This is my first Christmas without Mia in over 15 years.

I still remember the first day I met her. She was the runt of a runt's litter, and she was feisty from the start. One of the first sounds I ever heard her make was hissing at me. I knew we were going to be just fine.

It's not that there's any special significance connecting Mia with Christmas. It's just, this is a time of year when we tend to reflect on things. We tend to look back and laugh about all the ridiculous we experienced over the year, and maybe mourn what's lost a little.

Losing Mia was kind of a blow for me this year, for sure. It was the mark of a few changes for me, too.

No, this is not the RV we'll live in full time. No. Seriously, no. 

No, this is not the RV we'll live in full time. No. Seriously, no. 

Kara and I just bought a small travel trailer. Not the one we'll live in full time*—but a smaller one we'll travel in while we continue to reduce our footprint in the world. It's a Phase 1 kind of thing. It's the first wobbly little step we're taking into this new RV lifestyle we're marching toward. 

So there's a connection here, between Mia dying and us deciding to sell the house and get into an RV. It wasn't a motivating factor, per se. But it was kind of a reminder. 

For fifteen years, Mia was this special little part of my life. I carried her with me to eight different homes. She was with me through at least three hurricanes. She was with me through a lot of breakups and relationships both good and bad. She was with me when I finally married the love of my life. And for fifteen years, she was one of the biggest considerations I had to keep in mind whenever I made any sort of life decision. 

We still have a cat. Chyna is this special little girl that drives us nuts sometimes. And she's still a major consideration as well. But the big realization, when Mia died, was something kind of profound:

Considerations aren't limitations. 

It's probably different for Kara. There are different mental circumstances that led to her deciding an RV life would be good for us. But for my own internalized story, the one that always included "What about Mia?" I can only say that losing her snapped me awake in some ways. It made me realize things that I technically already knew, but didn't know I knew. Ya know?

I could say that I realized "life is precious" and "life is short." And it's probably true that I thought of those old chestnuts, in some way. But the bigger realization was that I can't let the things I care about now dictate the life I live tomorrow. I have to consider them, I have to ask myself how I accommodate them. But sometimes, the answer to that question is, "You have to let them go."

This is my first Christmas without Mia in over 15 years. I feel that little twinge of sadness, loss, and grief. I miss her. But I think her last gift to me was a blessing and an encouragement. I think the best way to keep her with me as I go forward is to go forward.

So, even though Mia is gone, she's still a big part of the considerations I have. Now I consider her when I ask myself, "Am I living my life, when I do this?" And I'm pretty sure the answer, most of the time, should be "yes."


* Seriously, you post ONE photo of a travel trailer and everyone is freaked out and saying "THAT is what you're going to live in full time?!?"

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Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at


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