Rochelle Weinstein

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Hi {{ subscriber.firstName | default('Friends') }},
First, let me apologize.
To you.
Because when you posted about losing your dog, I probably gave you a sad face or a broken heart emoji. 
I didn't know. 

I thought I understood grief. 
I lost my mother at forty-two.
And I lost other people and things. Not to death, but something that evoked similar feelings of loss.

At twenty-two, I was sitting in my office in Los Angeles when I received the call from my mother about Shana's passing. 
Shana was our dog. Growing up, we had a job chart, and I remember the days when it was my turn to walk her--way better than doing dishes and emptying garbages. But it was a job. An obligation. And my mom succeeded at teaching us responsibility, but Shana wasn't my dog. She was the family dog. The bulk of the bigger responsibilities landed on Mom. The middle of the night diarrhea, her fear of balloons, her old age. I remember welling up when Shana died, savoring the vet's thoughtful words, feeling the momentary sadness but then quickly returning to life.

At thirty-six, my friend Doug came to town. The twins were six, and we'd just put the challenging baby years behind us--no more diapers or middle-of-the-night feedings, a steady rhythm of school and sports and schedules. Doug dragged me to a puppy store (eek) in Boca, and I pointed at Jessie, remarking on her cuteness. This was January, and my birthday was approaching, and unbeknownst to me, Bear threw the kids in the car the very next day and scooped Jessie up. For me. 

They were so excited. I, not so much.
"Isn't this the best surprise ever?"
Admittedly, I was terrified. 
Terrified of the commitment, the responsibility, the imminent changes to our routine.

We hired a trainer; Jessie learned sit and paw, but that was pretty much it. She bombarded the dinner table, constantly begged, yelping when we ignored her, until one of the twins suggested we put her in another room during meals. She ran our household, and I didn't hold a candle to this 10 lb strong-willed temperamental fur ball. Jessie did it HER WAY.

Who pees in their Fresh Patch and then naps in it? She's bitten strangers, nipped at feet and noses, and was a terrible flier. She regularly chased the UPS and Fed Ex trucks down the street, though I was never really sure what she would do had she actually caught them. She bullied her brother Jimmy for years, guarding the water bowl, literally sitting in front of it so he couldn't get to it, and she did the same with the stairs. 
Her shrilly bark had gotten us numerous complaints, kicked out of hotels, and nasty emails from our neighbors. Jessie thought the world was her buffet, and she did not discriminate. Poop was a personal favorite. She barked at everyone and everything, and rarely played nicely at the dog park. Boy, was she stubborn.

She had a soft side too. She was the one to lick my tears when I mourned for my mother, and she sat loyally by my side as I wrote six of my eight novels. She loved the boat, the wind in her dumbo ears, and she always found the patch of sunshine. She was an ambitious fetcher, and she loved the boys and their friends, chasing them around the house, sneaking into their beds. Don't tell me we didn't know how to communicate. She tilted her head, understanding my every word. 
Jessie saw us through every single milestone: a new home, a B'nai mitzvah, high school and college graduations, moving home and moving out. She loved the car, sticking her head out the window, and that God-awful breath. She slept across our shoes, and there are theories on this, but I'll always believe it was her way of being close to us. She was, for a time, my very best friend.

Jessie had been slowly fading the last two years. In the end, she was blind and deaf, on multiple medications, suffered from sundown syndrome, dementia, weak hind legs, and wore a diaper. We had become her 24-hour private nurses. Our lives revolved around her care and comfort. I thought her death would bring relief, and in some ways it did, but it didn't come close to the grief. Or the void. 
Jessie was a pet. 
An animal.
Processing the depth of the sadness was hard.
Why was I so broken?
Then a friend reached out.
She had lost two dogs within months. 
She may have mentioned crying almost as long (and harder) for her fur babies than she had for some loved ones. 
Okay, I thought. That's strange. Right?
But here's the thing. I felt that. 
You slept in bed with Jessie for seventeen years.” 
And that's when it clicked.
And now I know. 
I know what it means to truly mourn a dog.
I never thought Jessie would become another story, but here we are. Her presence in my life was constant. Her devotion unconditional (unless food was involved). There's something about the history she holds that cracks me open. She was the witness to our lives, the keeper of our truths. In her eyes I saw two boys playing football on the field, two teenagers learning to drive, two young adults packing for college. She filled our hearts and our home, and even though she may have never spoken a single word, she told me everything. And I loved her. 

I'm sorry I didn't know.
I didn't understand how a four-legged fur ball could leave such a gaping hole in your heart.
Now I do. 
And if you read my Instagram post, the same holds true: How lucky are we to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard (Winnie the Pooh).
Okay. Debbie Downer is finished. Hold your pups close and cherish every single moment. Don't let anyone ever tell you they're just a dog/cat, etc. They are family. To lighten the mood, let's give away books! Are you ready?  
Reply to this post with your pet's name and any special memory. For those without pets, just write back and tell me what you've read recently and loved. I'm giving away the following:
FIVE (5) signed copies of Kerry Lonsdale's latest gem, Find Me In California. Releases June 11, 2024.
TWO (2) copies of Melissa Trombetta's I Thought I Knew
ONE (1) copy of Samantha Woodruff's The Lobotomist's Wife. Today is Sam's Birthday so extra entries if you wish her a Happy Birthday. 
ONE (1) signed copy of Jackie Friedland's The Stockwell Letters.
ONE set of Linda Rosen's three latest novels. 
That's a total of TEN (10) winners to be chosen on June 10, 2024.
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March/April Reads featured on Women Writers Women's Books... 

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Miami friends, please join us... 

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For Kindle Unlimited Subscribers. A fabulous FREE read... 

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Hugs and love,


Please excuse any typos. Sometimes I make mistakes!