The Gift I Never Knew I Needed

Dear Cody,

Today is your third birthday.  As I look back on the last 3 years or so since you came into my life, I wanted to tell you how much you mean to me.

We were brought together by the universe.  The night I drove to Cleveland to attend a Make-A-Wish charity auction fundraiser, I had no intentions of bidding on any large package, let alone, a dog.  But as I drove those 2 hours up to Cleveland to meet some wonderful colleagues at the event, my mind had been on Cody H., my wishkid who had recently passed away.  Cody was a young man who I had the privilege of granting a wish for, and he taught me more about  life than just about anyone I have ever known.  When I arrived at the event, the first things I saw were two wiskkids walking with this cute, tiny puppy.  I went over to give this puppy some love, and as I bent over, the puppy went potty.  We laughed and cleaned it up quickly to not draw any attention.  I should have known this was a sign we were meant to be.  During the auction, I apologized to my table, indicating I wouldn’t be able to bid on a big package, but I would try to bid on a silent auction item.  One colleague said, ‘Don’t worry about it Julie, just bid on the first thing you see that you like – get your hand up there first.  You won’t win, but you’ll be a part of the action’.

The puppy I had seen with the wishkids was the first to get brought out for bid.  By bidding on this puppy, the winner would be helping to grant a wish for a wishkid.  I threw my paddle in the air and put the first bid out there. Everyone clapped,  it was fun to be a part of the energy in the room.  And then… no bids.  No bids.  And… no bids.  Make A Wish let me know they never had the dog go for only one bid.  I knew in my heart that for some reason, I was supposed to receive that dog, that evening, who had been named, ‘Wishes’.

That night I drove home with you,  my new puppy, I drove in shock for the 2 hours.  I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know how to take care of a dog.  I was a free spirit, a traveler… I wasn’t home often… I couldn’t take care of a dog!  But, as I drove and you nestled in my lap (I didn’t even know how to drive with a dog), I somehow had a quiet peace that I would just learn all of the things I didn’t know.  I decided on that drive home that your name would be Cody, after my wishkid who had passed.  I wanted to look at you everyday and be reminded of the wonderful lessons and inspiration that young man taught me.  And, I knew that in bidding on you, a child’s wish would be granted as well.  I knew you were a very special dog.

Throughout the past three years, I have had the best times of my life.  It has been such a humbling, amazing and inspiring journey to see you grow, to learn how to be a dog-mom and to learn the most special gift that you give, and that is you ability to give unconditional love.

You’ve been there through the most difficult days, when I thought the whole world was falling apart.  You’ve quietly sat next to me and put your paws on my leg or kissed my face as I had tears fall down.  You’ve come over and put your nose on the back of my calf to just say, ‘Mom, I am here’ in moments I was sad or lonely.  You’ve nestled next to me on days I was sick and enjoyed napping throughout the afternoon with me to warm my chills and give me comfort.

You’ve also taught me to get out of the house and take walks every day.  You’ve taught me how much a good game of fetch can make me laugh.  When I walk in the door, you’ve been waiting on me at the top of the stairs and you greet me as if I have been gone for 100 years.  Even if it is only a few minutes of being gone, you jump up and down and make ‘monkey noises’ and kiss me and run in circles around me to tell me how much you missed me.

This fall, when I brought Charlie (your little brother) home, you seemed worried at first.  You didn’t want things between us to change.  I didn’t either.  I told you every night how you would always be my first dog and no one else could ever change our bond.  I made sure you knew that, and you showed me you understood by taking Charlie under your wing and teaching him how to be a good dog.  I love you for doing that.  Charlie is a good boy because you have shown him ‘the ropes’.

You’ve taught me how to care for something who needs me.  I’ve never had anything or one in my life who really needed me.   I have to come home at night, because you need me.  I have to take you to the vet to monitor various things because, you need me.  And, I have to make time every day to pet and love you, because you need me.  It is the greatest responsibility I have had to date – to take care of you.  It is the thing I cherish most.

Cody Wilkes, I never planned on getting a dog.  I never knew how much I needed you.  But, since you’ve come into my life, my life has changed in amazing ways.   You’ve reminded of the most important things in life.  You’ve taught me that love is unconditional and no matter what happens, when we are together, everything will be ok.  You’ve made me laugh on days I wasn’t sure if I could find a smile.  And you’ve brought people into my life I would have never met if it hadn’t been for them wanting to come over and meet you on  a walk.

You are a furry angel for me and I don’t know what I would do without you.   I just always hope to be as good of a human as you think I am.  I always hope that you feel loved and you know how much I care about you.  You are such a precious gift in my life and I love you with all of my heart.

Happy Birthday, Cody Wilkes.  I can’t wait for all of our adventures to come.

Julie Wilkes