Xenodochial is an adjective that means “friendly to strangers.” At least that’s what http://adjectivesstarting.com/ claims.
My go-to source for most things word related, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, doesn’t recognize that form of the word so I can’t say for sure it exists. But I’m going to use it because it works for what I want to write about. Because two days ago it was “X” day for the A-Z Blog Challenge.
Because two days ago, we had to say good-bye to our sweet Golden Retriever.
We adopted Rocco four years ago. Even then, he had enough white fur on his face and body to tell us that he was an older pup. Still, he was energetic and healthy for most of time we had him. And, like most Golden Retrievers, he loved just about everyone—friends and strangers alike.
A few months ago, things changed. His health and vitality began to decline until finally his suffering, his struggle to breathe and eat, became too much.
It was a gloomy, atypical rainy day in San Diego County when we gathered around Rocco as a family, stroked his once-golden fur, and said tearful good-byes to our faithful friend. We were there when he took his last breath.
I couldn’t help but think of the day—two years ago—I sat by my dad’s bedside, held his once-strong hand, and sobbed as I told him how much I loved him. I was there when the first man I ever loved took his last breath.
In Rocco’s final moments, he lifted his head and looked toward the door of the vet’s office. Maybe it was a normal reaction. Maybe he noticed a change taking place in his body. Maybe it was electrical impulses. I prefer to think he was responding to a loving call to transition to the other side of life.
I wonder if it was my dad—who always enjoyed visits from our happy, loving dog—he heard. Maybe Rocco recognized the man who slipped him pizza crust when he thought we weren’t looking.
In any case, I know Rocco is being taken care of. I know I will see him again. I also know we will always love and miss him.
Good-bye, sweet Rocco.