The Loss of a Golden Legacy


Beloved Kelsey, 2002-2015--almost 14 years old.

As told by my most precious Nathan

I pressed my phone closer to my ear to make sure I heard correctly; as the repeated words flowed through the speaker from the other side of the country, my heart dropped.From a 6th floor apartment I looked out over New York City as the evening sky slowly turned dark. I pressed ‘end’ and tried to let the reality of the news I just heard sink in-- Kelsey my childhood Golden Retriever was going to be put down.

I’m not someone who typically is prone to large shows of emotion or public displays of distress, in fact many people in my life have looked to me to be a voice of strength and logic in the midst of stormy times. But that night, a thousands miles away from my home, I felt tears pushing strong from behind my eyes, and a sob begin to rise in the pit of my stomach.

The last time I saw Kelsey had been just weeks before during a visit home where I witnessed first hand the effects of time on my beloved pet. But even though she moved slower and  grew tired more easily, I could still see the twinkle in her eye of the creature we all knew and loved. I thought back to the countless times through the years Kelsey brought a comforting paw to my moments of frustration as a young man growing up with OCD, I remembered as a puppy her jumping on each of our beds waking us up excited to start the day with her humans, and I recalled her and uniquely precocious yelp she would make from the living room calling us into be with her, because like me, she hated to be alone.

So as I sat in New York remembering 14 years of a her short life, I had to wonder to myself, why the death of a pet was touching my usually impervious heart so deeply? Why was this causing emotions I rarely felt to rise to the surface? Was it because it’s just what you’re supposed to do when things die?  Or was it more than that? Could it be  that perhaps I was mourning the end of not just the physical body of Kelsey but instead I was mourning the end of her story? There will always be more golden retrievers in the world; but the tragically beautiful truth is that there will only ever be one Kelsey with the legacy of stories she created; a legacy of laughter, joy, comfort, and companionship to me and so many.


Always a source of joy, fun, and love for my sweet ones as they grew up with her.

I think the interesting thing about the pain we feel at the of the loss of loved ones -something we will all inevitably feel in this temporary life- is that the sadness we experience has little to do with the loss of the physical properties of our loved ones; but instead is routed in something more beautiful, and and profound than anything physical we could ever know. Our pain is wrapped up in the loss of a story.

I believe in a creator, I believe in a God who loves stories so much that he created an entire world in which they could unfold, a world where even Golden Retrievers could play a part. I believe that God loved stories so much, that he gave his life to save ours. And as I sit her now typing the words and remembering the beautiful story that Kelsey left behind, I’m reminded that I will one day leave a story behind, and today I have the choice to decide what kind of story that will be.

I will miss you very much Kelsey.


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