Updated: Aug 2, 2021
“ When I turned, he was leaning forward, making pretend paddling motions in the water with his paw. “That’s it, babe, you’ve got this, just keep going, a little at a time.” "
Luke has followed me each day farther out into the lake, stopping to observe my every move. He stares with his head cocked as I jump forward and splash into the water and then turn and swim back to him, doggie style for him to imitate. Each time, he steps forward a little more, then a little more, before backing up and onto the dock where he runs out to greet me as I float up. He is no longer afraid that I will pull or push him because, this summer, I showed him a commitment to not touch him when we were at the water’s edge, gaining his trust. Tonight, as the sun began to set and we walked down the trail for our nightly splash, I could not hold back the tears I have been feeling all day, some for the last moments of our beautiful and bonding vacation together, but mostly for the finality of tomorrow when someone we loved very much will take yet another big step away from us. Luke and I may never see him again. But Luke didn’t think of tonight as anything but daily swim practice, so he waded out up to his chest, then his chin, as I passed him, wiping the tears from my face and thanking Krishna for this gorgeous day before diving in. When I turned, he was leaning forward, making pretend paddling motions in the water with his paw. “That’s it, babe, you’ve got this, just keep going, a little at a time.” He splashed more without turning around, scared but determined. “You’ve done so well this summer,” I said to him. “Take as long as you need…I won’t push you…you’re doing great…I’m so proud of you.” And I stopped, hearing these words of encouragement and compassion that I offered to him with love. I smiled. They are the exact words I could say to myself, as this unexpected, difficult, painful, joyous, enlightening summer comes to an end. As I learn to swim all over again, scared but determined. And one step at a time.