Every once in a while you read a book that touches you so deeply it becomes a part of you. When I was young, my mother shared, Angel Unaware by Dale Evans Rogers. A beautiful tribute to a child who was here only a short time, but who forever touched the lives of her parents, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Rogers and other special needs children, for which they were eternally grateful.
Our daughter had her own little angel unaware. He came on four legs, not two, but an angel nonetheless. This summer she cared for a super sweet bearded dragon lizard named Paco. She fell in love and began saving for her own lizard and tank. When we learned the seriousness of Olivia's brain and spinal cord issues, our family and dear friends moved forward with the dream.
In our family, we believe our pets chose us. Marley, our beloved Border Collie, a rescue, didn't want to leave when he first met the girls. When our daughter walked to the aquarium where the lizard was housed, he came over and stood on two legs at the side of the tank and looked inquisitively at her. She walked around the store to look for things she would need and when she came back, he was waiting. It was love at first sight for both. We brought him home, much to the joy of all. Little Tuko, nicknamed Taco to rhyme with Paco, helped our daughter immensely in the days leading up to her surgery.
He had not been home long before he developed a bacterial infection in his mouth. The vet noticed signs of metabolic bone disease, unusual for one so young. She suspected his mother had been calcium deficient and he was born with it. A bit of irony as it was one of the diseases our own daughter had been born with. The Lyme disease caused placental complications, resulting in severe intrauterine growth retardation and metabolic bone disease. At six months, she was diagnosed with severe rickets, a vitamin D deficiency. We felt even more empathy for Taco.
Sadly, a secondary respiratory infection developed and his condition worsened. He rallied to join our daughter when she returned to school for the first time after her surgery. He erased the physical pain of her incisions and the emotional worry of her hair. Taco had been a star in the class's get well cards and it was very important to our daughter that they get the chance to meet him. Last night he quietly passed away.
As my heart was breaking for my daughters, our youngest, so wisely reminded me of a line from one of her beloved books Houdini Was written by the second grade students of White Bluffs Elementary in Richmond, WA after their class hamster died. "Don't cry that it's over...be happy that it happened."
So I wiped my tears. Thank you, little Taco, for making some very difficult days so very special.