By Francie Lora
Every time I spy a red golden retriever, every cell in my body hops. My Julius was born on my oldest daughter’s bed when she was twelve, along with a dozen brothers and sisters amidst squeals and the steady voice of my nine-year-old, reading puppy birthing instructions from a corner on the floor.
Julius broke his leg as a puppy, and as Hurricane Hugo destroyed its recovery, at the age of eight months he had to have a hip replacement. Two years later he rode shotgun in a U-Haul truck as we moved from Charleston, South Carolina to New York City, and as my girls grew and left home, he and I became soul-mates, room-mates, companions and protectors. Who and what would we be without our beloved four-leggeds?
Eighteen years ago, on a beautiful December morning, Julius and I set out on our usual early morning walk around the Natural History Museum on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. A friend had given me a magnificent Nikon camera and I was excited at the notion of capturing my New York for posterity and fun. Julius and I fetched our morning bagel (I ate the insides and he had the crust), then we trotted down the path to Central Park at 77th Street. There were brand new baby swans in the water with their mother and I wanted to get up close with my camera. I decided to escort Julius home and come back alone, as his scent might scare the goslings away. When I returned, I leaned out over the stone wall at the edge of the pond and that is the last thing I remember.
I woke up in the hospital. The end of my attack had been witnessed by a couple strolling down from The Ramble. Apparently, a group of young men had come up behind me, smashed my head down on the wall and then kicked and kicked my mid-section. The reason will always be a mystery, as my camera was not even taken. The bottom line for this story is that I was not allowed to be released from the hospital unless there was someone at home to take care of me. I filled out the paper work and was released to Julius Lora.
You came through for me so, so many times and my joy-filled cells show me every day how dear you are to me still, Julius. And we did make it to a land of butterfly meadows and mountain grasses before you passed, just as I promised, where you dance in swirling winds forever.
Time does not exist in love. Thank you for loving me, darling creature!