Guest Post by Todd Nigro
A creature was born in the name of Grief four years ago. He was a little dachshund puppy named Maverick.
Although I wasn’t around during his early days, here’s what I imagine…
As with every litter, there is a runt, and he was the runt. Not only was he small, but he is blind in one eye. He was picked on and mistreated by his siblings and by his owner, a little boy with a chip on his shoulder. This boy didn’t know any better, but he tormented little Maverick daily. When Maverick didn’t understand, he was kicked. When he was hungry, he ate whatever he could. Maverick’s world was unpredictable, unfair, and a challenge every day. Maverick was Grief.
One day we were driving by a run-down house with a sign that said, “Puppies for sale!” My kids had been bugging me forever and we couldn’t help ourselves. We stopped and saw poor little Maverick. After my Ellie held him, it was obvious he was coming home with us. Ellie and Maverick became the best of friends. They visited all the neighbors, made videos together, and walked every day. Despite Maverick’s background, he was a good friend to Ellie. She called him Maverick, “The Wolf” because of his sometimes “dark” side.
Our six-year-old daughter, Ellie, died in a tragic accident on January 20, 2012. A few weeks later, we noticed Maverick running around the living room and barking. We looked in to watch him. He was running up to a large picture of Ellie. He would stop, look at her, and bark a few times. Then, he would run a few circles around the living room and do it all over again. This went on for quite some time. It was clear that he was playing with his buddy, Ellie.
Why does Maverick personify Grief?
He is difficult and unpredictable.
You don’t know when he might lash out and bite you, so I’m always careful around him.
Maverick is a part of us and mostly, a special part of our Ellie.
Because Maverick loved Ellie, there is a place in our home for him for as long as he lives.
Yes, he is hard to deal with.
Will he ever soften and become a warm and comfortable dog all the time? I doubt it.
Much like grief, Maverick and I have to work hard to coexist–to get through the hard while enjoying the happy at the same time.
That said, much like Grief, I’ve come accept him for who he is and we’ll make it through our lives together as we both remember our Ellie.
Todd Nigro is the father of three, two boys, and a forever six-year-old daughter, Ellie. After Ellie’s death, he and his wife, Kristen, founded Ellie’s Way, a nonprofit ministry that provides comfort to the grieving through grief gifts, online groups, and a website. Check out the Ellie’s Way Mother’s Day Giveaway at www.elliesway.org/giveaway.