Dear Max,

It’s been one year. How can it feel like last week and a lifetime ago at the same time? Remember this time last year? You were sick. No one knew why. I had my intuitive feelings/suspicions and the vet had her tests and exams. She was wrong – we’re still not sure if I was right. We tried all the things and every day, twice a day, I drove the hour to see you, to give you meds, to be with you. Back and forth, back and forth. And even then, tired, weary, worried I knew there was no place I would rather be.

Gracie was worried and you knew it. Despite feeling poorly, you comforted her. She pawed at you and hardly left your side. It rained – poured actually – yet there we were in the wind and the rain and the mud. You as patient as always allowing me to squeeze the tube of medicine into your mouth. Me wishing it would help. It didn’t. Not for long anyway.

And then the day came. I always knew it would. In fact, I always felt as though I was on borrowed time. We all were. It was so special – a gift out of the blue that I still can’t believe I received, that I’ve never been able to explain. You weren’t my horse but I was your person and Gracie was your best friend. We all taught one another – there was an innocence about us. When my phone pinged that morning as I sat at my desk, I knew. The ping sounded like all the other pings but it felt different. Because it was. I didn’t read it right away – I didn’t have to. Instead, I got up and walked into the kitchen and made a pot of tea. I let it steep and then I poured a cup. I waited for it to cool and took a sip. And then I read the message informing me that you would be moving. I knew Texas was closing its door – it had already thrown me to the ground from you a few months earlier – so hard that I had broken bones and a concussion. So hard that I was knocked out and as I came to lying in the field I knew it was almost over. Texas was telling me the time was near in the way that only Texas could tell me. She was waking me up and letting me know – the clock is ticking. You started getting sick a month later.

I told you so many times how I had fallen in love. Not with a man – but with a place. With a dream of living in northern New Mexico – a place that felt like home the first time I stepped foot into the county. A place that moved me to tears without any explanation. I recognized that I had found where I was supposed to be – a lifetime of not fitting the suit – I had found the suit.

When you moved my heart ached with the void you left. Yet, I knew you were fine and I knew I was next. The Universe made sure that you were home and settled and gave my heart time to relax. Within a few short months New Mexico literally called me. She had thrown open her doors and I was prepared to walk through them.

One year ago seems like last week in many ways. I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday but I remember last year with you like it was earlier today. When Gracie and I visited you the final time it was like time had not elapsed. All of our routines were right there, still in place and Gracie – same as it ever was – hardly left your side. You were so content that it was impossible for me to feel sad. Concerned I would cry; I had brought tissues along just in case. They weren’t needed. None of us were sad – there was no need.

This Thanksgiving my heart is filled with gratitude for the years and experiences we shared and with the knowledge that we are all exactly where we are supposed to be. I told you many times that someday I was going to write a book about you and Gracie. I did and it came out this week.

And so it is. Your move was the catalyst for my move. You’re at home now and so am I. Gracie is happy. Sometimes when I’m feeling brave, I’ll say your name to her and she runs to the door every time. A year, a state, a lifetime away – it doesn’t matter. You are still in our hearts.

Same as it ever was, Max. Same as it ever was.