About twice a month I eat at Nini’s Coffee Shop in San Mateo. It’s a place where I always feel welcome, eat a good meal, and chat with the friendly staff. One of my favorites is Renae. Over the last year we have had brief, intermittent conversations about various topics, most recently about her vacation to Alaska. Today, I asked her what was new in her life. She diverted eye contact, lowered her voice, and proceeded to tell me about the recent death of her dog, Shyla. Renae said the suddenness of Shyla’s death was difficult; she died on August 21st. She was almost 12 years old and had been a part of Renae’s life since she was six months old. I shared with her a story about a ginger cat of mine named Reuben. One minute he was in the backyard of my parent’s house sitting next to the dog, Granger, only to be found dead in the same spot minutes later. I expressed my condolences to Renae. She told me how about a week and half ago she went for a walk with Shyla and told her how much she loved her, how much she appreciated her being in her life, her husband’s life, and the other dog’s life (Kenai), too.
“I had no idea what would happen. I’m so grateful I told her what she meant to me before she died.”
And there in the middle of Nini’s I scrambled to quickly grab a paper napkin from across the table to offer it to Renae. We both shed some tears for the pets in our lives that have meant or mean the world to us.
Kenai doesn’t know what’s happened to his girlfriend. I’m happy that Shyla heard from Renae for what was perhaps the umpteenth time about what she meant to her. Neither one knew it would be the last time.
Pictured: Shyla and Kenai
Thanks to Renae who shared her story and a photo with me and gave me permission to write about Shyla. May you rest in peace.