I miss Makai

"I miss Makai."

This is the phrase we have come to expect from Xavier anytime he is sad, lonely, or dealing with new emotions he doesn't understand.
This is what we heard first when we faced the first real loss of a person he loved, last year when we said an unexpected goodbye his great-grandfather.

Makai was Xavier's first best friend, his protector, our furry beast.
Makai was my practice baby. He was harder at nights the first few weeks than our real babies have ever been.

The night Xavier was born, we brought home one of his hospital blankets and the look on Kai's face after he sniffed it was "bout time".

When X was 4 days old, Kai pushed himself in between the door frame, half in half out, and growled endlessly at the utility workers outside, challenging them to get anywhere near his baby.

For almost 4 years, every time B or I walked out of the room that X was still in, we got a death stare and a bark as if to say "hello, stupid parent... you can't leave this little person alone. Let me in and I'll take over."
One of X's first clear words was "boof", which we quickly figured out was what he was calling Kai, "woof" but with one-year-old speech mix-ups.

That crazy fur-brain golden retriever mix who we were sure was half miniature pony got the opportunity to escape when the howling Thanksgiving wind blew a section of our back fence down in 2010.  Instead he walked around the block to the front door and sat patiently waiting to be let back inside.
Upon moving from our rental to our first house, our neighbor gave away Kai's secret. That the genius used to nudge the fence latch open, take himself for walks, come home, and somehow manage to pull it shut and nose the latch back into place so we were none the wiser.
Kai would destroy anything filled with poly-cotton batting (blankets, stuffed animals, etc.). One winter he shredded his dog bed, pulled the stuffing into the corner under a pine tree, and slept warm and peaceful in a cottony snowdrift even when the temps dipped below zero.
B and I had already decided that years down the road, when Kai was an old man dog and finally headed to the wide open pastures of doggy heaven, we wouldn't get another. Finding dog sitters is harder than regular babysitters.

When Kai never woke up from his afternoon nap three years ago, we knew the answer to everyone's question of "will you get another dog?" Most definitely not.

What I didn't expect was the final gift Kai left in my heart.
We had put the baby discussion to rest a year and a half before.  I hadn't felt that need for a year.  But once Kai was gone, I realized that hole was still there.  I miss Kai but when I spontaneously answered my brother's question with "no more dogs, but I really want a baby", I realized what Kai gave us.

I brought 8 week old Makai home from the shelter that Saturday in April 2009 as a last ditch effort to fill my broken, baby-less heart.

Makai loved kids and these girls he made room for would be right up his alley.

There are nights I close the curtains and still expect to see his huge blond head and red velvety ears staring back at me.

I miss Makai but I sure am glad he opened the door for these girls I love.


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