No jingling of a collar. No clip clip of nails on the hardwood floor. No sweet yellow face, slick of drool, or wet nose inching up to see what we're having for lunch.
But I'd take all of that and then some to see him go apeshit on Christmas morning again. That pup loved Christmastime.
At my father-in-law's funeral, the immediate family paid our respects last - after all the other family and friends paused for a final goodbye to an amazing man, friend, husband, father, and grandfather. Our family of four said a silent prayer before him, then moved aside for my husband's siblings and mother to spend a final moment with him before the casket closed forever.
I looked up to see my son's shoulders shaking in grief. Raw emotion overcame him, and he sobbed. I immediately opened my arms, moving swiftly to draw him into my embrace. As I did, a four inch piece of my hair went straight down his throat. He gagged, hawked a loogie, and nearly barfed down my back.
I pulled back and we all started giggling. Uncontrollably. Embarrassingly loudly. Obnoxiously so.
Fast forward to the vet arriving to help us with poor Miller, who had an accident on the living room floor, lay down to rest, and never got back up on a Wednesday afternoon.
Dr. Buck arrived, and I sat down next to my buddy to pet him as the doctor began his examination. I plopped down right into a giant bowl of water that I fetched for him earlier in the day. He didn't drink a lick of that water. Instead it sloshed all over the floor, saturated my backside and flew up in the air landing all over the dog. And Dr. Buck.
Needless to say, it was a lot of water and I have a big butt. But everyone laughed, and I temporarily succeeded in bringing some levity to a somber occasion.
After Miller died peacefully on the spot where he lay down earlier that day, Dr. Buck and his assistant carried our boy away and we started storytelling. Standing in the foyer of our home - we hadn't even poured a drink yet - we began: "Remember when he was a puppy and he terrorized all of the kids sledding on New Years Eve? Remember Colin's comment? 'Wow. Not exactly the best commercial for a dog.'"
It's true. This quirky, pain-in-the-ass, perfect, quintessential labrador retriever will always live in our hearts.