You may have read the book or watched the famous movie about the love and loss of a dog named Marley. I, too, had a Marley. A beautiful fourteen year old golden retriever who was given to me as a birthday present by my fiancé, and named by our daughter who wanted a sister named Marley; long before the book or the movie was popular.
The inspiration for my article is bitter sweet. Today, Valentine’s Day, we had to say good bye to Marley.
Marley taught me eight life lessons that I would like to share with you.
Marley was pure. A pure bred dog, but that’s not what I mean. She was authentic, real and true to herself as well as all people. If she was upset, (usually because she was being left behind) she would let us see her true emotion. Not viciously or with anger, but in body language and personality, you could tell the happy and sad feelings that she had. She never put on a front, or tried to be something she wasn’t. She was just confident being her true self.
Marley was patient. She would wait in the car, wait for us to return home, wait for her dinner, wait for her walks. She always waited patiently, but gently nudged us to do what she wanted.
Marley was trusting. I could do anything to her, and she trusted that it was ok. She used to ride on the front of my kayak, and trust that we would not tip. No matter how scared she was in any circumstance, Marley trusted the people around her for safety and survival.
Marley was obedient. She always did what she was asked to do, the first time she was asked to do it.
Marley made a significant contribution to people. Along with the generous supply of love that she gave out daily, she also brought mom’s slippers to the door when I came home from work, fetched Dad’s newspaper which was tossed into our yard in a blue plastic bag, and brought random shoes or mitts to visitors to welcome them to our home. Those were her ways to give, and she took every opportunity to serve others in these ways with a wagging tail.
Marley was a talented receiver, as well as a talented retriever. She allowed people to give her attention, to play with her and to pet her long golden fur. I guess instinctively she knew that in order to be a great giver of love to others, she also had to receive love back. Family, friends, office staff and neighbours loved this amazing dog.
Marley was loyal. She was trained to stay in the yard, she knew who her family was, and she never strayed.
And most amazing of all lessons, Marley loved unconditionally. She didn’t need circumstances to be a certain way before she would love people. She just did. With a joyful heart, a smile and a wagging tail, she loved us no matter what. Whether we were not attentive to her, or she was hungry, or restless or lonely, she gave us her best. I feel so blessed to have experienced these lessons, and to have had a teacher that never even had to speak a word. She led by example, day in and day out, for fourteen years.
What if we could live our days as authentic people, real and true to ourselves and our loved ones?
How would our lives be different if we could be patient and trust that everything is exactly as it should be?
How much more efficient would our lives be if we were obedient to the rules that have been established for the safety of ourselves and others?
What kind of family or work environment could we create if we gave one hundred percent of ourselves in service, and received from others what they have to offer us?
How can we be more loyal to the hand that feeds us?
What kind of love could we experience if we placed no conditions on people?
Valentine’s Day is a day to remember those who touch our hearts, and those who help shape us to be who we are.
Marley you made my world a better place. I love you and I miss you already. I bless the time we shared and the lessons you taught me - just by being YOU.
Today and everyday - may we all live with the unconditional love and lessons that Marley gave.