A little under a year ago, but coming up on a year really soon, I lost my elderly dog Deacon. It definitely as I would describe it one of the worst days of 2018. Don't get me wrong, I had an amazing 2018. But I think that it was just one of the dents in my year that when I think back to when I got the news, I still cry. I spent the rest of 2018 without a dog in my life, and I knew as the year went on that spring break and summer break was going to be weird without him.

But it flew over my head that this would be my first winter break without him as well.

When we adopted him back when I was about seven, it was still the summer before second grade and he, of course, was still a puppy. That meant that every year of his life, there was at least one Christmas and New Year's celebrated with him. After New Year's 2018, I had this gut feeling inside of me that he was not going to make it to the end of the year with how his health was going.

That gut feeling was correct. But he didn't even make it to the end of the first month of 2018. So like I said before, I spent the rest of 2018 without my best friend.

Then, when winter break began and I realized that this was going to be my first Christmas without Deacon, it hit me like a wall falling on top of me and smashing me to my death. While the tree was up and decorated and the stockings were hung, it all felt weird. We were not telling Deacon to stay away from the tree, and we did not hang up the stocking that was specifically made for him (it had the letter D on it for Deacon).

Then New Year's came around, and the thought came up again a few days after we said goodbye to 2018 and said hello to 2019. He was not barking at everyone cheering and wondering why everyone was counting down from 10 and yelling Happy New Year. I didn't hear his barks as fireworks would go off to celebrate the New Year. He wasn't around the dinner table at Christmas Eve or New Year's Day. Everything just felt like that hole grew a little bit during the holiday season.

For Christmas, I got my family this one ornament from when my sorority had our semi-formal in Frankenmuth, Michigan and we went to Bronner's. It was an ornament talking about the rainbow bridge and the reason I got it was that it felt like it could help in memory of how this was the first holiday season without Deacon and that he was now in a better place. Which he was.

My family made it through our first holiday season without Deacon, but as the one year of his passing is coming up, I know my heart is going to be heavy during this time.