Farewell, My Best Girl

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Yesterday, we said goodbye to Tania, also known as Tania Marie Louise Ciccone von Huntington Smythe, Tina Toodles, Tipsy Toovington, and other aliases befitting a venerable woman of mystery and intrigue. She did her namesake proud.

Tania came to us a few months before Hurricane Katrina did. She was a foundling, taken in by a housemate who couldn’t keep her when he suddenly decided to move back where he’d come from. For over 16 years, Tania was a member of our pack, a close friend and confidante, and often, the only female in the house. She had endless adventures, and to be honest, she was better traveled than I will ever be.

Tania’s end had been looming for some time, but it was hard to make the call. Animals—including human animals—often tell you when they’re ready to go: they withdraw, they stop eating, they wind down. Tania never did: to the end, she loved walks, she loved cuddles, and she ate like a horse. But no matter how she fought it, her body betrayed her.

I’d hoped we’d be able to say goodbye at home, with Tania surrounded by her entire immediate family, but thanks to Hurricane Ida, our family was split—some remaining in New Orleans, the rest of us running for cover. Thankfully, we landed with family, in Chicago. Tania said goodbye on a beautiful late-summer morning, after a hearty breakfast and a long, long amble around the garden.

People much smarter than me have calculated that each time we draw breath, we inhale some of the same molecules that Julius Caesar exhaled when he died. I take comfort in knowing that with every breath, I am sharing some of the air that Tania breathed during her magnificent life on earth.

May her memory be a blessing.

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