Rescue work is a job of love. You give your love so freely and so completely in this job. Or at least you do until you burn out. Because with rescue work there is loss. Even when everything goes as best as possible, in the end there will always be loss and with loss there is grieving. Learning to live with this burden is what makes or breaks individuals in this industry.
I was grieving the loss of Coco before she was even gone. I could see the signs of the end of the road, and as much as I hated it and tried to put the breaks on, the end is inevitable. It broke a part of me to let her go, but I also was able to find some peace with it as well. It was not my first loss and not my first time grieving. I learned to live withy grief many years ago and while some moments feel unbearably heavy, I know how to set the weight down for a moment till I can carry it again.
I found myself for the first time worrying about those that have never been in this position before. We've been gaining a wonderful crew of young adults and kiddos at the rescue and I realized that this would be the first time they would experience this. I had moments where my empathetic heart felt ready to burst at the thought of them feeling such a loss. I care for and value our crew so much, it was hard to process there was really not much I could do to ease it for them.
I realized in the days after Coco's passing that the rescue has not only gained a new generation of volunteers, but that we gained a support network I wasn't expecting. While it brought tightness to my throat and a tear to the eye, I am unbelievably grateful for all of the volunteers and parents of volunteers who reached out to me with kind words and support for the difficult time. My heart felt lighter after talking with them and seeing that they all were able to handle it well and understand this was the best thing we could do for our little Coco.
And the memorial gifts were too sweet for words. We all miss our little Coco, but her impact and love is not to be forgotten.