grief, I feel so grateful for the time I’ve had with my precious Bruce. I have been blessed to share my life with this devoted dog. He is much more to me than a mere pet — Bruce is my furry family member and my four-legged child.

That night, despite the bad news, our home felt peaceful, as though we were covered with a blanket of love. So many people had reached out with kind words and prayers.

A Dream — and a Realization

I awoke early the next morning from a vivid dream: I was walking with Bruce, but I was moving slowly and was hunched forward as if carrying a very heavy load in my arms. Bruce turned and looked at me. He told me I needed to let go of the weight I was carrying and play with him instead. I stared down at the ball in my hands and felt the weight slide away.

The dream felt prophetic. I realized that no matter how Bruce’s path unfolds as we seek further diagnosis and treatment, I can’t let myself be overwhelmed by worry, sorrow and anxiety. Bruce needs me to be present for him, enjoying the moments of happiness and love we have together.

I know that whatever treatments we choose, one of the best ways I can help Bruce — whose heart is always in a good game of fetch — is by simply letting go, enjoying my time with him and throwing that ball.

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