Ask ten strangers on the street what it means to live a rich life, and you’ll probably get ten different answers. Some might say a rich life means having a life of luxury… yachts, fancy cars, diamonds the size of Kim Kardashian’s ass, and trips to Paris on a moment’s notice.

Others might say a rich life is having their dream job.

Ask a mother who has cancer, she’ll probably tell you that living a rich life is having her family close to her… or simply more time.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what my version of a rich life is. The scenery in my thoughts may change occasionally, but the story is almost always the same: to be with the man I love, living life on our terms, without having to worry about money. Simple as that.

My Version of a Rich Life

Two weeks ago, I couldn’t tell you how much money it would take for me to feel like I’m living a rich life, but I learned last week that it’s a lot less than what I would have thought when I found myself crying in the waiting room at the emergency animal clinic.

You see, the Jet-pack (my dog) and I had taken off on a road trip of sorts. My favorite Uncle passed away on Easter Sunday, and my Aunt needed to make a trip from their home in Destin, Florida, back to Arkansas where they had once lived and where he was to be honored in a private military ceremony.

She was going to be gone for about a week, and I offered to watch her dogs for her at her house so she didn’t have to bear the expense of boarding them or having to ask a friend to watch them.

Destin is about a 9 hour drive from where we currently are in Fort Lauderdale, and Jet and I arrived to my Aunt’s house on a Sunday afternoon. After long, tearful hugs, we unloaded the car and brought Jet inside to meet her dogs, two German Shepherds. Nikki is the mother and is 12 years old, and the poor girl has arthritis pretty bad. Maddie is Nikki’s daughter and is around 8 or 9.

The dogs got along well, and after some initial butt-sniffing, they all relaxed. Nikki was too old to care much, and Maddie was more curious but I don’t think she much liked how much attention Jet’s nose was paying to her butt.

My Aunt left a couple of days later for her trip to Arkansas, and my routine with the dogs started to take shape. The four of us made quite a pack when we’d go for walks together and it was made all the more interesting because we all moved at completely different paces. Nikki had to take it slow, while Jet was practically dragging us all because when he goes for a walk, he’s full speed ahead. After a while though, he slowed down, and I’d even catch him stopping and turning, waiting for Nikki to catch up.

They didn’t always get along perfectly though. One morning, Jet scared the local feral cat away and Maddie, who had taken a liking to the cat, didn’t like the fact that Jet ran off her friend. From that point forward, if Jet came in the room, Maddie promptly left the room.

Jet is so easily adaptable… almost too easily adaptable, because it only takes him about an hour to make himself right at home. He’s so used to traveling on the boat that he just becomes very comfortable very quickly. He promptly made the office, where I spent my time working all week, his room, too. When Nikki wanted to come in, he’d let her, but he wasn’t crazy about sharing “his” space, and I think he was a little jealous of the extra attention I was giving the old girl.

Well, after 9 days of being there, and getting along mostly wonderfully, we came back from a walk, when suddenly Nikki and Jet got into it. There was about 2 seconds of what I thought was just growling and barking when I yelled and clapped my hands, and it was over as fast as it began.

Then I saw Jet shaking and lifting his paw and I knew something was wrong. I leaned down, looked at the leg he was holding up and nothing was broken, and there wasn’t any blood, so I assumed maybe he just got scared. Nikki was a lot bigger than him and maybe she just gave him a good dose of stay-the-fuck-away.

Then I saw a little scratch on his muzzle and realized that must be why he was so shaken. I went to wipe the tiny bit of blood that was seeping when the cut opened up and I could see that it was well down to the bone. I’m not one to panic or get squeamish, but at that moment, I felt sick.

I rushed to find my phone so I could call a vet. It was after 6pm, so I knew I’d have to find an after-hours clinic. I called around and the closest one was about 20 minutes away. Ok, let’s go. Wait — let me check Nikki to make sure she doesn’t need to go as well. I looked her over quickly, but thoroughly, and luckily not a scratch, so off we went.

I knew Jet was in pain, so I just talked to him the whole way to the vet. When we got inside, he perked up a bit because everyone was giving him attention. The vet checked him out briefly and told me they would need to make sure his sinuses hadn’t been punctured, and then he left the room and that’s when they sent someone in to tell me what would need to be done… and what it would cost.

I told them, “I don’t care… just take care of him.”

They showed me a breakdown of the minimum costs, and the maximum in the event his sinuses had been compromised, and gave me various treatment scenarios.

Again, I said, “I don’t care… just take care of him. Do whatever you need to do.”

Then they took my sweet baby away to prepare for surgery. I heard him yelp once when they gave him his sedation shot (apparently it burns), and that’s when I began to cry.

I cried for him, of course, because I cannot stand to see him in pain.

But I also cried out of relief, because at that moment, for the first time it hit me that I was living a rich life.

I had a man back at the boat who loved me, a dog who would be battle scarred, but would otherwise be ok*, and while not a whole lot of money in the bank, enough that it didn’t matter what that emergency vet bill was going to come to. I would have gladly spent every dime I had that night if needed to because no matter what, I knew I could make more. It’s just money, after all. 

And that, to me, is a very rich life.

What’s your version of a rich life? Leave it in the comments. Don’t be shy… no one’s judging you if you admit that you want a megayacht with a helicopter landing pad. Ok, maybe I will judge, but I promise to do it quietly… as long as you promise to invite me over for cocktails. 😉

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