Just a Dog

“Just a dog” is going in for surgery today.

We are all pretty upset about it. You might ask why? Why with all the people lost are we so sad about the possibility of losing just a dog? Let me tell you.

Just a dog was new the family when Kevin died. He joined us in June, we lost Kev in October.

I am having such a hard time because just a dog was there for me during those dark days. There were certainly people who were there, but just a dog offered something people couldn’t. His love was unconditional. He didn’t want or need anything from me. He just wanted me to feel better. I never had to worry about what he was thinking or feeling. I didn’t scare him, he never turned away.

All just a dog wanted was food in his bowl, to be let outside a couple of times a day and a walk each evening. The truth is those walks were probably a lot more important and necessary for me than for him. I did a lot of thinking when it was just him and me, through Snow and cold, spring and summer and back to fall.

This all happened really fast. Just a dog was fine when I took him for a walk Friday, running his leash out and plowing along nose down the way Beagles do. We drove up to North Conway on Saturday and he was fine, his head out the window about half the time as we meandered north. He was lethargic on Saturday night, like he had eaten something that didn’t agree with him. He seemed to be laboring with the stairs on Sunday, and when we came home Sunday night and I took him for his walk he stayed right at my side, which was really unusual.

Monday morning he was stumbling when he went outside so we took him to the Vet in the morning. He has a mass on one of his kidneys which needs to be dealt with immediately or we will lose one more. Last night he just lay on a blanket, licking us from time to time, still trying to make us feel better.

I am so tired of losing people and things that I love.

So Kev, I have a favor to ask. Arrange for Buddy to stay with a little longer if he can recover and enjoy life. If that’s not possible, keep him with you for a while. Bark with him when you come in, take him for walks and let him run along the beach. He loves to hike, you can take him off the leash and he’ll stay with you if you let him know where to go.  Thanks Bud.

And Thanks Buddy

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Happy 25th Birthday

So many changes, yet so much remains the same.

I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately, or I guess I should say even more than usual. It’s been a really crazy, eventful year, and at each milestone I keep looking around, hoping to see you.

We did the fundraiser back in March. It was really successful and a real tribute to you. Hundreds of people came out and almost all of them were there for you. They spent the night telling stories and remembering and toasting and just trying to share some love to honor you. It was humbling to see so many people you so touched in one place.

After that we went into senior graduation mode. There was finishing up classes, the last day of school, the Prom, Senior Week, all leading up to graduation. I was a lot more emotional that day than I thought I would be. I kept thinking back to 2008, and noticing the missing piece of our family. I did get a little angry with you that day I confess. You should have been there.

Then it was getting ready for college, Kata graduating from middle school and preparing to go to DHS (is she still 6 years old to you?). She is a freshman now; keep an eye on her OK. I took her to the Soccer game last night at the stadium. She sat with the rest of the students and cheered and chanted, like old times. Were you looking down on us?

We dropped Drew off at college a few weeks ago. I kept thinking how much you would have loved Burlington, well, maybe not in the winter, but when it’s warmer out for sure.

I have wanted to write for a while. With work on top of everything else I haven’t been able to find time to think, let alone to compose. I will be traveling tomorrow; we are heading up to Burlington so we can all go out for your birthday dinner, so I doubt I will be able to take care of this tomorrow or Monday. Better a day or two early than a day late, right.

I guess the truth is it’s getting to be that time of year again. When the weather cools and the days shorten I start to have those feelings. I suspect that’s never going to change. I just have to get used to it.

Everyone misses you, and no one can ever forget. See you “someday”.

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Something is Wrong

When a community comes together to hold a candlelight vigil something really bad has happened.

I attended one last night.

It was organized by the National Honor Society from our local high school.  These kids should be planning for the State Tournament playoffs in Soccer and Football, working on their college applications and figuring out who they want to go to the prom with.  Instead they were organizing a memorial to a slain teacher, a teacher who was murdered in a second floor bathroom at their school, by a fellow student.

It’s hard not to feel like this world is spinning out of control.  Every person I cross paths with has a theory as to why.  Every person believes their magic bullet will make the world a better place.  No one has a clue.

I sure as hell don’t know what it is.

I just know that I can turn on the news any day of any week and somewhere there is a tragedy.

The difference this time is I was watching them interview kids I’ve known since they were in grade school on the TV news.  The difference this time is the daughter of one of my wife’s closest friends has lost a close friend, who was a teacher at the high school in my town… in Kev’s town.

So this is my version of a prayer, I don’t know if it helps, but I know it won’t hurt.

Kev, a friend of Sarah’s was killed sometime Tuesday afternoon at the new High School, reach out to her and help her adjust to her new existence.  If anyone can provide comfort and support to her family and friends let it be offered and accepted.  No one can go through this without help.  If anyone has time to help heal this community, our community, the one you loved, that loved you in return, send them our way.

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Day 1,096

Somehow we’ve all managed to get out of bed over a thousand times since. 

Drew graduates this spring, and heads off to college in less than a year.  Kata will be starting High School; I know you must be checking in on them, I hope you can continue to keep them safe.

I’ll be looking for you today.  In the clouds, when the birds fly overhead, in the shadows on the sides of the mountains, I’ll be watching for your sign.  I’ll be listening for your voice in the breeze and in the music of the water.  I’ll be waiting for your touch when the sun is on my back.  Quiet is always better than noise for days like this.

Three years is both forever and a moment.  When you were growing up sometimes it seemed I’d turn around for a second and you’d be in the next grade the when I caught your eye again.  Yet the years pass much slower now.  I think I want it that way.  I don’t want to miss anything in the rush of everyday life.

I still think about someday, when I will be walking along a perfect beach at sunset and you’ll be waiting by a fire.  There is still much for me to do here so there’s no rush, but it is a pleasant thought.

Until then, spare us all a moment when you can, keep us in your heart as we keep you in ours. 

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A Magic Moment

Today is Kevin’s 24th Birthday.

One of our little family traditions is that every year on each child’s birthday, they get to pick a restaurant and we go out to dinner.

Since we lost Kev, we pick a restaurant for him and go out as a family.

Tonight we went out to Fire and Ice in Cambridge.  Kev had talked about going there with his friends, I don’t know if he ever made it, but he’d been planning on it.  For those of you who haven’t been, it’s a concept restaurant where you pick food from a “market” along with spices and sauces and then it is cooked on an open flattop.  It was pretty good.  Drew and I seemed to have a knack for it (It’s all in the spice and sauce combo).

There was another “birthday” party in the restaurant and they brought out a cake and candles and sang happy birthday.

Right at that moment I focused in on the music playing and turned to Lisa.

“Do you hear the song?”

Do You Remember by Jay Sean was just starting to play on the loop.

I think Kev appreciated our choice this year.

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Happy Birthday to Me

Age is just a number they say, yet as I grow older I can’t help but look back when the number changes.

I celebrated a birthday last week, one year shy of “The Big One” and I’ve been thinking about my life since then.

I feel OK about who I am.  I’m far from perfect, there is always room for improvement but on balance I don’t think I’m a bad guy.  “Treat everyone the way you want to be treated”, not “get ‘em before they get you”.  I’ve tried to live that way; it makes it easier to be with me.  Maybe from time to time someone takes advantage of that, but at the end of the day I live with me, not them.

I still get sad these days.  In some ways I miss Kev more now than ever.  The despair has morphed into regret, not regret for what wasn’t said or done, but regret for what can never be.  It’s not that searing pain anymore, just a sense of loss that never goes away.  I miss his smile and sense of humor, I miss his company.  I regret his lost potential, not in the “greatness” sense, but in the “goodness” sense.  He might never have been rich or famous, but he would have been well loved wherever he went.

I guess the lesson I’ve learned with time is that’s what is really important.  I’ll leave fame and fortune for others.  I just hope to be well loved.

My father learned this lesson and taught me, I hope I was able to teach Kev in turn.  Maybe last week, wherever they are, they raised a glass, I raise it back.  I’m looking forward to seeing you two again.  The Lynnwood and cold ones are on me.

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This Week in Boston

It’s been a long week.  Like everyone in the Greater Boston Area I’ve been obsessed with the attack on the Boston Marathon and the aftermath.

It was heartbreaking to see the carnage on Monday.  My heart aches especially for those families who lost loved ones.  I truly know how they feel.  I hope they will each find some way to go on.  It will be a struggle, long after the news cameras and the well wishes have gone.

But at the same time I was inspired by the bravery and decency all the professionals and all of the civilians on the scene.  It was humbling; it’s easy to lose faith in humanity when an act of barbarity is committed for whatever reason.  But that one heinous act was more than offset by innumerable acts of decency and bravery.  Inhumanity didn’t win, even in those first moments, those forces can’t win, and I really believe that.

I used to get angry about these things.  I understand the rage, but I don’t feel it anymore.  I feel sad mostly, for the effected families obviously, but also for all of us.  I don’t know the answer to all this but all week I’ve have the same quote rolling around in my head.  “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”  I hope some day we as a species can figure this out.

Seeing the non-stop media coverage from places I’m really familiar with has been surreal.  Copley and Cambridge especially, it’s just too damn close to home I guess.

I glad they caught this kid, I’m glad he’s alive too.  I want to know what makes a seemingly “normal” young man decide to kill and maim innocent people.  Perhaps a lesson can be learned that will make a difference down the road.

Finally, a thumbs up to the people in Watertown who applauded the police officers as they drove off from the scene of the apprehension.  These were people who had just spent close to a full day on the front lines, having their lives thrown into chaos while living with justifiable fear of a violent criminal at large in their midst.  It was a classy move.

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