personal trainer

“The one who taught me what love is”

photo of Chuck and Coco by Heather B. Armstrong for

The whole Blurbodoocery is taking the Thanksgiving Holiday off starting in a couple of hours, and instead of the usual link roundup I do at the end of the week I’m just going to share one story, something I found yesterday that immediately put me into a holiday spirit when usually you have to drag me there kicking and screaming.

photo of Chuck and Coco by Heather B. Armstrong for

I mentioned last month that my personal trainer had to put down her Pit Bull Gracie who had been battling cancer for several months. In the last few weeks of Gracie’s life my trainer dedicated every spare moment to her care, hand-feeding her several times a day, making every hour as comfortable for her as possible. She was there when she passed has since been totally traumatized with grief.

You can see the despair in her face, in the way her shoulders sit next to her ears. She’s been totally changed by having to say goodbye to what was her most loyal companion in life. She’s my trainer, yes, but she’s also a dear friend, one who completely transformed my body and my life. It’s hard to watch her struggle and not know how to help.

Yesterday I stumbled across a hand written letter from Fiona Apple to her fans in South America, one asking them to forgive her for postponing that portion of her tour. The reason? Her 14-yr-old Pit Bull is battling cancer and doesn’t have long to live:

I know that she’s not sad about aging or dying. Animals have a survival instinct, but a sense of mortality and vanity, they do not. That’s why they are so much more present than people. But I know that she is coming close to point where she will stop being a dog, and instead, be part of everything. She’ll be in the wind, and in the soil, and the snow, and in me, wherever I go.

I just can’t leave her now, please understand.

If I go away again, I’m afraid she’ll die and I won’t have the honor of singing her to sleep, of escorting her out.

You have to read the whole letter. It’s one of the most exquisite things I’ve ever read about the bond between a human and her pet. You will not get through it without crying. You won’t. And no matter what you thought about Fiona Apple before this letter, you cannot come away from those words without feeling that this woman is a gift to the world.

I sent a link to this to my trainer hoping that she could find some comfort and told her, “You were there for Gracie, and as traumatic as her passing was, you are the love that the two of you shared. ‘These are the choices we make, which define us.’ You made that choice. You made her feel safe and important. You are love.”

Have a great holiday. Hug your kids and your pets and your friends.