I’ve been a writer for many years. I’ve penned everything from restaurant reviews to military news to hunting blogs to eulogies to a porn novel. This — this, is the hardest piece I’ve ever had to write. (And I warn you now, I’m not going for perfect grammar or sentence structure. This is pure emotion.)
Nine years ago, I spotted a dog at an animal shelter when I was looking for a companion to join my home. I already had a three-year-old golden retriever who was getting rambunctiously bored with my entrepreneurial life and needed a friend — a distraction.
I fell in love with Basil seconds after meeting him. As for my golden, Ernie, I can’t say the feeling was mutual.
Basil was a burst of bouncing energy, while Ernie was hyper but in a more subdued way. Basil wanted to wrestle and bite ears, whereas Ernie peed on the sidewalk at the sight of a new dog in our yard. They didn’t connect at all. In fact, the next morning I sat in the backyard with Ernie clinging to me and giving the look of, “Get this idiot out of here.”
I was in tears. I was torn. I had little sleep the night before because Basil was — I’ll be frank — an obnoxious nightmare for the usual routine of my house. For a brief moment I thought of taking Basil back to the city pound, the chainlink and concrete jail from where I rescued him. The idea made me cry even more.
The heartbreaking action of returning him like he was a pair of shoes I didn’t like, or a shirt whose colour I later regretted was something I couldn’t live with. I thought I’d already given him a home for at least one night, how can I send him back to a cage?
True, being a young, cute and playful puppy, he would’ve been adopted right away. But the question of, “What if?” would’ve haunted me forever. Forever. Really.
I stuck with it. Ernie stuck with it. I’d already successfully trained Ernie from a young age, so I was confident Basil wouldn’t be much different. And he wasn’t. For the most part, his energy level settled down when he realized he was outnumbered in the house. He figured that by chilling out, we’d want to interact more. It all worked out.
Very quickly we got into a new groove. In a sense, we had to start all of the daily routines from scratch. Ernie had to learn to eat with another dog. Basil had to learn how to walk on a leash, whereas Ernie was a powerwalker who doesn’t stop to sniff and pee on everything. We had to figure out the sleeping arrangement not only on the couch but on the bed.
For the most part, they got along every minute of the day. For nine years, they were inseparable. Truthfully, the most they’d ever been apart would’ve been a few minutes if one had to go outside and the other didn’t. But they were side by side the entire time.
Realizing that I had such animated dogs, photoshoots happened regularly. Initially, they were for fun and later turned into lucrative money-making deals for my media company. Their images were, and are still, licensed to companies for greeting cards, stock photos and at a pet store.
Ernie and Basil became household names — at least for my syndicated radio audience and social media “friends.” They’re known in the celebrity circles, because much of my time is spent in Los Angeles, a city full of dog lovers. Naturally, we talk about our pets.
Animal lover, Sharon Osbourne, was the first celeb to see pictures of Ernie and Basil together. It was three months after I adopted Basil that I was on the red carpet of America’s Got Talent. The first night of the two-part season finale saw us have conversation about our pets. I didn’t have my phone with me because it would’ve been distracting during my live broadcast. The second night, I had a picture cued up and ready to show her. Here’s the audio from that interaction – LISTEN HERE
Over the years, celebrities such as Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan, singer Jann Arden, and TV’s Dr. Phil knew my pooches. It’s kind of weird to think that the homeless dog from Winnipeg suddenly was on a first-name basis with celebrities. (So much for that “What if?” question, right?)
Basil quickly became my shadow. If I got up from the couch, he shot up just as fast. If I went downstairs, he was barreling beside and reaching the bottom first. Ernie, on the other hand, was cool just lifting up his head and watching us leave.
Over the course of nine years, with the exception of being neutered, Basil never once needed medical care. He never had an injury, he never was sick. There was never an issue of throwing up or eating anything harmful. For nine years, he had a clean medical history. Until recently.
In the summer, there was one morning when Basil wouldn’t eat breakfast. Typically, first thing in the morning is when Basil would leap off the bed to start bouncing and barking because I was awake. And “I was awake” = “time to eat.” As was the routine, he would go flying down the stairs from the bedroom — yes, almost literally flying, because he would go so fast that sometimes he skipped stairs and couldn’t stop soon enough and ultimately crashed into the bathroom door. Point being: Mealtime was his favourite time of day. Maybe a close second to going for a walk.
Basil didn’t eat and followed me into another room. I figured he didn’t feel like eating because there’s some days humans aren’t hungry. It was uncharacteristic but it was only one meal so I didn’t think much of it. By suppertime, he was fine and back to his usual self. Then it happened again.
This time it was weeks, maybe even a month or two later. It was the same thing: No appetite for breakfast, followed close behind me, though this time he laid on the floor in the bathroom as I brushed my teeth.
When you’re around your dog as often as I am, any change in behaviour, even the slightest difference, is noticeable. Sometimes you file it away in case it happens again, or you have an overreaction because you think it’s the worst-case scenario. Unfortunately for Basil, it was the worst-case scenario.
Being sluggish the entire day, not eating AND refusing to go for a walk, it was extremely alarming. Initially, I got mad at him. It was a beautiful, hot day to go to the park and he was screwing up the plan. Rather than be supportive or comfort him, I took a tone and said, “OK, let’s go, Basil” as if he were just being stubborn. He wasn’t. He was in pain.
That night, again, he wouldn’t eat. I tempted him with treats and his favourite toys filled with treats. Nothing. I even splurged for Dairy Queen delivery and had a burger, fries and ice cream brought to the house. Surely, there’s no way a dog would pass up any of those, right? Wrong. He wasn’t into it. Wasn’t into it at all.
I started to take some videos of Basil — not to post on social media and garner sympathy- or support-filled responses. They were to send to the veterinarian to show how the dog was acting. I didn’t expect the doctor to make a diagnosis from a one-minute video but at least he could gain some insight if things worsened in the days ahead.
The next day, Basil had rebounded. It didn’t seem like his situation was an emergency anymore. Yes, we were still going to visit the vet, it just didn’t need to be immediate. When we did go back, the grim reality set in — although, I didn’t realize what was on the horizon at the time.
I was instructed to collect some of Basil’s urine so it could be tested at the office. At first I was unsure how to do that, but eventually managed to sneak up behind Basil when he lifted his leg and got a sour cream container partially filled. The test came back fairly normal. There wasn’t anything that worried the doctor. But there was more to check.
At that time of the day, Basil still had food and water in his system, so it was advised that we couldn’t do a blood test. The doctor felt it could wait another day or two, and we went back on a Friday. First thing Friday morning. The Friday morning I’ll never forget.
Typically, I don’t work on Fridays. Our radio shows tape Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays to cover the week, and only when there is breaking news in the celebrity world, I record on a Friday or weekend.
It was 10:35 a.m. — barely an hour after getting home from Basil’s blood test at the vet — when I received an email from the doctor. An email that changed my life, and certainly Ernie’s, and most definitely Basil’s, forever.
Basil had a severe blood disease. So severe, in fact, that the vet needed us to come back by noon to start Basil on a series of medications — immediately. No time to waste. Immediately.
But there was a problem. Ernie couldn’t come to the vet. See, as partners in crime — or dog-mestic paw-tners, as I often called them — they were a team. There was no way one was letting you leave the house without him. If Ernie had a vet appointment, they both went. Basil would be on the sidelines getting attention from everyone, but he was there. He was in tow. There was no separating them.
Thankfully, my brother lives nearby and was at home. I asked if I could bring both dogs to visit but then have his kids distract Ernie while I escaped with Basil to go to the vet. He agreed and we went there. The kids went running to the backyard with Ernie and once he was out of sight, my brother and I quickly rushed Basil to the car.
Honestly, in that moment I was more concerned for Ernie than I was Basil. I thought Ernie would look for us and think that we left him. He’d been in that yard many times before so it’s not like I was dumping him with strangers, but you can’t help but feel a little guilty.
We got to the vet. The doctor showed me the findings from the blood test. He’d printed out information about the disease and what we’d likely expect. Basil was prescribed three different medications and baby aspirin. It was noted there’d be three possible outcomes (or a combination of two). He’d either be on meds his entire life, he’d be on them and gradually come off them, or he’d die.
I asked the doctor how long Basil likely had the disease. I know that’s practically an unanswerable question. It’s like asking someone, “When did you get cancer?” Who knows. You know when it’s diagnosed. Probing further, I asked, “Could he have had this for six months? A year?”
He replied, “If Basil had this for six months without treatment, he’d be dead by now.”
Being the Friday of a holiday weekend, the doctor said to check in with him on Tuesday. He insisted Basil not go for a walk and just relax all weekend. Easier said than done. That’s like telling a bird to stop flying, a fish to stop swimming. Not. Gonna. Happen.
We didn’t walk, but there was no stopping Basil from running around the house, and up and down the stairs, in the backyard with Ernie. I felt guilty scolding him for having energy. This was a dog that wouldn’t move days earlier. I should be celebrating his newfound excitement.
Nevertheless, when the doctor emailed me on Tuesday, Basil was having a bad day. He was moping around and not interested in what we were doing. I thought going for a short walk would do him some good. I even enlisted my mom to come with us because that would certainly entice Basil and boost his spirits. It did and it didn’t. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that would be Basil’s last walk.
He was hesitant. He saw my mom and went running to the front gate. As I reached for his leash, he doubled back to the door. I unlocked the door and went inside with him, sensing he didn’t want to come. I headed back down the stairs to leave but he followed me.
“Are you coming or not?” I impatiently asked. My mom said to leave him. Then I realized he wanted to come, he just couldn’t come. So, we soldiered on. Much to Basil’s reluctance we went a few steps and he stopped. He swayed a little side to side. My mom noticed his different behaviour. I said I’d take him back to the house and she could carry on with Ernie. When I tried to go back to the house with Basil, he wouldn’t leave Ernie. I regret this. I regret making him walk that night.
Basil wasn’t well for the rest of the day. He wouldn’t jump on the couch and lay alongside me as he always did. Sensing he wanted to be near me but couldn’t bring himself to make the leap, we all laid on the floor. I moved the coffee table, spread out some blankets and pillows, and we had an indoor camp-out — something we usually did in winter, with candles lit all around and a nice comfy feeling.
Throughout the night I noticed Basil would get up and slowly inch himself away from us. I would hear a thud every time he would take a few steps and lay down — maybe “collapse” is a better word. By morning, Basil was halfway in the kitchen. He was facing away from the doorway but looked back to see Ernie and me in the doorway. His tail wagged a little, as if to say, “Hey, you guys came to see me.” Again, he didn’t eat. I eventually pulled him to the water bowl and he laid on the floor drinking from it.
Noon approached and my mom called to see how “the patient” was doing. (That’s what she calls anybody who’s sick.) I said he was sluggish and didn’t eat his food, but he did have a couple of dog treats. Somehow he had an appetite for them. By 1:30, things changed. Things changed dramatically.
Basil continued his step-step-step-fall pattern from the living room doorway, eventually reaching the couch after about 20 minutes. It was like a marathon runner giving that last burst of energy to cross the finish line. Clearly, reaching my feet was the finish line for Basil. I could tell he was struggling to get those last few steps to me. Like encouraging a toddler to walk, I gave a big hurrah when he succeeded. The celebration was short lived.
Seemingly in discomfort, Basil repositioned himself on the blankets on the floor. This time, he laid down with a thud. It was a hard landing as he rested on his side.
I literally threw my laptop onto the couch and crouched beside him. By now, Basil was huffing and puffing as if he really did run a marathon. His breathing heavy, his eyes widened. Putting my face in front of his, his eyes were scary. He looked as if he were being strangled with his eyes bulging out. I waved a hand in front of him. He blinked, he could see me. Or maybe he couldn’t. I talked to him. I put my hand on his stomach and said to calm down. I rubbed his head. I started saying, “Shhhh… it’s OK. It’s fine. We’re here.”
In a panic, I called my mom and I said, “I think Basil’s dying.” My sobbing grew more intense. My mom suggested calling the vet to see if they could look at Basil immediately. I hung up with her and called the clinic. They said to bring him right away — again, without Ernie. Hands shaking, I struggled to call back my mom and tell her I could take him in. She said she would leave right then and make the five-minute drive to my house.
Back to the floor, Basil’s breathing became intense. For a brief moment, his stomach stopped moving, though his mouth was still panting. I didn’t expect what happened next.
Like a fish on a boat gasping for air, I watched Basil’s mouth open and close — almost like he was choking. He would do it for a moment, then stop. He would start moving again and make noises, then stop.
Basil died at 2:09 p.m.
I continued talking to him, encouraging him to respond. I rubbed his stomach, stroked his ear. Nothing. By now, Ernie was in full excitement circling us and nosing at Basil. Distracted as I was, I didn’t realize my mom had arrived and was coming up the front sidewalk. Ernie noticed her approach the front door and he started barking.
She motioned to me through the window to come. I stepped back and shook my head. She said, “Come on, let’s go.” I couldn’t speak. I shook my head again. She came to the door. I said, “He’s gone.” She said he couldn’t be. She came inside, stood in the doorway and looked at the living room floor. She said he was gone.
I threw myself back onto the floor and, again, tried to get any sort of response from him. No luck. His eyes wide open, staring off into the distance. My mom said to close his eyes. She did it though and I threw myself on top of Basil, crying and saying “no.”
My mom noted that Basil died comfortably at home with us there. For years, that was always something that worried me. I was troubled by the idea of having to decide when my dog would die, should the time come he need be put down. Basil, however, made the decision.
Ernie in a frenzy, me inconsolable on the ground, and a dead dog on the floor — the house was a shitshow.
I got up and quickly sent Ernie into the kitchen and closed the door. Again, another moment of guilt because he knew something was terribly wrong. I went back to the living room and with the blanket Basil was still laying on, wrapped him in it and carried him out to the car.
The vet’s office is a few minutes away but it was the longest ride ever. I knew the dog was dead. There was no urgency to get there. We arrived and an employee got the wrapped blanket and carried it into the office. Basil was laying on the table in the room that he got to know well in the nine days since his diagnosis. He’d had no fewer than four appointments in that time.
The doctor came in, opened the blanket, said to Basil, “No, baby. No, baby,” and briefly checked for a heartbeat. There was nothing. He declared what I already knew. Baby was gone.
The doctor handed me a box of tissues, put his hand on my shoulder, expressed his sympathies and left the room. He gave the standard line: “Take your time.” Wrong thing to say to someone who writes and speaks for a living. There ain’t enough time for me to get everything out in that room.
I said the usual things: You were a good dog. I love you. Ernie’s going to miss you. Thank you for being a sweet boy.
It was tough to pull myself away from the cold, steel table. I knew that there was no more seeing that wagging tail, that slobbering tongue or hearing that playful bark. Once I left that room, I would never see him again, I would never touch him again, I would never be with him again.
Walking away was almost harder than watching him die. Leaving Basil on the table, in a room with strangers made me sick to my stomach. If I could’ve stayed the night and slept with his body to have one final cuddle — as sick as that sounds — I would’ve.
There were so many things I would’ve done differently if I’d have known it was Basil’s last day. I realize there’s nothing I can do to change how things played out but it’s still gut-wrenching to think about.
I regret not telling Basil that he brought joy to so many people. I regret getting angry when he wanted to be alone that morning. I regret not giving Ernie a chance to say goodbye.
I returned home and entered through the back door, not the front as I had exited. I opened the door to the kitchen and Ernie was standing across the room looking at the door to the living room. For the 30-ish minutes that I was gone, Ernie hadn’t moved from that spot and waited for the door to open.
As I reached for the doorknob, his tail started wagging. I slowly turned the knob and opened the door. Ernie bolted through as soon as it was wide enough for him to fit. His nose drew him right to the spot on the living room floor. He circled the spot where everything had played out. His nose led him to the front door where Basil was taken out moments earlier. Ernie’s tail wagging, his head darting from side to side as if he were looking for his friend — his brother.
Thinking he needed immediate distraction, I took Ernie for a walk. It wasn’t fully thought out. Much like every other routine in our lives, walking also had a process: Ernie on the right, Basil on the left, me in the middle. Throughout the walk, Ernie kept looking to the left where Basil would normally be. Several times he trailed behind me and appeared on my left. He only walked there for a few steps before disappearing and popping up in his usual spot to my right.
Typically, I either listen to music or an audio book while we walk. That day seemed like an upbeat music kind of day. I put my playlist on shuffle and let the phone randomly create the soundtrack.
Song 1- Roch Voisine’s I’ll Always Be There. Song 2- Aerosmith’s I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing. Song 3- Savage Garden’s The Animal Song. Seriously. I couldn’t make that up. I laughed at the idea that it was Basil screwing with me since I always teased him, too.
With the dogs fairly known in my neighbourhood, I realized we risked running into somebody familiar and having them question Basil’s absence. I chuckled at the idea of saying with a laugh, “Oh, he died an hour ago.” Fortunately, we didn’t cross paths with anyone we knew.
When we got back home, I busied myself in my office. It was a Wednesday so I didn’t have to work but I found something to hold my attention. Ernie was beside me for a while, but after a brief distraction I noticed he had left and was on the living room floor. He was on the exact spot where Basil died and was staring at the front door. He wouldn’t move.
I sat with him. There was sadness in his eyes. It was difficult to show him that things would be OK. With a human, you can talk it through. With a dog, you can’t really explain what happened, or tell him his friend is never coming back.
I tried to get Ernie to follow me into another room but had no luck. He had no interest in playing with his toys — even the stuffed animals he holds in his mouth when he’s nervous or sad. Nothing. There was no changing his mood.
With the living room still set up for the camp-out, I wondered how I could put back the furniture without feeling like I was pushing a coffee table on top of Basil.
For two weeks, the table remained off to the side and a bed sheet remained in place of the blankets and pillows. Even getting off the couch prompted a detour with me walking around the spot where Basil died. I couldn’t step where he took his last breath.
As I began to calm down, I texted my brother and my friend who knew Basil was sick. I hadn’t told anybody else. Like I said, I didn’t post a gushing and worrisome Facebook post. I’ve never done that about my life. It’s all fairly private. Nobody knew anything was wrong with Basil. Not my friends, not my relatives, nor my colleagues who know what’s happening in my life at any given moment.
I told nobody else that day. I felt it impersonal to send a text, “Hey. Basil died.” People would either take that as a joke or turn it into a rapid-fire text marathon. There was no way I was explaining this entire story by text. Even now, typing on a regular keyboard, one of my hands is throbbing.
I decided to start making phone calls the next morning. Fortunately, with coronavirus shutdowns, many people weren’t at work. I leashed up Ernie and we set out for a long walk. I got through two calls in that time, both equally as emotional. With my sunglasses covering my teary eyes, I wasn’t overly concerned people would see my pain.
I had both colleagues crying on the other end of the phone. My monologue of a story garnered sniffles and the occasional audible sob. I reassured people I didn’t want “I’m sorry”s. In a sense, I just wanted to know somebody was there listening. It wasn’t so much a conversation as it was a listening session for them. Then again, that’s most one-on-one interactions with me.
I arrived home with Ernie. By that time it was early afternoon. I made two more calls before pausing for a moment — actually getting goosebumps and feeling my face get cold. It was approaching 2 p.m. It was almost exactly 24 hours since Basil died.
My chat buddy sensed I was distracted and I told her that I froze when I noticed the time. She said to go for another walk so I wasn’t in the exact spot where it all played out. Hurriedly, I woke Ernie and he was more than happy to check out the neighbourhood again.
I went into my home recording studio five hours after Basil died and just talked. I voiced every detail, every emotion. The non-stop segment was 52 minutes. At the beginning of the recording, I said I wasn’t sure if anybody would ever hear it because I might change my mind about being so open and vulnerable. I later listened to it three more times. It wasn’t to critique my performance. Hell, I’ve been on the air a long time. Instead, I was intrigued by hearing myself hurt. I’m not usually a crier. I’m not usually one who needs emotional support. Somehow, listening to myself breakdown was what I needed in that moment.
Harder yet was the idea of looking through my “Dogs” folder of photos. I was already at the computer, it was a mere click to open the pictures. I couldn’t. I physically couldn’t bring myself to look at any of the happy moments with Basil. The only thing I could look at — as morbid as it is — was the picture of his dead face that I took hours earlier before walking out of the vet’s exam room.
The firsts were all painful.
The first time I had a bath, I broke down and sat naked in the tub for 10 minutes before filling it with water. In an upright fetal position, I shivered and refused to start the tap. I stared straight ahead or down. I couldn’t look to the left where both dogs would anticipate the splashes of water as the tub filled. On days when it would be a bubble bath, Basil would anxiously sit and wait for me to swipe some foam with my finger and plop it on his nose.
The first time I had a meal in the living room was awkward. Without the coffee table in position, it was strange holding the plate on my lap as I watched TV. And no matter how inconvenient the arrangement was, I still couldn’t put back the table. I just couldn’t.
The first weekend when we could go to the park was tough, but tougher for Ernie. That’s where he and Basil would wrestle and play tug-of-war. I filled a backpack with some of Ernie’s toys, a new bone and flask of whisky, and we went to the park. I laid out some towels where Ernie chewed his bone and I calmed myself with classic episodes of WKRP in Cincinnati on my phone. Maybe the booze helped a little with the calming.
We were laying in the field where the three of us spent countless summer afternoons. Ernie was distracted as he ate and watched the people passing by in every direction. When we got back home we did some paw paintings in the backyard. This was always a favourite for the two dogs. Either I would lay down tarps and towels on the kitchen floor or we’d head outside with finger paints to decorate paper, grass, their fur and my face. I think the dogs liked the ending because that’s when paint went everywhere.
Leading up to today, I secretly recorded radio segments with Dr. Phil talking about the grieving process when families lose pets. I had a great conversation with Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan, who told me what Ernie was going through as he mourned. I even had a touching call with Winnipeg’s mayor, Brian Bowman, who shared stories about his dog and talked about pet adoption in the city, since Basil came from “the pound.”
A couple of weeks ago, I pursued adopting a puppy. The animal rescue knew my story and found the “perfect dog” for me. I was excited. I felt Ernie needed a new friend. On the way there, however, something told me it wasn’t time. As I got closer to the foster home, I felt sick to my stomach. I told myself I would make a decision within the first two minutes of meeting the puppy. Either he was going home with me or I’d never see him again.
I felt no pressure and confidently chose not to adopt. As I prepared myself to leave, I could sense the foster “mom” knew I wasn’t ready. In fact, I started tearing up when I mentioned I felt like I was replacing Basil. She said she was hopeful I’d return but added, “Or maybe I won’t see you again.” She was right.
When I got home, I hugged Ernie extra tight. We went for a long walk. We had a relaxing night watching TV. I had a new comfort with it being a one-dog house. I was always one of those people who encouraged pet parents to quickly get another dog when theirs died. I understand now it’s not as easy as it sounds.
I’ve been typing this for two hours. There’s something freeing about taking whatever is bottled up inside and releasing it through your fingers — be it with a pen or a keyboard. When I wrote my first book, there was so much from my childhood, youth and early adult years that I hadn’t told anybody. I had no trouble documenting it all in a book. Granted, to outsiders the story was bizarre but I felt a sense of relief to finally get it out, no matter how crazy or unstable it made me look.
Same goes for sharing my feelings about Basil’s passing. Yes, I’ve had weeks and weeks of conversations with people, and had time to process things (often in my bathtub). But until I finally “came out” in a sense, and shared the story with the world, I felt held back. No different than someone who’s gay and eventually works up the courage to announce their true self.
As much grieving and storytelling as I’ve done in the past two months, I think this is my final chapter in mourning the loss of my beloved Basil. Now is the right time for me to accept that he is gone physically but he is still with me — he is still with us.
Writing this has given me the closure I needed. This post is more for me than anyone else. Honestly, I’m surprised you’ve read this far. Thanks for taking an interest in my story. I’ve put off writing this for weeks. Like a school paper with a looming deadline, I heard the clock ticking. Today, the date I agreed to share the news across our broadcast platforms, I prepared myself for it.
I needed to do this. I really needed this. This is a eulogy of sorts. It’s what I’ve spoken for weeks but putting it in writing somehow makes it official. Releasing all this through my now-numbing fingertips has given me the ability to take a deeper breath and not feel a slight pain in my chest; the sense I can run around the block four times with ease; the feeling that I can face tomorrow like there isn’t something missing in my life.
Basil is still here. In my head, he’s still walking with us, he’s still beside the bathtub, he’s still curled up on the couch. It’s not an empty house without him. It’s calmer, sure. But it’s laid back. It’s chill. It’s relaxed.
I sense no more tears coming. I feel no pain, just as he doesn’t. My heart isn’t racing like when I started typing this. There’s a numbness and my hands are cold. It doesn’t feel negative or bad. My body is calm. I’m feeling how Basil would want me to feel. He’s at peace and knowing that makes me feel the same.