Rest in Peace Sweet Kylie. Now Among the Stars.


A change was in the wind. And as life goes, we never know what exactly that change may be. I’m reflecting this morning on the animal card I pulled last week which was Fox, and her message to adapt to the changes that are a constant in life.

Little did I know my message in that Reading I shared with you was also going to be significant for me and John, and our dear sweet Kylie.

The temperature unusually warm, and the winds blustery, as Kylie and I entered the veterinarian clinic yesterday morning with concerns that she’d not finished eating her dinner on Thanksgiving, and turned away from her food a few hours earlier. Just as the weather unusual in Wisconsin for November, so was this not eating for Kylie.

After an exam by the vet, she thought perhaps Kylie’s arthritis was to the point that we needed to put her on a strong anti-inflammatory. Perhaps the pain was causing her not wanting to eat. First, blood work needed to be done in order to prescribe the meds.

I sat on the floor in the exam room with Kylie as we waited for the results. While I’d been sensing something lately, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, and also wishing it wasn’t what I thought perhaps it may be. I’d witnessed Kylie, while still eating her food daily, was eating in a slower pattern, and sometimes panting, though I thought perhaps it had to do with the warmer weather we’d been having. Her ability to jump into bed was also becoming a bit more challenging where she loved to snuggle with John every night.

At the age of twelve years old and one month, I knew our time was more limited than ever before with Kylie. While I’d managed her arthritis with advanced supplements and recently laser therapy, John and I had begun to have the tough discussion of how to handle her aging process in a dignified and graceful way. Heroic measures, meaning we would not let her suffer, would be taken should she be diagnosed with a terminal disease, or testing, probing and medications that would affect her quality of life. 

After she’d not finished her food Thursday evening I was concerned. I sat beside her on the rug in the kitchen, petting her soft head. Silently I talked with her. I said, “Kylie, if you are feeling the need to move on, I’ll be okay. I want what is best for you.”

Before going to bed Thanksgiving evening, I surrendered to Spirit and said that I wanted what was in Kylie’s highest good, and that this wasn’t about me, but what was best for her.

As I stroked her fur sitting on that exam floor waiting for the blood work results, I, of course, hoped for the best. But when the vet came back in the room, shaking her head side-to-side, my heart began to beat faster.

Sliding down the wall, the vet knelt beside me, and shared with me that Kylie’s liver levels were over four times what is considered normal.

While in a way befuddled by the staggering high numbers, I also knew Spirit had guided us to this moment. This decision, though gut wrenching, also became one of peace, left with no doubt that helping her cross over to be among the stars was the right thing to do.

After I called John to come meet me at the clinic, I hugged Kylie so tight around her neck and spilled countless tears onto her soft fur. And then I became aware, remembering my last moments with Frankie. I wanted the same for Kylie, too. And so I talked to her.

I thanked her for being the steadfast rock she was for our family. She was only six months old when Frankie became paralyzed. And she would live her life helping me care for three disabled dachshunds. Never complaining and always going with the flow…even when it was met with many bumps in the road. She stayed steady and grounding.

In my mind I pictured her on a stage, like an olympic athlete ready to presented with a gold medal. And talking to her out loud, still hugging her around her neck, I presented to her the Best. Dog. Ever. Award. Because that she was.

The sweetest, kindest soul of a dog I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. How blessed and honored I am to have called her my friend.

Just before five o’clock last night, already dark, I walked to the bedroom to pull down the blinds on the patio doors. And between the branches of the large tree off our deck, the crescent moon caught my eye with clouds encircling it, swirling in a eerie, but mystical and comforting way. 

The thought that Kylie was now among the stars entered my mind. I smiled and my heart felt comforted as I said silently, “I’ll love you always my dear girl. Always.”

Though there was a large void present last evening, and we will feel it for some time to come, John and I reflected on our many memories of Kylie. We laughed and we cried.

Before heading to bed, I turned to The Wisdom of the Oracle card deck I’m currently studying from in Oracle School. While I felt hesitant in one way to pull a card, the other part of me trusted it would be what I needed most.

Kylie was born on the 24th of October in 2005 and passed on the 24th of November of 2017. Taking two plus four equals six which is my favorite number, after shuffling the deck, I counted down six cards from the top.

Time for a Nap #24

While losing those we love is one of the toughest things we endure as human beings, along with making a decision we feel is most dignified and graceful even though gut-wrenching,  Spirit showed me in that moment that life with all it’s many sorrows, also offers us magic beyond what we can even sometimes imagine. And we must trust and keep our faith that everything is perfect.

This card was confirmation of how the day unfolded and that the timing was exactly as it was meant to be that Kylie was called home to live among the stars…

The fox asleep in the crescent of the moon, and the moon, which I’d just been called to three hours before, thinking of Kylie. A change was indeed in the wind and fox reminded me what Kylie also taught me so well, that I must flow and adapt to changes in life and not get stuck or trapped in sadness. 

And the message of this card not only for Kylie, who now naps in peace for eternity, but that it is time for me to also take a nap and a break. Caring for a senior dog, and three disabled dogs at different times for the past eleven years, while filled with much joy, has had me feeling very tired myself of late.

And while, I’d give anything to hug Kylie just. one. more. time… my faith has strengthened over the years to know that I can connect with her at anytime I want just by being present with that thought. And so she will always be with me.

And to all those who loved her…I say a grateful thank you for sharing your adoration and love of her with me. It is of great comfort to know how much she was loved.

Sweet dreams, my sweet girl. Sweet dreams….


From Grief to Grace: A Mother’s Devoted Dedication to Keeping Her Creative Late Daughter’s Spirit Alive

While I’ve often talked about transition here on my blog, the transition one goes through when losing a loved one is undoubtedly the most difficult one we will ever endure.

I’m so honored to share with you, and also reminded, that even when the heart endures one of the greatest losses – that of a child – that somehow, someway, one can find their way back to finding joy again.

And so it is with my friend Monica, whose dear daughter, Lena, died unexpectedly from meningitis at the age of twenty-two in 2003.

It was the creative and magical imagination of Lena, that would carry Monica to where she is today to begin to experience joy once again in sharing the story Lena penned at the young age of ten, Hoofen Floofen Island.

The blessing of Lena, her creativity, and the many gifts she left behind for her mom, who misses her everyday, is what helped Monica to know that even when life is really hard and feels so unfair, that the magic of life can be experienced once again with courage and grace.

It was truly an honor to recently sit down with Monica in my writing cottage and talk about the book she co-authored with Lena, and the journey this has been for her which helps her to continue to heal.

Here is the interview. I hope you will enjoy!

Monica and Lena’s book is available on Amazon today with all the proceeds benefiting the Lena Kay Rufus Memorial Scholarship Fund. 

The fund was established in 2003 at InFaith Community Foundation (formerly the Lutheran Community Foundation). 

InFaith Community Foundation is a national charity with a mission to serve donors, spread joy and change lives. Together with donors, InFaith now grants $16 million annually to charities serving local, national and global communities. 

About Monica:

Monica Sword is Lena’s mother. As a writer and artist,  she shows others how they can mindfully find their way to a happier and more fulfilling existence. 

Her life was not always this way.

Three family members’ deaths at an early age caused her great sadness, especially the death of her only child, Lena. She struggled to balance home life with a challenging career. Several physical manifestations and discontent from this imbalance contributed to losing her way. She yearned to create a deeper connection with nature, the universe, and people. 

She tried everything from happy pills to talk therapy. Important life relationships started and ended. Her library was full of self-help books. She tried going “back to school”. She set up a basement studio thinking she would surely make time to be creative. While these activities kept her busy and much was learned, nothing really stuck. 

Then she discovered the problem wasn’t with her work ethic or what she thought people expected of her. The problem was how she was applying her conscientious, high-achieving style. 

Once she saw that honoring her passions, being mindful of her emotional reactions to life events and focusing on total self-care are applicable to a conscientious and high-achieving lifestyle, she developed a creative mindset that helps her do her best work.  

Although her grief experience is on-going, her life now has a wonderful flow of writing, painting, drawing, and connecting with people.  

About Lena:

My name is Lena Kay Rufus. Since March 28, 2003, I no longer live on Earth. On that day, quickly and unexpectedly, I passed away from meningitis.  

During my childhood, I enjoyed being around farm animals as well as living on the reservation of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Northern Wisconsin. I played Suzuki violin during first grade. I loved going to school and excelled in most subjects. 

Although my life was short, my accomplishments were many. I was active at Washburn High School where I studied diligently. I was able to spend most of my senior year enrolled in courses at Northland College. I played the clarinet and after learning French, traveled to Paris. I served as an officer in several high school clubs and associations. I was a Stanford University student at the time of my passing. As you can see, education was crucial to me.

On April 1, 2000, my life celebration ceremony took place on my home reservation. I said goodbye to hundreds of people I loved dearly. There are too many loves to mention except for Mom and Dad, who supported me in all aspects of my life. On this date also, the tribal elders honored me with the Ojibwe name of Ogitchidakwe, warrior woman. 

Look for the “Lena Speaks” area on Life is a Pretty Word for selected pieces written throughout my life. Mom thinks I was a good writer although I never thought so. 

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The Perfect Ending to a Deeply Personal Day

The Perfect Ending to a Deeply Personal Day
Visiting Frankie’s statue at Bookworm Gardens

It was the perfect ending to  such a sacred, deeply moving, magical day as I laid Frankie’s ashes to rest on the 5th anniversary of her passing yesterday morning. On Tuesday I wrote about how I came to this decision for this special day, and yesterday I shared how I followed my heart and how the timing of how this private ceremony would unfold. 

It became obvious to me as the last two days have unfolded that I have touched what my friend Diane said, as the collective heart. There was a small part of me that hesitated in sharing such a deeply personal experience because a part of me felt vulnerable. But now I have nothing but gratitude for doing so.

So many of you here, and on my Facebook page, shared so many beautiful thoughts and love that it truly only enriched this special moment in time for me. Also hearing from many of you sharing that I’ve helped you by being open with my heart about this experience, well, that means so much…and I know Frankie is so proud of that.

There are moments in life when you look back and you are able to really see the synchronicity and perfect timing of things – how life just flowed – and you were being guided by something bigger than you.

Such is the case the last two days – and really even before this. Last week I had gone to a second hand store wanting a new (or rather, I should say, pre-loved) casual dress or two. And it wouldn’t hit me as how perfect it was the one I found when my friend, Jessica sent me the pictures she took of me yesterday afternoon with Frankie’s statue at Bookworm Gardens.

I wasn’t even sure I was going to go to Bookworm Gardens on the anniversary of Frankie’s passing, but after scattering her ashes I knew I wanted to. And it just so happened I was having lunch with a lovely young lady, Jessica, who is my neighbor, and just graduated from college and will be getting married later this summer.  

The serendipity of us having lunch together near Bookworm Gardens, never really knowing each other too well all these years we’ve been neighbors… well, that is a whole other story I’ll write about some other time. But I have no doubt that God meant for her and I to be together yesterday, and for her to be the one taking pictures of me with Frankie’s statue.

While my love for Frankie and what we shared so deeply between us is something that will be with me always, being at the children’s garden yesterday, seeing her statue there, knowing her message lives on – touching new lives each and everyday – well, now I’m at a loss for words. 

The only word I can find is GRATEFUL and grateful I’ll always be.

It was the perfect ending to a day filled with such love and peace that I will carry in my heart forever. And thank you again to each of you for being a part of our journey.

When we share something from the true depth of our souls….and touch that collective heart…I truly believe we all heal.

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