about a month ago i wrote about how words can be given life by the thoughts and energy you put behind the word. in the same way, words can become lifeless by a shift in your thoughts and feelings that change the energy behind a word.

when i wrote the story about the word shame (here it is if you missed it), i mentioned how i would be telling 3 stories about the life of a word. here is the second…

growing up, i spent all my summers and christmases in louisiana with my brother and 3 cousins, all boys. my uncle would take the boys hunting and fishing while i would stay behind with my aunt. at first, because i LOVE my aunt, i was excited that she wanted to spend time with me all to herself buuuuut, eventually i realized what the boys were doing without me.

for years, i begged them to take me with them, but for years i was never invited. i do recall a couple of fishing trips i got to tag along on but no hunting and i was so deeply disappointed about it.

fast forward almost 30 years and i get into a relationship with a guy who hunts and fishes in louisiana, just like my family, but he takes me with him 🙂 dream come true. i absolutely LOVE being a tag along while he hunts and fishes. it’s simply the best.

so i’m with this guy and i hunt with him and i watch his bird dog, Gypsy, hunting with him but mostly hunting FOR him. it’s so effing cool. this dog is hard wired to find the birds for her human to shoot, then find them once they’ve fallen, and retrieve them back to her human. this right here, is what this wildly energetic dog lives for. and she wants to repeat this process for eternity until you interrupt her by forcing her to drink water or by putting her back in the truck to go home.

after watching them do their thing together over and over i just had to have my own dog to do this for me! voodoo was 11 and not interested sooooo i got a puppy! he was an 8 week old english setter. white with a black head and black polka dots all over his body that they call “ticking”.

i hadn’t had a puppy in 11 years. he was perfection. he was sweet and cuddly as can be, showed me as much affection as i showed him, and when the time came, an EXCELLENT bird dog. his name was Hickory. he was brett and i’s first pup we raised together, and he was extremely special to both of us.

Hickory grew up staying on point (literally and figuratively) with his bird dog instincts and was a beauty and a blast to hunt with. not long after Hicks, Brett got a new pup he named Gus. Gus is a bigger dog and has a extra wild streak in him unlike the others.

of the three dogs, there was a clear favorite. Hickory was it. he had grace and spunk and more energy than the energizer bunny. he was great at holding steady points on birds, he was extremely obedient in the field, and he was Brett’s favorite dog to hunt with whether he admits it or not.

both of us had become extremely attached. even though i hate to admit the truth about how Brett did all the training so Hickory really hunted for him and not me, i still insisted that no matter their relationship, he was always MY dog, and brett insisted the opposite.

if you read the first part of this story about shame, you’d know that brett and i went through an extremely rocky and difficult time in our relationship between last year and this one. during this difficult time, thoughts of separating were on our minds but one thing that kept us tied together was that neither of us could bare the pain of losing Hicks. neither of us could stand to be separated from him. when only strings held us together, unknowingly Hickory was one of them.

if i heard the word Hickory, i had an instant smile, if not on the outside, on the inside for sure. only fondness existed when he came to mind. i especially enjoyed observing him move. he would leap around the yard, over fences, over dogs, or mostly over nothing but air like a little gazelle or antelope just really excited and hoppy.

so as you can see, the word hickory was pure light for me—that is, until he unexpectedly died in January. then things shifted, the light dimmed and the energy that existed when i heard the word hickory was dark, heavy, sinking and trying to pull me down with it. the vision that came to mind wasn’t of leaping hickory, it was of how he looked the last time i saw him—dead with his tongue hanging out.

our hickory thread was broken and our hearts were painfully broken, but miraculously, those broken hearts, broke us open and broke us into our relationship. the threads binding us together rerooted themselves as we dug deeper within ourselves. our new roots grew from our courage to get clear and be honest about our own truth and our own pain.

i believe the threads that connect us to others are made up of two strings, one from each of us, that spiral and bind together to make the whole thread. i believe the strongest of the last few threads between Brett and i was made up of all that we had held back from each other, all we didn’t say, all we didn’t do, all we didn’t appreciate and all we took for granted.

i entered into this relationship wearing my past experiences on my sleeve. i’m not saying that was right or wrong, just saying, the closing wounds and thoughts from my last relationships were still at the forefront of my mind and clouding my ability to see clear, to truly be clear and to be honest with myself and him. regardless, we are where we are, i can see more clearly than i could before, and it feels liberating to not hold anything back.

it came to the point where the fear of us separating was less than the fear of my not being my true authentic and honest self with him. ever since then, we’ve both been getting really honest and it has helped nurture the bond between us.

rewind to february—just a couple short weeks after hickory had died, i swooped up another puppy. voodoo had died the previous year, and although “we” had two more dogs, i felt like i didn’t have a dog anymore, and the thought of being dog-less felt unbearable during this tough time in my life.

the new pup’s name is Boggs and he is also an english setter. he is not very loving and cuddly, he does not leap all cute like a gazelle, and even though i adore him, he has very little interest in getting attention from me unless it involves food. he is a completely different kind of dog and a completely different teacher.

when we first got Boggs, and i would think about Hickory, i’d feel guilt and sadness. as much as i liked boggs, i’d compare him to hickory and get even more sad about losing my favorite little buddy. but, many months later, now that boggs is bigger and acting more like an adult setter, he reminds me of Hickory a lot and things have changed. the more Boggs acts like Hicks, barks like Hicks, hops like Hicks and so on, the more i smile remembering my lil buddy.

the more thoughts of Hickory that come to mind and the more i smile remembering him, the more life and vitality the word Hickory has to me.

time, patience, and love change everything. EVERYTHING. the life of “hickory” has been revived for me. in fact, that lil shit Boggs is outside barking right now and he sounds just like Hickory did. only problem now is, i keep wanting to call him Hicks…



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