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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Calm (emotionally) (09/13/07)

TITLE: With Love to Sophie
By Joy Faire Stewart


How could Christmas festivities be continuing as her heart was shattering like a delicate Faberge egg carelessly dropped on the antiseptic tile floor beneath her feet? If she owned such a Faberge piece, she would gladly exchange it for the inevitable.

Ellen sat quietly in one of the clinicís examining rooms, peering through the oversized, curtainless window. Across the street, kids zipped along the sidewalk on Heelies dodging shoppers as they exited the department store laden with bright holiday shopping bags.

The clinicís corridors were alive with activity. Doctors were giving orders, dispensing medication, and patients were being ushered into rooms. Ellen overheard employees discussing the Christmas party they attended the night before.

ďDid you see Rogerís gag gift? His wife was so embarrassed,Ē Ellen heard someone say,
but the response was lost in the fading sound of footsteps.

In the room where Ellen and Sophie waited, a small, ceramic Christmas tree with red doves perching on its boughs seemed out of place against the stark gray walls. The tree glistened as if kissed by new fallen snow. What Child is This? softly played throughout the clinic.

For days following Thanksgiving, Ellen decorated her home inside and out with wonderful Christmas items she had collected since Sophie became part of her life. The large tree in the living room took almost a day to decorate. Sophie had her very own miniature tree covered with cat ornaments hanging from every branch.

It had been nineteen years since she had given Sophie a home when no one else wanted her. She had been a scrawny little thing, barely making a sound as she became Ellenís shadow. In spite of being a picky eater, she had flourished under Ellenís watchful eye. Over the years, they became soul mates.

As Ellen waited for Dr. Jordan, she gently caressed Sophieís face while she sang the words of her favorite Bible verses.

...yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me...

Ellen felt herself relaxing as she sang the lyrical words she memorized as a child, and Sophie - always sensitive to Ellenís mood and emotions - seemed calmer as well.

Over the past year, Sophieís health had begun to deteriorate. There had been weekly trips to the doctor, then twice a week. Her body began to shut down, her kidneys failing. Everything medically possible had been done.

She and Sophie had so many wonderful times together. Ellen loved to travel, and sometimes Sophie went, too. She didnít like the actual traveling, but loved being with Ellen wherever adventures took them. Their favorite vacations were to the beaches along the west coast of Florida. Sophie loved to watch the fiddler crabs; on her first close encounter with one, she learned to keep a safe distance as it skimmed across the warm, golden sand.

Sophie was terrified of thunderstorms. When lightning flashed and thunder sounded as if all the angels of Heaven had traded their harps for bass drums, Ellen would awaken to find Sophie next to her, sleeping calming.

They had shared sorrowful times, too. Sophie was there when Ellen lost her father that dreadful winterís day. And on the morning when Ellenís brother was taken off life support and she had cried until her tears were as dried dust upon a rain-starved riverbed, Sophie was there.

Ellen had never been able to stand the sight of blood, even becoming nauseated when watching a medical procedure on television. Over the past difficult year, she had left the room when Sophie was given injections. But not today. Today, Ellen would be there.

Today was the only time Ellen could remember not being in a hurry to see Dr. Jordan - today she could wait. When he entered the room, the only sound in Ellenís ears was the music drifting through the clinic...

Jesus our brother kind and good
Was humbly born in a stable of wood
And the friendly beasts around Him stood
Jesus our brother kind and good...

This would be Sophieís last visit to the clinic. She gazed up with big, soulful eyes, slowly blinking as Ellen rubbed her black velvety ears, kissed her paws, and watched Sophie fall fast asleep.

Scripture: Psalms 23:4 (KJV)
*The Friendly Beasts: French carol, 12th century; English lyrics by Robert Davis (1881-1950).

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This article has been read 1176 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lisa Graham09/20/07
This beautifully written piece touched me deeply and brought me to tears. You captured all the sights, sounds, and emotions with aching tenderness in this memorial to a faithfully loyal friend and companion. I, too, walked this road when it was time to say goodbye to my special little friend, a beautiful Siamese who stayed by my side every day of her fourteen years. Thank you for writing this achingly beautiful piece.
julie wood09/22/07
I loved this story! Very moving and with beautiful, vivid descriptions--I felt as though I were there.

The ending did catch me by surprise, however. Through most of the story, I assumed Sophie was a human being and pictured her as a child or young woman with a serious illness and/or multiple disabilities. That she turned out at the end to be a dog really threw me! Am curious if this was intentional on the part of the author.

Great title--a personal name in a title always sparks my curiosity.
Jan Ackerson 09/24/07
Oh, so sad! But a lovely tribute to the Sophies of the world (my own beloved Sophie is a cat...)
Beth LaBuff 09/24/07
Your entry is very well-written and would touch the heart of anyone who has said goodbye to beloved pet. It sounds like Sophie had an amazing life with you.
Joanne Sher 09/24/07
Very well done! Excellent descriptions - very visual in every way.
Catrina Bradley 09/25/07
Superb writing. Your descriptions of the clinic and Ellen's emotions was great. Thank you for sharing this difficult time. Our pets are beloved members of our families.
Sherrie Jackson09/25/07
Beautiful prose, and the memories are heart-breaking.
Loren T. Lowery09/26/07
We will soon be going through a similar situation with our dog - your writing this beautiful tribute could not have come at a better time for us. Thank-you so much!
Sheri Gordon09/27/07
Congratulations on your highly commended. This is heart-wrenching -- and written very well. Good job.
Janice Cartwright09/27/07
This eally touched my heart. I too have had to see a beloved pet put down and it is heart-wrenching. They are so secure with us and dependent on our judgement and love to do what is best for them. Beautiful job of telling the story of master and pet.