Life has a habit of hitting you when you least expect it. That hit me this week. 

My wife and I buried our beautiful Goldendoodle named Cooper Monday afternoon. Just 24+ hours earlier everything was fine – except it really wasn’t. 

Cooper was nine years old with a secret – a growing mass in his abdomen that was hidden, no one knew. It had been there probably for many months. He dealt with it because he had no idea it was deadly – until something happened Sunday to start the mass leaking into his system. And it was too late at that point to do anything. 

It was heartbreaking to see our big guy and family member hurting, getting worse by the hour. I rushed him to a local veterinarian early Monday morning but the die was cast. The professionals there gave us the bad news rather quickly. Nothing we could have done earlier, the tumor just took over. Not wanting our furry child to suffer, we made the difficult decision to let him sleep. The vet office folks were caring and sympathetic all the time which we appreciated. Cooper passed at 12:15 PM.

Sadly we brought our boy home Monday and laid him to rest in our large backyard area in Penns Valley. It took time to do some serious digging on a cold, gray, cloudy, windy December day. And we hated every blade of dirt we dug. We gently laid him in the grave and began shoveling the loose dirt on top. A lot of tears were shed.

And then – a miracle happened, at least I think it’s a miracle. On an absolutely dreadful day that was ugly and cold, as we were finishing our work the clouds parted in the western sky and the sun popped through. Not a trickle – the entire sun bathed us in sunlight for a few minutes. I immediately remarked to my wife – THERE’s a sign, one that our departed friend is OK and in a better place after his suffering. 

We will always remember Cooper with the hundreds of photos and videos we took of him over nine years. He was the best canine Happy Birthday singer out there, always crooning the tune with a growl. He loved to take hikes with me at one local venue – we did that last Thursday afternoon and all was well. If only we had known earlier.

But the miracle sticks with me – a coincidence that the clouds finally broke Monday afternoon at that exact time on what had been a totally cloudy day? Maybe – but I don’t think so. I’ll walk that hike route again and again in the future, imagining that my friend is by my side. I may shed a tear or two doing so, but I’ll be happy that my beloved Cooper is actually right there with me, and will see me again face to face someday. A much happier day. 

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