From the moment we first laid eyes on one another, it was effortless. You showed me what love felt like. Slowly but surely, you transformed me from a fifteen-year-old girl who needed someone to love her into a twenty-five-year-old woman who realized somewhere along the way that all she needed was herself.
I remember bringing your paw print into a tattoo studio at eighteen. I wanted it to look like your left paw had been “pressed into my skin” right above my left foot – a symbol of us walking the path, together. I thought I knew then how deeply you had impacted me, when in truth a tattoo could never symbolize the way you have changed me. For the better.
Getting older brought out your sweetness like a finely aged wine. A pearl of wisdom emerged, hidden just behind your eyes, as if it was an inside joke that you were going to let us in on eventually. Your tenacity grew, too. Even when you couldn’t walk anymore, you could see how badly you wanted to keep fighting. You did, our brave and silly little warrior. Yet beyond your stubbornness, your dad and I knew there was a plan greater than we could fathom.
Your body told us when, and we listened just in time for you to spend your last days feasting with an international palate – pizza, tacos, sushi, and ribeye steak. We would relive those days a million times if we could, but no amount of life lived with you could ever be enough.
Yes, you’re not here in quite the same ways. But you’re here, in every moment. This year, you occupy the pink and purple linings in every sunset. The butterflies who flutter in the grass. In every grain of sand, every gust of wind, your presence makes itself known. Our love is always close and never far.
Where could you go, anyway?
Delilah Mae Borkoski-Bernstein
September 8, 2012 – August 11, 2023