It’s been over 5 months since my last post and frankly I don’t know why – there has been plenty to write about. I think my struggle to try and write “the perfect post”, like any excuse we hold onto, has kept me from doing what I want and need to do – and just write. The summer went by in a blur as summertime usually does. Work, home projects, 4th of July and daughters b-day, a quick trip here and there to our family place in Colorado and that’s a good summer normally. But this year, the girls also went to Wisconsin to see family and Jackson and I drove 1000 miles to Montana to fish. Fly-fishing is a love of mine, and Montana has always been on my bucket-list. Fortunately, Jackson loves it too and this year we fished the Bighorn river. It was perfect; couldn’t have asked for a better time. And that was it – while it was still July, summer was over; he had to go back to A&M and Alix would soon be starting her Sr year in high school. And then, life threw us a curveball with the unexpected passing of my only aunt – Aunt Mary, July 30th. A teacher for 40+ years, never married, and always eager to serve others, she was always present in our life – always there to help us in any way. She dedicated her life to her family – even if it meant great personal sacrifice. My heart is still aching and I know i’ll write more about her much more later. And that brings us to Belle – our 15 year old beloved black lab. We had made plans to go see Jackson at A&M last weekend. But Belle, who seemed to defy all the odds for over two years with her health, began to rapidly decline. Her pain pills weren’t working well, her vision declining and in short, I made the decision that it was just time. I knew she had some life left in her, but the pain and struggle she went thru finally seemed to overtake the good moments. I didn’t want the pain to get to the point where it was a panicked rush to the vet situation. She deserved better than that. She had been with us since 2002 – an early Christmas. She helped raise our kids – her happiness was just loving us, being with us wherever we were: at home, in Colorado, wherever. This was simply brutal. We made plans with our vet but then Jackson felt strongly that he needed to be with her and so – we made different plans. 500 miles is a long drive. And when your taking your family dog to say goodbye to her “boy” – it’s a lot longer. For 500 miles i thought about how she had blessed us so much. For 15 years she was there every day – at every birthday, every holiday; her joy was simply being with us. And so – she got what she would have asked for if she could talk; one last car trip adventure, to bury her head in her boys arms one last time, to be with all of us one last time. She was happy. And then in a moment, no more pain, she was just gone. I have been so blessed in life and this year was yet another reminder of how blessed. Somehow, thru pain and death, and the grieving that goes with it – God can show us a deeper appreciation.Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.