Out of nowhere came a small breeze, barely perceptible. A nothing sort of breeze I would normally ignore. Today I noticed. Today I noticed because these days I notice everything about my dog Brutus. My sweet side-kick who spends these days, weeks, and now months of social distancing not feeling so distant at all. He spends his days next to me, curled up tightly next to me, on the couch on our front porch.

Brutus, Boo-Bear, Boo, Boodie-Boo. My chocolate brown pit-bull mix. My buddy. My companion. My confidant whose presence has always been irresistible over these past 7 years. How could he not be? He is the most beautiful handsome dog that has ever lived (#fact). He melts the hearts of even non-dog lovers (I know, it’s weird, but apparently there are some of those people out there). 

Besides melting hearts, he has been responsible for repairing them too. Mine and my daughters. Brutus came to our family barely a year after my husband died. We thought we were rescuing him. But as it turned out, he was rescuing us. Companioning us through the darkest days of our grief. Licking away our tears, listening to our stories, reassuring us that we are not alone.

Brutus came to our family barely a year after my husband died. We thought we were rescuing him. But as it turned out, he was rescuing us.

The truth is like the pandemic has taught us all to appreciate the things we take for granted in our day to day lives, I now pay ever more attention to my sweet boy. I notice him more as these days his breathing has become labored with any movement and sometimes with no movement at all.

As we began our daily ritual today, me drinking coffee, and him trying to find which of his favorite curled up positions would suit him best to begin the day, Brutus woke me to this gentle wind. He raised his head ever so slightly and began to breathe it in. His breath woke me to this moment. To notice first that I had been holding my breath. I have been doing that a lot lately as I stare at my Boo. Watching and waiting for any signs that the awful terminal diagnosis he recently received will come to fruition at this moment … or the next … or the one after that.

First I noticed his breath. I found myself mirroring his actions. Thanks for the reminder buddy. I do need to breathe. I took in what felt like the first conscious breath of the morning. Then, I watched him more intently. His nose wrinkling and twitching as each gust of wind brought a new scent his way. His eyebrows tossing this way and that as the breeze forced the leaves in our struggling potted palm to bounce up and down. I followed his gaze down to notice the spider web that had formed in the corners of the lantern sitting beneath the potted palm. The web floating rather elegantly up and down, finding ease as it rode the breeze like a wave.

Thanks to my sweet side-kick Brutus and his attention to this small moment I caught the intoxicating scent of jasmine. Jasmine I had never noticed before but that must be growing nearby. The gift of his noticing allowed me to savor the sweetness as it traveled to our little love nest on the front porch. In that instance, I hopped on that breeze and traveled. Floating into moments across the years when the scent of flowers was so powerful that I was forced out of my day to day haze and stood rapt in attention at the wonder that smell could bring so much joy and delight.

Brutus reminded me that I should lift my head and face the breeze and take in the sweet smells that life brings my way.

In what could have been an hour or a second, the breeze decided to take a rest. I know this not because I felt it, but because my Brutus decided to lay his head back down, resting his chin on the edge of our oasis.

And so my attention returned to him once again. Somehow changed a little though. My heart is so heavy that these moments we have together are coming to an end. Yet I’m aware that when new breezes come, I will recall this moment we shared. This moment of love and companionship. This moment of noticing the small and the sweet. This moment he reminded me that all we have is this moment and we should lift our heads and face the breeze and take in the sweet smells that life brings our way.

My pitbull rescue dog who actually rescued me from the depths of my grief.


  • Lisa Keefauver, MSW

    Grief Activist, Writer, Speaker, Educator and Podcast Host

    Reimagining Grief

    A nationally known grief and empathy expert, Lisa Keefauver’s wisdom runs deep, from her personal and professional experiences over the past 20+ years. At 40, her husband Eric died in her arms, leaving her a widow and single mother to their 7-year-old daughter. Just a few years later, she was by the bedside of a close friend when he succumbed to the ravages of Muscular Dystrophy. Professionally she spent the past 2 decades as a clinical social worker and narrative therapist, witnessing the unnecessary suffering of so many individuals because their families, communities, and culture weren’t supporting them in their grief. Called the “Brene Brown of Grief and Loss,” (Tracey Wallace, Eterneva) Lisa uses her warmth, vulnerability, humor, and therapeutic skills to reimagine grief, leading a movement to change the narratives of grief.