Dogs. We’ve always had them in the house when I was growing up. They’re family. A lot of them even got old and had died on me. Good times, they were though. But that was up until I got too busy with hanging out with my college friends. Got too cool for my poodle, if you will. Times changed and so did I. And ever since, the dogs and I have drifted from each other for good.
Fast forward over two decades later…
Sometime last year, on a Saturday morning, I woke up and suddenly found myself driving to the animal shelter, determined no matter what, to take home with me a long lost friend. Walking in, the shelter felt like a foreign place. It’s been so long. Or could I have been the foreigner, perhaps? There was this air of joy in there. Like Disneyland or something. Families were excited about deciding who the new member of their household would be. I must’ve spent all afternoon walking several dogs myself trying to feel them out – who’s gonna want to be my buddy; who’s gonna want to be loved and not just taken out of their cages so they can get loose and bark at everyone. I remember having passed Molly up a few times to take the other dogs for a walk only to get frustrated with their rowdy behavior. Finally, one of the girls working there must’ve felt me and took Molly out and handed me her leash. Here, she’s the one you’re looking for. From the minute she stepped out of her cage, I had a feeling that she would make the grade.
Of course, she did. And happy times abound.
Fast forward again… half a year later.
Just like any newfound relationship, happy moments could sometimes be just an instant gratification meant to wake you up to the truth about yourself in the end. Unfortunate but true. I found myself not knowing how to deal with a pet that’s gotten so needy and so… attached to me. Literally! Molly would not eat if I wasn’t sitting right next to her bowl. She would follow me wherever I go and sit there where I was until I went somewhere else. And there she would be too. She would be a wreck (and so would the house) when I leave her at home to go to work, or anywhere at all. I mean I would love to cater to her needs every minute of the day but I’ve got a life too, I thought! After months and months of emotional fatigue, I realized I haven’t gotten young enough in my heart again to really know how to handle relationships. I have been too old in my heart for so long. Well, in this particular respect, anyway.
When you’re a kid, there’s always that sense of responsibility for the littlest things. Oh, I gotta feed the dog! Time stops for that! When you’re older, you find bigger fish to fry and the little stuff get left in the back burner. And when it’s finally their turn, you almost don’t even want to deal with it. As if they’re simply too insignificant to bother with. A waste of time, you thought.
So anyhow, as you might have already figured out… yes, the relationship could not go on, and so goes the drive back to the shelter. Indeed, this story is sad… as I was, and still is, sad to this day. As if another dog had died on me again. Only this time, I killed it.
And so goes my life as well, as another relationship drifts away.
I sometimes blame myself for biting off more than what I could chew. I mean, have you ever felt wanting to be someone’s personal Superman? A knight in shining armor of some sort? I really just want to give. It’s that simple! I think, giving is what life’s all about. But sometimes, it becomes apparent that I get asked for more than what I’m able to give at the moment. This makes me think… I really don’t have that much to give, after all. I am truly saddened by that. I wish I had more. I wish I’m stronger physically, emotionally and spiritually. I wish I could go back to church and serve in the ministry I’m needed in. I wish I could have more tolerance to grant my wife’s every whim. I wish I had the patience and emotional strength to be the dad that I need to be for Sam. I wish I’m more urgent about being in touch with my family and friends, whom I know have all been missing me. I wish I could show more gratitude through action more than in words to the people who have been there for me during the toughest of times. I wish…
I wish I could’ve been there for Molly. You should’ve seen her when I handed back the leash over to the girl working at the shelter. “She’ll be alright,” she said.
Or will she? And me? Will I be alright as well?
Sometimes I feel like going back there just to see how she’s doing. Or better yet, to not see her there at all knowing that another family’s already adopted her. But then I ask myself… would that really be the right thing to do? Or am I just being led by my emotions? Would that help bring closure and healing, or will it just keep the wounds open longer for both sides?
I do know the answer, but I’m still torn. I’m afraid I will be torn forever. And I’m not just talking about Molly here. This is the painful truth about letting go of the ones you love.