Max has always supported me. Sure he gives me wry looks occasionally…
But overall Max has been there for me. There have been times when I was lonely or frustrated or very confused about what to do next and Max provided me with company, comfort, and the kind of care that can re-center me when things start becoming chaotic.
And Max has supported me in the exciting, fun times too. When I have felt adventurous or when our lives moved through new changes, or when I felt like sitting outside and soaking in the day, Max was right there with me, providing encouragement, eagerness, and the kind of presence than amplifies as much enjoyment as possible.
Max has supported my joy with shared joy and my mourning with shared mourning. To a large degree that is an honest form of compassion – Max is feeling with me, something I think most dogs do well. Max has taught me that the foundation of support is such compassionate presence. And since Max has no words to offer, the presence part of this work shines out.
Max has also taught me that often support really feels like a holding up or together. Whether in a sad or happy moment, Max’s compassion steadies me and his consistent presence helps keep things from unraveling. In showing me all that support, Max has taught me how it makes a difference and what a gift it is to offer to someone else.
But even beyond his individual presence, Max has taught me much about the importance of a whole support system. I found out this week that the family (except for Max) would need to go out of town somewhat suddenly, and as is often the case an offer to watch Max was extended before I even asked around. In preparing for this unexpected event, he has helped me see and appreciate the many sources of support in my life.
Making sure Max is taken care of when I have to leave him home could be a major source of stress in my life, but because there are thoughtful people (and because Max is a charmer and makes plenty of friends), both Max and I have been able to rely on a system of communal support.
Often I forget or am reluctant to ask for help, both for watching Max and plenty of others things in my life. Part of that is not wanting to be a burden on others and part of it is thinking I can take care of everything myself. But then I remember the ways Max has offered me a consistent, compassionate presence that creates a foundation to bear that kind of burden. Max reminds me how good it is to rely on such support and to be honest about needing it.
Ultimately, Max has taught me the real value of not trying to go it alone. Whether it was his own presence or the people around us who stepped in to watch him, Max regularly shows me the value of a community of people (and animals) that can offer each other the foundation and care needed to hold everything together.
So thank you Max for teaching me the value of supporting one another. Thank you for holding me up and being there when I have needed or wanted your presence. And thank you to all who make up our support system – your care not only impacts us, but also hopefully ripples out throughout the world.