1. Rita. My “Aunt” Rita died Wednesday night. We weren’t biologically related but she’s been a part of my family for as long as I can remember, is/was one of my mom’s best friends. She and her husband John and two boys moved in across the street from us when I was maybe three or four years old, and my mom and her became fast friends and stayed that way for the rest of their lives even after they moved away, regularly writing letters and visiting.

Just before they moved away, the boy’s aunt got them a puppy to soften the blow of moving, a tiny black and gray cockapoo they named Muffin. If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you know that Muffy was the first dog I loved big. They moved about four hours away and at least once a year we went to visit. As much as I loved seeing Rita and her family, the biggest draw for me was that sweet little dog who loved me as much as I loved her.

When they moved again, it was to a house by the beach in Washington a little over three hours away. At that point, my brother’s girls were old enough to go with us, so it became their summer trip to see Rita and her two grandsons at the beach too. We’d spend our days walking on the nearby beach looking for shells and heart shaped rocks, taking the bus to the nearby town of Long Beach where we’d walk along the boardwalk and visit the little tourist shops, playing SkipBo or doing puzzles, reading and taking naps, eating good food (she made the BEST pies) and making each other laugh. Those trips are some of my best memories.

For the past few years, Rita has been in memory care and in the past few weeks in hospice, so her death wasn’t unexpected and yet, when someone has been a constant and beloved part of your life for so many years, it’s hard to imagine the world without them in it. I’m so grateful to have known, loved and been loved by her.

2. Colorado sky. I haven’t been able to go on morning walks, am still working my way back up to that, but I’ve gone on short walks and sat in the backyard and got to see the sky doing what it does.

3. Naps. In the comfort of my own bed with my blackout shades and sleep mask and various pillows and blankets and clean sheets and something playing on my phone, a podcast or a music playlist. As much as walking and getting in the pool and sitting in the sunshine these naps are essential to healing, to being well.

4. Spring, in particular the green and the blooms.

5. My tiny family, tiny home, tiny life. As I sleep in most mornings while I’m healing from surgery, Eric has been flooding me with kitchen counter love notes, along with all the other ways he’s loving and caring for me. Ringo got to go play with one of his favorite people this week, Teri his physical therapist. He doesn’t really need to keep going, he’s doing so well, but he just loves working with her so much and she has all kinds of cool “toys” to play with.

Bonus joy: the hydromassage chair, the pool, sitting in the sauna or the backyard with Eric, good books, good TV and movies, listening to podcasts, practice, being able to rest, not having to rush, seeing Janice, hanging out with Mikalina, a warm shower, peach sorbet, green grapes, muffins, how warm Ringo’s fur is when he comes inside after lounging in the backyard, the riot of birdsong in the morning, birds at the feeder, reading in bed at night while Eric and Ringo sleep.

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