As one of our precious students passed me in the hallway she whispered softly, “I miss Scarlett”.  And I shared the sentiment that I missed Scarlett too.

I remember the day Scarlett arrived so many years earlier. She was the runt of a litter of 14 puppies. There wasn’t much left that mother nature gave to the last puppy born from this large family of English Setters. She needed so much. This female puppy eventually became a member of our family and lived with us for 17 and 1/2 years and in all that time never came in heat. She was remarkable –  at the same time the most valuable and the most worthless dog I have known. And we truly loved her.

She had in her blood line five national champions. The problem was – all five names were the same. The in-breeding produced an animal that nobody wanted, but us.

When the end finally came for her I could not bear the thought of losing her so I asked my dear friend and older student, Sam Latham, to bury her. And he most graciously consented. It proved to be his last of many acts of kindness to me and this school. And now Scarlett remains buried in our hearts and vibrant in our memories, with eyes still searching ours for a big hug and a kind word of welcome.

Life provides us with a few moments, precious moments, to capture a reflection of real love. And today I share one of those with you in the photograph of Scarlett with one of her many friends. The student is Katy and she is the student that brought tears to my eyes yesterday with the softly spoken and gentle words, “I miss Scarlett”.

Well, I miss her too.

Our friends, be they large or small, children or pets, wild ducks or even a small spider hard at work spinning a intricate web, teach us so much about love and laughter and life. They teach us to greet each day with joy, to have fun and play and savor the the flavors of life. And importantly,  teach us to be kind. They are among life’s greatest teachers. And the greatest lesson they offer is to love one another unconditionally.

Scarlett, in her dying breath, as I held her in my trembling arms, taught me one last lesson – that life is brief at best. We need to open up our arms and never pass by any living creature without sharing a moment of joy, for tomorrow may never come again.