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Happy Birthday Dad

Dear Dad,

Happy 79th Birthday! It’s been 13 years since I’ve been able to wish you a happy birthday in person and boy do I miss that. You and our Irish taught me how to celebrate every day, but especially birthdays!!!

I know you are celebrating in the best of company tonight but I just wanted to let you know that you are not forgotten down here in the least! I miss talking to you every day. I miss your levelheaded advice and council. I miss your smile.

However, I very often shake my head at this time of the year with what you got me into! Hope and Friendship wouldn’t have started without you leaving the earth, and though it’s been a great way for me to put my hands, feet and heart to work living out the legacy you set forth, I do feel sometimes that it might have been easier had you stuck around and we could just sit around a table on the holidays wearing stretch pants, loving and laughing like I so should have treasured even more than I did.

I spoke to an older gentleman tonight, older than you are today, and your name came up. He was so very grateful for the offering of a Christmas Dinner. He enjoyed hearing the caroling (oh did you love to sing!) and he was very appreciative of the cookies (not sure if you liked to sing more or eat cookies more!). He lives alone and has no one to spend Christmas with. He was absolutely thrilled and expressed such gratitude to have a home cooked Christmas Dinner promised to him. In fact we will be delivering quite a few meals to persons who are alone on Christmas and that’s when it hit me that you are still here. You are the inspiration and my drive for what is happening. You were always the heart that never wanted to see anyone lonely, forgotten, or struggling. You reached out and touched the heart of everyone you met and did your best to treat them with love, respect and compassion, and for that I am thankful. I learned unconditional love from you and mom and am so blessed to be able to mark your memory here on this earth long after you have stopped leaving footprints, now you are just leaving heartprints and I have the pure blessing to see that happen.

So I guess for your birthday you received a gift even though I couldn’t personally give you one, you received the gift given in love of inspiring the giving of the gift of love. When I get the chance to sit down on Christmas night I know I will once again miss you even more but be so very grateful that your time on this earth inspired me, filled me, and set me forward to be the hands, feet and heart of Jesus as I saw you do from my first memory of you, to my very last. Those are my gifts from you and I hold them so tight especially tonight.

Happy Birthday Dad. I sincerely hope you can see what your legacy is doing here in this corner of the world and I truly hope you know how proud I am to be your daughter who was filled up and sent out to make a difference by a man who didn’t talk the talk but passionately and purposely walked the walk. I love you more than written words can express, but you know my heart because it emulates yours.

Love forever and always, Terri


I will pray for you….

“I will pray for you….”

How often do you hear that phrase? Do you feel comforted by it or do you wonder the value of it? As a Chaplain, as a Christian, I truly welcome time of prayer. I pray constantly. When I wake, when I drive, when I have a non-chaotic moment, when I have a chaotic moment, when I eat, when I see my husband and my family, when I sit next to one who has lost a loved one or who has been delivered a very difficult hand, when I lay down at night, and because I know my brain fails to shut off, I am convinced I pray as I sleep. I am not a very good verbal prayer person, ironic for a Police Chaplain and non-profit founder, I know. I have had officers ask me if I was going to pray as we were about to walk up to a house to deliver a death notice, I told them I have been the entire time! I have said a prayer for a retiring officer that left the room questioning whether he was dead or retiring, even the retiring officer himself wondered whether he had heard his retirement prayer or eulogy.  I have uttered words in stutter, stumble and inept sentences. I have tried and failed to pray out loud, but know I have prayed for you, and countless, in silence and with passion.

There are a few times in my life that I have passionately and vivaciously prayed for one need, one cause, one request harder and more fervently than I pray for anything: when my father battled cancer; when a dear friend was at death’s door; and recently when my husband was thrust into his battle. I understand prayer and my relationship with God, it doesn’t mean that when I ask I get; this is not a Christmas List, this is life. My prayers may not have been answered in the way I would have written the answer, yet I know they were heard because life, love, and healing flowed forward. We live in a world that is of freedom of choice, a world where the devil walks, a world that though we may do good we may not feel favored.

This morning, honestly though the night and the many nights before, I was talking to God, again. We were to meet with the surgeon today and I needed to let God know, just one more time, that though I “wanted” one outcome, I understood that another may be our destiny and though I wish my husband wouldn’t have to suffer anymore than he has, if he was to, I prayed for strength, tenacity and endurance for the path we would walk, no matter what.

So many have texted, called, emailed, Facebook messaged and commented telling us you are praying. Some say it as a knee-jerk reflex because it is “what we are supposed to say”.   Honest it is work to pray. It is work to converse, and prayer is a conversation. It isn’t just saying words upwards it is sitting and being and listening and feeling. When you say you will pray you might as well say you’re going to come help and wash the windows.

A few years ago, as Terry and I drove toward Nashville for the birth of our second grandchild we received a text, there was distress at birth she was in danger.  We drove the remainder of the journey in painful silence. I texted my pastor friends. I prayed silently and fervently. I did what I had control of, and I did it with all I had to offer. When we arrived at the hospital, we learned that our granddaughter was able to battle through and recover (she is a happy healthy 3 year old fireball of energy). The night of her birth when we were laying in bed and Terry said to me “What happens to those who don’t have that prayer? Are those who don’t have an army to pray for them sunk?” Wow. What an astute question and feeling. I answered no. God hears the prayers before they are said and He sees the needs as they are presented. He is not sitting up in Heaven playing chess- rook for your queen; Baby A has 498 prayers offered thus saved, Baby B no prayers, come on home to heaven; Man named Joe has had a hard life I’ll spare him this battle, Woman named Jane needs to be seasoned a bit more she can handle this challenge.

God is not a God of games.

God is a God of grace.

We are a people of free will, free choice and walking in a world that is not Heaven.

Life is not fair.

We are not here for eternity; we are here hoping to earn our path to eternity.

As the martyrs and saints will tells us, some will be spared torture, some will enter heaven before us having suffered.

Jesus himself asked to be spared.

Does prayer matter?

My completely unprofessional and yet seasoned opinion: yes. Unequivocally, yes.

My father and my husband felt strength in your prayers. You cared to offer yourself to them. You cared to take the time to stop and talk to God about them. You invested passion and relationship into their battles. You were a part of this difficult chapter. You paused life for a moment and talked to God on their behalf.

Whether it ends in a blaze of glory or a crash and burn, those that are prayed for feel the strength of more than themselves and their God, they feel you present with them in the battle.

Today my husband was told he is cancer free. He didn’t earn it by a wild card, or an easy journey. He had a choice of three paths, he choose the hardest path because the outcome seemed to be the best option, if he survived the battle. He underwent a massive radical surgery that even the most skilled surgeon admitted today he does not like doing (yet he did it with such expertise and confidence). He battled through pain that I ached and was heartbroken to witness him struggle through. He has suffered physical repercussions and scars that will may not go away, but he was told today he was not being sentenced to more combat, but just to continue to heal from the battle he had ensued.

I cried. And I stopped to pray and thank God for the moment.

Did prayer heal him or free him from more suffering? I say it helped his spirit, it helped him feel stronger through the battle and the recovery, but I also tell you that we caught his cancer early. We didn’t sit back and let God “move” him, we moved leaning on prayer to guide us to the right persons and right path. He will tell you his wife drug him into the doctor on the first complaint of symptoms and drug him through at least 7 more doctor visits as we rode a roller coaster of indecision, surgery, and questions begetting questions. We found few who gave us solace and solid direction, and through all I prayed. At the cusp of decision, my husband was presented with three choices: let whatever happens happen, choose a path of a 10 week radiation treatment that might cause more damage to your body, or undergo the most radical and dangerous surgery option possible to scoop out everything in your mouth and neck possible hoping remove all trace of the cancer, if this doesn’t get it all, you will still have to do the radiation.

He chose the most difficult road. He gambled. Life is a gamble. The end result is death or life to continue for more gambling, more choices to be made. May our source of confidence and strength in our choices be the God who understands that we don’t know what the future holds we only have control over putting our feet on a path and walking it with confidence, asking Him to be by our side. He put his feet on the path towards being cancer free and walked it like a warrior, and today exited the Cancer Center hearing the words “You’re cancer free”.

As we walked out I looked at every patient in the waiting area and saw those who have obviously been through more than a battle, and who are far from the end of their battle, they are waging a war. I wondered, and hoped that they were wearing the armor of prayer. Though it may not spare them the scars it surely will strengthen them through the battle.

I have seen that to be true.

Thank you for strength, thank you for your prayers.

Continue to offer that armor, support, compassion and faith to all walking wounded. May you know the power of prayer, and if you need to know it may you be surrounded by it because then, and only then, will you be able to speak of it’s value and potency.

“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” ~ Max Lucado

Wishing you peace, love, strength and many many prayers,


Terri O’Neill-Borders

The wait….

Torture comes in many forms. Suspense, action, and horror motives depict the infliction of physical torture in one-eye-covering format. Military, Police, Fire, and First Responders can tell tales of pain witnessed and felt that will abruptly make you cover the other eye.

Someone who has watched their significant other walk into the sunset with another can speak of experience of a heart wrenching emotional pain tearful pain.

Holding the hand of the one you have been riding shotgun with, awoken and laid down next to, lived, breathed and created 40 years of family memories and love with as they close their eyes for the final time will bring a tear to the most stoic of faces.

A parent who has closed the casket over the body of their child will tell you of a pain so severe that would make those aforementioned hardcore warriors bow their heads with a tear in their eyes.

Both physical and emotional torture can be understood and sympathized with by one who has never walked through it. A shudder, a turn of the stomach, a tear or a goose bump can be stimulated by simply the retelling of the story.

Yet how easily the mental torture of “the wait” can be missed, or left on the table, invalidated torture and duress. Unless you have sat on the other side of the door, with your two young children, awaiting the knock of the landlord who will come calling for the rent, with eviction notice in hand, for an amount to secure a basic need that you simply do not have. Unless you have begun your workday knowing at day’s end will you find out if you are one of the half of the workforce that will be laid off. Or, unless you sit in a waiting room of an ER slipping through the pages of a magazine seeing not, nor reading of one single word, for your attention is focused on the door that will open telling you if your loved one has survived or not.

I know so many of you understand the intense frustration when the most dismissed form of torture and hardship is often served with a side of a happenchance cliché: “God will provide” “He has a plan” “It’ll all be okay” “He doesn’t give you more than you can handle”, or the dagger “I know exactly how you feel” followed by the sharing of their story of something that is completely NOT the same and definitely NOT how you feel.

This note is for those who have wrestled with the demons that raise every hair follicle on your body with fear pumping through your veins for what awaits you next week, tomorrow, or when you walk through that door; for those with their phones by their side, cancelling all plans, holding your breath waiting for “the call”. The call that will give you a renewed perspective on life or reduce you to a heap on the floor crying out “why me, why now?”

My thoughts, prayers and love are focused on those who cannot make any plans for the weekend because they have no idea what the minute after “the call” will unveil. My thoughts and prayers are with the hearts that are so frailly woven with faith and an understanding that we won’t live forever and that our next moment is never guaranteed.

I find myself here once again and instead of being able to simply say I sympathize, I share with you that I emphasize and I want you to know that you do not wait alone.

I have found that God has walked with me through many a trial in my half century plus of life and those challenges I have found have not stopped me, but rather have strengthened me through grace, faith and belief that I am not here without a purpose.

I have found that though I would have chosen to not experience the pain, there has been another who has found comfort in my arms or allowed me the humble privilege to be the set of ears as they reveal their story knowing I will not offer a cliché or undermine their pain but have, and will, instead offered ears, eyes and a heart that demonstrate compassion from one that has earned “scars” and has crawled through battles as well and one who humbly and quietly bears those wounds earned to those that need to see them.

As gladiators ready for battle, we must too show our wounds, scars, and courage to those we can inspire and encourage. The One who goes into battle with us is the One who understands, shows, and has saved others because of His scars.

I sit here knowing and thinking of others right here, right now within my arm’s reach who are in a painful battle, on the edge of being launched into the battle, or worse, being sent into another round of battle.

I am thinking of you right now and I am so sincerely wishing I could provide relief for this torture and erase the chance of you being “called” into “life combat”.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can.

And, the Wisdom to know the difference.

I cannot change where you are, however, I can offer myself to your battle as an empathic sidekick and offer to endure the wait with you, to be a source of emotional and physical support as you walk through this.

I do not write to you for pity, or for response. I do not seek sympathy or support. What I hope is that with these words I change our corner of the world and how we care for those we pass in our everyday. Yes, a bit of an overachiever but it is a curse I live and breathe (and my husband’s by default of marrying me).

I cannot make the call come sooner and I cannot predict the outcome, but I can change how I respond to others who will tell me of their wait, and so can anyone who reads this.

I, and others, can try to understand that our “well intentioned” words, cliché, Bible verse, positive quote or cheerleader attitude are not what needs to be brought to the moment, but rather sincerity of the heart, spirit and word.

I, personally commit to act, not speak, comfort in quiet heartfelt power, in strength of passion, and of truly offered prayers, and to be an unconditional support embedding in minds, hearts and spirits, of those who are struggling, ensuring them sincerely that they will not walk from “the wait” to “the battle” alone.

Whether it be a card, a call, a text, an offer of a meal, coffee or accompaniment at church, doctor’s, or on a bench at the park, where the busyness of children might offer a comfortable distraction. Let us remember that even in the darkest hour of the God many of us turn to in ours, he knelt to pray to His Father to spare Him of the call to battle, asking His closest friends to join him and simply “be” with him as he awaited “the call”. He found strength in numbers, and of friendship.

This chapter of life has reminded me to remember the importance of action over words. To act with love, and not simply stop at speaking of it, and that support in action, no matter how small, simply or easily offered, can and will change this corner of the world and the lives of those who are within it.

It has reminded me and strengthened me to reach further and with more empathy and passion for Hope and Friendship was created as a conduit of kindness and compassion for those who struggle in any and every battle.

May we unite to walk with our neighbor strengthening them to in turn walk, accompany, or sit with another, with us as we wait, or walk, into life’s next battle.

“They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.” Psalm 112:7

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

Wishing you peace, love, fellowship, and strength in your wait and in your battles,

Terri O’Neill-Borders




Hope and Friendship Foundation
721 Hickory St, Lemont, IL  60439

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Proverbs 31: 8-9

This is NOT how I planned it…


I have found life to be all about “plan b”. I am one who has a plan for the day before my feet hit the floor in the morning. I make lists. I write out the day’s schedule and I keep a monthly planner in my bag, and on my refrigerator. I get comments all of the time wondering how I get so much done, well I have a plan to maximize each of the 1,440 minutes of each day that I’m blessed to be given.

Yes I have a plan, but I have been taught by those before me, and by life itself, that I need to be ready to move to plan b, and possibly further on.


Our lives start with a direction and whether be by our own accord, or by life’s vicious punches, often we are traversed off of the easier path of life and catapulted on the path that batters and bruises us, and if we survive that off road course we have the only prize being the choice to be bitter or better from the journey.


When I am feeling a bit sour from a chapter or two of an off road life course I have to find comfort that I am not the first, nor will I be the last. I think of Mary who was a young bride to be, on top of the world, then in one night’s vision found out that she was about to be an outcast, the village gossip story, a possible single parent to none other than the God of our world. As the “plan b” unfolded she would be accompanied by the one she was betrothed to, she would bear a healthy baby, enjoy a time of being a happy family of three, while hearing predications of how the “rest of the story” would play out. This young girl accepted a life detour that led to her delivering “the baby” who would become “the young man” who would save all who choose to follow.


I understand fully that many who read this do not accept my choice of the Greatest Book of History to be fact and for those I remind you of others who taught us to adapt and live through “plan bs”. Anne Frank. Anne had a plan to get up each day and enjoy being a kid. Anne’s plan turned quickly shortly after she hit her double digits.   She found the purpose, strength and gifts within her to simply do what she was gifted to do: write. She documented her life adaptions and feelings in diary format. She died at the age of 15, in a concentration camp, yet her words and her determination to better the world. as she had the ability to, continues to impact lives to this day.

“I don’t think of all of the misery but of the beauty that remains.”


Lou Gerhig was a baseball record setting machine. A true video game creation, prev-video game era, living his life in 3D until being leveled by a disease that would later ironically be awarded the name of one who made a career of earning awards. On the day he was honored by his city, by his sport, by the world, he stood weakly but spoke powerfully:

“Fans, for the past two weeks, you’ve been reading about a bad break. Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth….So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for. – Thank you.”


There are countless before us who demonstrate strength, courage, tenacity in the face of life’s detours, who choose to better the world instead of being bittered by it, more than I can list for you and more created every single day. My point being that we are not the first to be knocked to the mat by a life blow, and we will not be the last. Take a moment, feel the blow, feel the sting and the hurt but do not stay down. Know that your place is not down and your purpose is not to be knocked out by the blow but to rise from it stronger and more determined to leave your mark on the world, not to be a victim from it.


Love lost, child buried, job cut, cancer battle, life blows come in many forms. The strength to rise comes from within and from whom who you wish to be inspired by. If you are feeling lost on inspiration let me lead you to the One that I have and I continue to lean on during my life blows, the One that I know understands, encourages, and believes in me even more than I believe in myself.


“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11


I will not fail if I continue to rise back up. May you feel the strength to rise back up. May you take the life blows and turn them to lessons to be learned and to share. May you be bettered not bittered by your challenges. We can strengthen each other as a community who understands what it is to be challenged, beaten and leveled to the mat. Lend that hand, offer that word of encouragement, share that lesson learned, walk beside one who needs a companion through the storm. Bear your scars with humility and strength knowing that One before you changed the world with His, so that you can too.


Wishing you peace, love, strength and beauty in your every day,

Terri O’Neill-Borders




Hope and Friendship Foundation
721 Hickory St, Lemont, IL  60439

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Proverbs 31: 8-9

The night before…

The night before….

There cannot be many who have not had anxiety on “the night before”.

You prepare, you procrastinate, you plan on how you will maximize the most of the hours between now and that moment and then you realize the heaviness of what you are about to step into.

The night before that final exam.

The night before your wedding day.

The scheduled arrival of your baby.

The night before the finalization of your divorce.

The night before your job interview.

The night before you plan to confront the one who reduces you to tears.

The night before the funeral.

The night before your surgery.

We, my beloved and I, are now here, and I think of those who have been here before us and those who will be here after us.

Tomorrow we step foot into the unknown and it is not a friendly territory.

Tomorrow could be the last day, or tomorrow could be the first day.

Or tomorrow could just be another day in this most difficult chapter of life.

Tomorrow is hours away and it scares the calm out of us.

As I prepare to lay down and try to sleep for a couple hours I think of so many who have dreaded tomorrow.

I feel with deep empathy those that have shared this anxiety, fear, pain, stress and worry during the night before.

And before I kissed my beloved goodnight on this night, I assured him that there is One who understands “the night before” and who has pled, cried, bled and begged through it.  One who couldn’t even count on His best friends to stay awake with Him.  One who knew where He was going was better than where He was yet He didn’t want to walk the path from the night before to the next day.

I reminded my beloved of this:

Matthew 26:36-46 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”  He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”  Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”  Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.  So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!

So here I sit on the night before as the hours become minutes and the distance between now and then begin to rapidly rush to meet one another, I listen to my beloved as he sleeps and I think of you.  If you are the one who is to walk the walk may you feel the strength from the One who walked it before you feeling the power fill your every weak cavity.  If you are the one who is to walk beside may you feel the strength, love and peace of all of us who are awake with you hoping for your strength to be enough.  No one asks to be in this club and no one earns a merit badge from walking through it, however….on the other side of this night, after the struggle, pain, trials, battle wounds and scars you need to know that you will be in the company of not just One who understands, loves and embraces you as the warrior that you are, but of many.

Stand strong and know you are not alone.

You are not alone.

Power yourself from within with the strength of those who have kept watch through a very similar night before, and then bravely walked the journey toward the day after.

You are a warrior, you are stronger than your greatest challenge, you are greater than the most negative voice in your head.

Channel in and hear the battle cry of those who have prevailed; step forward and conquer. then speak loudly to join in inspiring the next one who sits alone on “the night before”.

Speak purposely, confidently, encouragingly and compassionately to those who need to move through those most painful well remembered hours.

Don’t let another One think they are alone.

Love on every person as if they have come through the “night before”.

Wishing you peace and strength,

Terri O’Neill-Borders




Hope and Friendship Foundation
721 Hickory St, Lemont, IL  60439

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who
are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the
poor and needy.”
Proverbs 31: 8-9

If you knew it was today, how would you spend it?

I had to put our dog to rest on Monday.  She battled for a few months from bone cancer and fought valiantly, even after losing use of one of her front legs.  Our over 12 year old Rottweiler drug her way through every day adjusting to her ever changing body.

I called our vet office Monday morning and fought through the tears to schedule her final visit.

I arrived home from work a few hours before that visit and decided we would spend some of those hours outside enjoying the amazingly beautiful day, allowing her to experience for what I knew was the last time:  the feeling of the sun, the smells in the air, sounds to perk up to, and to lay with her sister dog, her inseparable companion, by her side.

She soaked it all in.

She has a peace about her as she laid back and absorbed it all, a seemingly knowing peace.

A half hour before we were scheduled to arrive at the vet appointment, I carefully placed her in the passenger seat of my jeep, opened the windows, helped her position facing out the window and we took a last ride.

I kept glancing over to see her with her head out, ears flapping, sniffing, snorting, slobbering and not missing a moment of the experience.  Once in awhile she’d look over at me as if to see if I was doing the same thing.

When you’re enjoying a moment don’t you hope everyone around you is as well?

Did she know it was her last ride?  Could she sense the heaviness in my heart?

Or is it simply that dogs always appreciate every moment more thoroughly than we do?  I already know for a fact that dogs love better, and more unconditionally than we do.  Why wouldn’t they be a lesson to us on how to love and live better?

Today I scripted her last day and her last hours and I was the one who held her when she passed.

Would she have chosen the same last activities?

Would she have chosen me to be the one that held her when she passed?

The beauty of a dog is the way they love.  She looked at me throughout the day with love and gratitude.  She leaned in.  She kissed.  She laid her head down on my legs.  She gave me her infamous “joker smile”.  She never appeared to be disappointed, judgmental, angry, or irritated with me in any way.  But she never did on any other day, why would she do differently on her last day.

She practiced a true, consistent, steady, faithful, trusting love until her last breath.

She trusted me as we laid on the floor in a place that she wasn’t familiar with, but was calm as I stayed calm.

She looked up at me to see if I was ok then laid her head down for the last time resting it on my lap.

I rubbed her head and watched her be at peace.

I couldn’t help but wonder how she might’ve written this last page of her story, and how I would write mine if I could know.

What would I choose to do?  Who would I want my last visitors to be?  Who would I want to be with me when I close my eyes?  How beautifully, peacefully and trustingly would I accept it?

As has been the case for the past few months I have learned much from my dying dog, and I am better for it.

I plan to not waste the lessons she taught to me, and to honor her memory doing just as she demonstrated: absorbing each moment to the fullest as if I may not experience it again; appreciating those and what is around me more; and trusting, living and loving unconditionally leaving a memory of peace behind me as I travel through each day until my last day.

If we could live and love more like our dogs do, wouldn’t the world be a much better place?





Wishing you peace,
Terri & Bubbles ❤

Terri O’Neill-Borders




10 lessons I am learning from my dying dog

About a month ago during what I thought would be a quick vet visit to tell us that one of my son’s two dogs (which somehow I have formally adopted) had a pulled leg muscle, arthritis, or a sore paw, became a moment when the vet compassionately came into the room, after examining the Xrays, and delivered the painful news that Bubbles had bone cancer. My husband and I were numb, both of our eyes tinkled a bit as we drove home. Since that day we have not only savored every moment, but appreciated every loving lesson that Bubbles has been teaching us as the number of her days dwindle. I have learned much from books, movies, the Bible, and from those who have lived far longer than I, however, the most impactful lessons in my life have come as I have walked through the last days with a beating heart that I have loved.


  • Trust and lean on those who love and care for you-

I watched Bubbles allow myself, and the vet, push and prod on her most painful leg and she patiently allowed us to do so. Before the pain medicine, or when it hasn’t kicked in, I have ached when she has come up to be and laid her head on my leg letting me know that it simply just hurts.


  • Learn to adapt

Bubbles has gone from an able bodied 75 pound 4 legged dog to a crippled 3 legged, hobbling, pain-filled being. The first couple of days I had to help her by carrying her, after that she had to learn to survive. She learned to get herself out the door and to the front lawn. She had to adapt to a restricted area of living in the house and outside, not able to access the back yard due to steps. She has done nothing but master, conquer, and kick butt on learning how to manage this life as it is now.


  • When the pain gets too great, don’t hesitate to rest

When she just cannot stand anymore she will rest. I know she would love to run, explore, and play but for now she understands that her limitations are greater than her desire to be who she was. She takes a break to rest for the next moment.


  • Don’t stop showing love to those who love you

She may not be able to run to the door or show the physical appreciation she used to, but by golly she surely communicates her love in every way. Upon seeing my husband or my son, every part of her body that can wiggle, wag, and lean does so in a wholehearted loving manner. No one can ever say she didn’t love through the pain.


  • Don’t worry

Bubbles cannot get to where she wants sometimes. She has yelped and panted; she has laid her head on my leg and communicated unequivocally that she is in pain, however she has never shown stress or worry. No sign of stress from this beautiful spirit showing me that I can toughen up a bit more.


  • Enjoy every moment

The other day we carried Bubbles down into the back yard to enjoy some time while we worked in the garden. She visited her dog friend to the north yard and her dog friend to the south yard. She enjoyed a visit from our neighbors. She laid down and rested when she tired of standing and she soaked in the yard that she used to rule. She completely lived in the moment.


  • Take time to soak it all in

I have watched Bubbles just stand in place and put her nose in the air to smell what is going on in our “hood”. She observes, smells, explores to her limits and soaks in every minute trying not to miss any gift from her creator.


  • Don’t avoid the opportunity to comfort one another

We have two dogs. One came a few years after Bubbles had already claimed dominance to the home, yet Chance slid into place as “sister”. During these past few weeks I have watched Chance slide into place right next to her “sister” in a position of support and comfort giving Bubbles nothing but love and compassion as only an unconditionally loving heart can.


  • When you need help, let someone help you

There are times myself, my husband, or my son, have had to pick up this large beast and gently carry her to where she needs or wants to be and she cooperates. She doesn’t battle us or wrestle, she concedes that she needs the help and gratefully accepts it. When I laid her down on the carpet one of these times she put her head down but kept her tail wagging in a grateful and sincere thank you.


  • No matter what the current situation is…unconditionally love ❤

Bubbles does not know that her days are numbered. She knows her body is different. She knows her surroundings have been limited. She understands pain more than she ever has. The desire to eat or play has diminished. She tolerates the meds through the day. She never snaps, growls, refuses to cooperate, or shows difficulty in behavior in any way, rather she expresses what she always has: an unconditional, unquestioning, puppy eyed love to all of us who are trying to make her last days as comfortable and full of compassion as we possibly can. We ache and we know, but she simply loves without hesitation and fear.


My hope is that the lessons she has been and is teaching me will remain with me for the rest of my days helping me to understand how to appreciate every day, and every person who loves me, and to love unequivocally and unconditionally no matter what the situation I find myself in. Until we part, I will enjoy my lessons that she is teaching me and the love she is sharing with me.

May we all be more like her and bring a bit of tail wagging, kisses, and unconditional love to each our homes no matter what the day and situation brings.

Wishing you peace,

Terri O’Neill-Borders


Hope and Friendship Foundation
721 Hickory St, Lemont, IL  60439

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Proverbs 31: 8-9