I got you on November 4, 2008. I was barely 21 and you were 5-months-old. You were the tiniest, sweetest thing I had ever seen; you fit in my robe pocket. You wanted to greet and kiss everything that moved. I named you Shiccor, meaning “sugar” or “sweety” in Tigrinya, and I affectionately called you “Shiccamama.”
To say you shaped my life, Shiccamama, doesn’t give justice to the impact you had on me for the past 14 years. You gave me unconditional love, laughter, and emotional support. You taught me discipline and perseverance. You brought out my inner child every day. From watching you run around the coffee table until you tired yourself out, to napping together at UCLA’s sculpture garden, we were in it together.
You were 3 ½ pounds of pure love. And like a true Jamaican, “facety” with your love. You would be adamant about getting the freedom you needed to give love to others. I remember having to learn to keep the leash loose enough so that you did not feel it and could feel in control. I gave you the respect to walk off leash when you could, and you gave me the respect to walk beside me at all times. We had a system. The more I learned how to protect you and care for you without trying to control you, the more we became in sync. I learned how to speak your language. I used your gestures to signal play or cuddle time. I let you be beside me whenever possible because I knew you needed to feel connected.
I remember preparing to leave for law school, and my father advised me against bringing you along. That was a huge mistake. I was depressed and anxious. I needed you, Shiccamama. I immediately switched apartments, so I could take you with me. My law school experience was transformed from a living hell to a tolerable purgatory with glimpses of heaven when I was with you.
When we returned to California after graduating from Harvard, I knew I would be spending most of my time at work. I didn’t want you to be left home alone all day, so I adopted another dog, Uma, from my parents. You two became inseparable. You ate, slept, dressed up, bathed, and played together. Just like with me, you brought out Uma’s inner child and taught her how to play.
Your love truly went beyond just joy and affection, it also translated into protection. Yes, you, tiny as can be, protected me. You barked when someone came to the door. When you saw me sit with someone who you didn’t know, you inserted yourself in between us to keep a closer eye on them. You protected me by keeping me grounded through all obstacles and heartbreaks.
In 2017, you became sick with cancer, and the veterinarian told me to put you down. You were too small to undergo surgery.
The veterinarian had given up on you, but I hadn’t. I vowed to do everything I could to bring you back to good health. I took you aside and gave you a promise: “I am going to do everything I can so that you can live at least five more years with me.” And I vowed to take you on at least one road trip. I spent the next two years developing an herbal tincture based on research to help shrink tumors, fight cancer, and strengthen immune systems. I cooked your food from scratch, gave you your tincture daily, and drove home from work during lunch to check on you. My parents also helped watch over you.
Slowly but surely, you got better. You were eventually able to eat on your own! You thrived! You ran around and played with Uma (before she passed in 2021), and by now, also, Sunny.
When you got sick again in September 2022, I knew that you had given your all and that your time in your current form was coming to an end. Before it was time to say goodbye, you did the best you could to hang with Sunny and be by my side. You even chased me around the house one last time. You also got to spend a whole week with my parents so they could connect with you.
On October 19, 2022, I had to say goodbye to you. Even in your final moments, you were loving, fearless, and filled with guidance. You made it very clear that you wanted to be around me and Sunny outside. So, I brought you outside and we took our last family photo with you in it. As I looked into your eyes, grateful for the time I was able to have with you, I remembered my promise to you—to do everything I could for you, so you could live at least five more years. In your eyes, I felt you say, “Mommy, we did it.”
We did. We got our extra five years together. And those years were filled with joy, cuddles, good health, and, per my second promise, road trips. I’m talking Big Bear, Palm Springs, Zion National Park, and San Francisco.
I am beyond grateful for our 14 years together. You were and continue to be the greatest gift I ever received. You were a wish come true that I didn’t know I made until I first held you in my arms in 2008. You are forever etched in my heart. I hope you find Uma and you both spend an eternity filled with peace, joy, and love.
I love you always,