These Things, For Certain

“Grief is love’s souvenir. It’s our proof that we once loved. Grief is the receipt we wave in the air that says to the world: Look! Love was once mine. I love well. Here is my proof that I paid the price.” – Glennon Doyle Melton

I was working in NYC full-time at a literary agency when my father died. I know in the months leading up to that winter I had tried writing stories about him, willing one to be good enough, for me or you or him, I’m not sure. I remember one of my first thoughts though, sitting on the subway about forty minutes after having received the call, being something about knowing my first set of certain things. He’ll never walk me down the aisle, we won’t have that dance, his name never again on my cell screen. I even – heartbreakingly – left him a voicemail on my birthday 24 days after he passed.

I was just a few months out of college – a time when life was endless in its what-ifs. Possibilities were everywhere, the sky the limit. But suddenly, these things. Written in stone beneath the shady canopy of a towering tree in my hometown, his name. My hand on his grave is every word I’d wished I’d said, every moment I’d wished he’d been there for.

The day after the funeral we crossed the George Washington bridge with my father’s dog seated on my lap. Our apartment didn’t allow for dogs. We called our landlord and said it’s all of us or none of us.


Chris and I don’t verbalize the way of our faith to one another. We live it, everyday. This past Saturday morning I stood in the laundry room at the cattle ranch where I work and prayed that He’d take our sweet, mischievous, large-hearted Murphy if he was ready to go. On Sunday morning He answered.

It’s been nearly four years since my heart hurt this deep, like not being able to swallow a rock lodged in your throat, your heart swollen with grief and drowning in tears. The grieving process is a black smoke that wafts about in the air, stopping your breath when it hits you, leaving bruises on your legs from your own raging fists. It is all the things that make this life seemingly unbearable.

Chris and I spent the night laughing at Murphy videos on our couch with our lab sprawled on the floor below us. We are the survivors of everyday life. And tonight, longing to kiss his furry head once more, we are certain of these things: The pearly gates to Heaven are indeed pee-stained. The sound of home is that of pitter-pattering paws. The volume of love is that of a running faucet.


A grocery store ad and 11 years later. Rest easy in the big sky above, my beautiful boy.


Murphy in our Queens, NY apartment


“My own house in Montana? No more leashes?”


Miles of trails at Murphy pace


Heaven & Earth, our Last Best Place


9 thoughts on “These Things, For Certain

  1. tinyhousecypress says:

    I was brought to tears reading you blog this morning. I just purchased a book called ” good grief” not the Charlie Brown one but the other kind that we all have experienced at one time or another. I am sure Murphy had crossed the rainbow bridge by now and will live on through memories that you carry in your 💓. Xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Lisa Gordon says:

    Oh, Chelsea, I am so very, very sorry.
    They become such a huge part of our lives and take up such a big space in our hearts.
    May your wonderful memories of him bring you comfort.

    I leave you with a quote that a good friend sent to me when I lost one of my dogs…
    “Don’t cry because I am gone. Smile because I was.”

    Fly high, sweet Murphy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hot Rod Cowgirl says:

    I am so sorry for your loss…Murphy looked so happy and I know he blessed your lives very much so. I love all my animals here, but it is so very hard when we loose one. That pain goes deep…I lost my kitty Minnie Mouse in 2014, she was 19 years and six months….her entire life was with me here in our house…she was a part of our hearts…I miss her. I do believe that someday we will see all our beloved animals again…but it sure is hard to loose them here. My heart goes out to you…and will keep you in my prayers. We looked at moving to Hamilton and Stevensville….know the views you have and they are gorgeous! Beautiful beautiful valley….heart felt hugs…


    • Chelsea Lyn Drake says:

      Thank you, so very much. Grief has a way of sneaking up on us sporadically these days. It’s hard. But he was oh so happy, which makes it easier to bear. So sorry to hear of your loss. Words can hardly help but I, too, hold my heart out to you. What a small world! Stevensville has my heart and my roots, and I’m certain you know why.

      Liked by 1 person

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