Allowing Nui To Go To A Better Place

Nui blessed the Mizutani home for two and a half wonderful years. Photo by Haven Mizutani

Nui blessed the Mizutani home for two and a half wonderful years. Photo by Haven Mizutani

I hate you, cancer. Like a cowardly burglar, you sheepishly enter homes in the middle of the night and destroy lives. It’s as if you get great joy crushing dreams and stealing precious time from those we love.

But remember this: Despite your selfish ways, you cannot and will never rob us of our memories. Never. Not in our home.

Our family is hurting once again after saying goodbye to a special member of our family, our sweet Nui. But while we ache, we also embrace and celebrate the memories made with our gentle Thai ridgeback. She wouldn’t want it any other way.

Several years ago, I shared a very personal story in this column about the loss of my dear friend Zeus. In January 2010, I made the most painful decision of my life when I let him go. He was suffering, and he deserved to leave this world with dignity.

Many of you expressed your condolences about our Labrador’s passing. Some of you even opened your hearts and talked about your losses.

I read each email and letter with deep appreciation, and I thanked all of you individually because your well wishes and stories helped in our recovery, and eventually allowed us to move forward as a family without his physical presence. His memories were still very much alive.

Some of you may recall that we welcomed Nui into our home Jan. 14, 2012, nearly two years after saying goodbye to Zeus. I shared, in a follow-up column, my initial reluctance to open my heart to Nui, fearing I’d grieve again one day.

But those fears quickly were put to rest the moment she walked through our front door and I focused on her loving eyes. You were correct; I was able to love again. We all fell head over heels for her.

Nui was everything Zeus was not. She was quiet, while Zeus playfully barked at his own shadow. She was gentle, while Zeus tore apart every pillow, T-shirt and towel he could get his mouth on. And she was polite. Zeus was rambunctious and rowdy and sneaked into the house every chance he got.

Boy, do I still miss him! He was, after all, me.

I don’t think Zeus would mind me saying this, in fact, he’d probably agree, Nui was the smartest dog ever, and she had an uncanny gift of knowing what each of us in the house needed.

Her timing was always perfect.

For my oldest son Dane, it was about wagging her tail when he called her name. It was simple gesture yet powerful enough to make any grown man melt. She did that to him often.

For my daughter Haven, it was about cuddling in bed. Nui didn’t care if my daughter was busy texting or talking on the phone, she was there to provide Haven comfort, and she always knew just when to do it. She never failed her.

For my son Tai-John, it was tolerating his kolohe antics. She never flinched when he covered her eyes, and she sat patiently every time he stole her pillow to watch ESPN. Despite his mischievous ways, Nui sprinted upstairs every morning after breakfast and sat quietly at the foot of his bed to watch him sleep. It was the most loving thing I’ve ever seen.

For Granny, it was walking into her room every afternoon at 4:30 sharp because it was time for dinner. I swear Nui smiled, knowing she was in control.

As for me, Nui would quietly walk into a room whenever I raised my voice. She would stare at me with her kind eyes and defuse any tension that existed. She created peace with her mere presence more times than I can remember.

And for my wife, Michelle, it was about being by her side every second of the day when she wasn’t caring for the rest of us. Nui was her loyal companion. She squirmed with delight whenever she was sung to. Their bond was special and strong. They were best friends.

The cancer came out of nowhere and swiftly moved through her 9-year-old body. She fought a valiant fight, but it was obvious she was tired. We struggled with the thought of losing our beautiful girl, but true to her character, she waited until she knew we were ready.

Unconditional love.

The morning finally came when we knew it was time to let her go. It was the right thing to do, for she, too, deserved to go with dignity. We know she’s running wild with Zeus right now, free of pain and free of cancer.

Thank you for the memories, Nui girl … Thank you for walking into our lives.