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Posted by Jessica on Nov 8, 2010
Happy Anniversary, Belly

As I sit down to write this post, it's been nearly five months since our baby boy Belly passed away in our arms. But the day I plan on posting it – November 8th – will be the anniversary of many, many happy things in our life.

On November 8th in 2002, Tim and I met for the first time near Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. And around the same time that same year, Belly was born halfway across the world in a little village in the jungles of northern Thailand. We wouldn't meet the fuzzy little guy for a few more years, not until April 2006, but Tim and I love knowing that the moment we met in November 2002 and began falling in love was nearly (if not exactly) the same moment our little guy came into this world.

(The video above was actually taken by another visitor to Elephant Nature Park – we're not sure who, we just happened to find it on YouTube one day! It joyfully captures Belly in his element at the Park "playing tag" with one of the baby elephants, back before we adopted him.)

Completely by coincidence, four years after we first met and four years after Belly was born, November 8th in 2006 was also the day Belly arrived in America. It was the day our entire family was home, together.

I won't pretend these last five months without Belly have been easy. There's no point in putting on a stiff upper lip and pretending like we haven't been absolutely devastated by his passing. You guys know us too well for that, not to mention it's just not who we are. We wear our hearts on our sleeves. And anyone who had been lucky enough to have known Belly would know he did too.

I won't even pretend our grief over his loss has gotten easier as time has passed. It hasn't. Our grief has changed over time, but it hasn't gone away. I don't expect that it will ever, really, or that it needs to either. It will just continue to change and become more a part of our selves. Some days will be easier and some days will be harder. But every day we will continue to love our baby boy. And every day we are thankful for having him in our life for as long as we did, for that moment in the jungle in April 2006 when he chose us to be his mommy and daddy.

He was – and continues to be – such a wonder pup to us. And his star, and his story, still shine brightly. We've been overwhelmed by the number of times people have contacted us to share how moved they are by his adoption story. And we're hopeful it's inspired more people to adopt their own doggy, a scruffy little guy or gal who will show them how much love there is in the world and exactly how deeply it is that they can love.

So in honor of our little guy's birthday, and in honor of his immigration to the United States, we wanted to share a few more photos of Belly. And tonight, on November 8th, while under the stars in South Africa, we'll be making wishes for him and telling him how much we love him just as we always have and always will.

We love you, Belly. You're such a good boy. Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary, little one. We'll see you in our dreams tonight.

'Belly watches over Jessica (you can see her next to the green bucket in the middle of the photo) giving the eles a bath in the Mae Taeng River near the Park

'Enjoying some time in the sun while the eles hang out nearby at the feeding platform

'At home in Cape Cod with his kitty sister China, watching some squirrels together

'Exploring the Shenandoah Mountains with mommy and daddy

'Getting a hug from his daddy...while clearly looking for squirrels in the distance!

'Looking quite pitiful as 'moon dog' wearing his little cone while recovering from a scratch on his paw

'For a doggy who was born in the jungle, he really loved the sea...

'...and the snow. This is the beach nearby our house which he loved to explore with us.

'Good boy, Belly. Good boy.

If you enjoyed this story, you might also like these ones:

A Ridiculously Silly Slideshow

A Ridiculously Silly Slideshow

Happily Ever After

Happily Ever After

Another Day of Reflection

Another Day of Reflection

November 5, 2010 at 6:36am
I love that photo of Belly & China I might make it my background…where are all your SA pics and stuff are you waiting until you get home grrrrr…
November 5, 2010 at 7:33am
I love that photo too. We'll have to send it to you: I'm sure Belly would feel quite proud to be on your desktop. And China, of course, would be rather pleased too. :)
Maggie (Tim's sister)
November 5, 2010 at 3:51pm
November 6, 2010 at 11:34am
Thank you, Maggie. *hughug*
November 7, 2010 at 7:05am
Rembering the passing of a cherished best friend is made sweeter when the photos make you smile. Isn't that what we all hope for when we have best friends? Someone who makes us smile.

Smilingly yours,

November 9, 2010 at 2:11pm
Oh boy..you guys did it again! I am sitting at my desk at work, eating lunch and in tears over your sweet little guy Belly! I love the last photo, from your wonderful descriptions of him that seems to so capture his personality.
Cyber hugs to you both and I can't wait to go home and hug Maddy!
p.s…enjoy South Africa!
November 14, 2010 at 11:36am
Janet – Thank you so much. What an absolutely beautiful, and very true, sentiment for us to hold on to. You're a good friend. *hugs*
November 14, 2010 at 11:38am
Rhonda – Your comment made both of us smile through our tears. And you're spot on about that last photo. It very much embodies our little guy. :)

Give Maddy an extra hug (and a few treats too!) from us. :)

December 11, 2010 at 2:52am
I haven't checked in on your blog in years probably now… since you returned from your trip and then adopted Belly! That's so sad to hear that he passed away, but at least you guys are honoring his memory :)
December 14, 2010 at 3:21pm
Hey Brooke! Thanks so much for checking in with us! How have you been?

And thank you for such a sweet comment about Belly. We definitely try to honor his memory every day…and fingers crossed his adoption story inspires someone else to adopt their own little guy/gal one day too. :)

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