I remember it almost like it was yesterday, though it was many years ago. She lied on the floor of our den, soaked in the radiant, amber rays of the early morning sun. She lifted her eyes to me with an exasperated smile as our newborn pups fed from her breast, and in this moment, I found myself lost in the depths of the insurmountable beauty that I beheld. My legs quivered like leaves in the face of a summer breeze, and my heart wept with what could only be described as a sense of pride deeper than any ocean, and a joy brighter than a million suns.

With a voice as soft as silk, she beckoned me to her side so I may bask in the resplendent glory of our creation, but in this moment, my legs failed me and all I could do was sit and stare in a silent stupor as the entire meaning of my existence presented itself to me. With a soft, understanding smile, she turned her head down to our new pups and began to clean what remained of the amniotic fluid from their fur with a gentle, nurturing tongue, and it was in this moment that my mind finally regained control of my legs. With a deep, quivering breath, I rose to my paws and traversed the short distance that separated me from my newfound purpose in life. She detected my movement with keen ears and turned to me slowly with a soft smile as I arrived by her side.

Millions of words whirled and whipped through the fabrics of my mind, but not one could ever find purchase upon my tongue as I stared down at the marvelous thing we had created together. The first, soft cry that was uttered caused my heart to swell, and it was in this moment that, with eyes blurred by a veil of tears, words finally escaped my lips.

"They're so beautiful," I crooned as I caressed the side of her face with mine.

With eyes filled with tears, and too tired to speak, she simply melted into the warmth of my embrace and allowed a single sigh to pass her lips as the two of us stared down at what we knew would truly be our greatest adventure...

Though now that I sit here and stare at that spot where she once lied so many years ago, my heart grows heavy with grief. The sun that once bathed her in such a glorious array of light has now been replaced by shadow, and the warmth of the love we shared has yielded to unrelenting emptiness and despair, even colder than the snowflakes which swirled and danced around the empty space where she once lied. Though many moons have passed since an unidentified illness forever closed her smiling, amber eyes, the wound in my heart still bleeds as though it were just stricken by the sight that caused it to weep so miserably. The emptiness in my heart knows only the callous company of my soul, and the memory of the day that I woke to find her lifeless body beside me seems to remain only to torture them as they together struggle to survive when my mind works so diligently to convince them that a life without her would not be worth living.

I've often found myself entertaining the darkest thoughts in my mind. I've often found myself convinced that my life is now meaningless, and that the only thing left for me to do is die, but it seems as though every time I stand up on the rim of the valley and gaze down upon the jagged, unforgiving rocks that so eagerly await my descent upon them, my mind wanders back to my pups, and I realize, with great resolve, that she lives inside of each and every one of them. I can see her in our daughter's smile. I can hear her in our oldest son's confident, commanding voice, and I can sense it in our youngest son's everlasting compassion for everybody in our little patch of the universe- and that, my friends, makes it all worthwhile.