Día de Muertos is a Mexican holiday that is starting to be more recognized in other parts of the world, although I find that not many of our friends who live in Europe have heard much of it at all, and a lot of people even here in the United States don’t really know a lot about it. It’s not a variation on Halloween, like a lot of people seem to think. I tend to think of it as more meaningful than what Halloween has come to be.
As the name translates, it truly is the Day of the Dead. It’s a day to remember loved ones who are no longer with us. Traditionally, people would leave sugar skulls, marigolds and sometimes possessions of those who had departed on their gravestones. It’s a day to remember them, but in a happy way. Instead of grieving and being sad, good times and happy memories are shared. Sometimes there are parades and celebrations, as well. One thing that many practice is doing good deeds to honor their loved ones who have passed away.
I was thinking about this day, and it made me sentimental about those I have loved and lost. There’s my maternal grandmother who gave me the gift of money that allowed us to adopt our first Greyhound. She is the one person I credit the most with helping me turn out to be the person that I am today. She understood me on a level that no one else ever has.
There’s Treat, our first Greyhound who was my heart dog. She was so full of life, right up until the end, and she never let me get away without taking a walk, no matter what the weather was outside. Hawk, our second Greyhound who always thought the sky was falling and taught me so much about overcoming adversity. Lilac, our sweet senior hound who taught me an incredible amount of patience and also that you need to squeeze every last drop out of life before you give it up. We thought we’d have her with us for just a short time when we adopted her, but retirement was so good that she lived more than half her life with us. And of course, there was her daughter Blueberry, the original merrymaker at our house. I’ve never met a dog who enjoyed making people laugh as much as she did.
I won’t lie to you, each of these losses was incredibly painful at the time it happened. As the years have gone on, though, I have found myself more and more grateful for the gifts I had of each of them in my life. Each of them taught me such incredible lessons and helped to mold me into a better person. Losing them also taught me about cherishing my time with those I love who are still here.
Whether you celebrate Día de Muertos or not, I hope that today you take a few minutes to just enjoy your time with your loved ones, and to remember those who have departed with fondness. This day makes me realize how blessed I’ve been in my life. Today I wish for you to smile at a fond memory and to enjoy the company of those you love.