Too Damn Quiet

I miss my fuzzy little shadow.

Yesterday I had to make my first drive up to North Conway since Buddy had to be put down. It’s really noticeable up here that he’s not with me. A month ago he’d have come along because he loved it up here. I can’t remember the last time I drove up without him.

We had a little ritual on the ride. He’d figure out where we were headed about ½ an hour into the ride and settle down, but once we turned onto West Side Road I’d pop open the window so he could get a good sniff and he’d wag his tail and smile (because beagles can do that) all the way to the house.

So instead of my dog lying at the other end of the sofa I am all alone and it’s too quiet.

No one greets me when I come home, no barking when someone knocks on the door, no one to take for a walk every night.

I was glad to have the last few months, we knew the cancer was doing to come back, so we had time to take him up here as much as possible, we took some good hikes, we went to run on the beach, we called it Buddy’s bucket list. Beagles are a tough ass little dog, so he’s been almost puppy like since he recovered from surgery, the crash was fast, as we knew it would be, but he was a happy dog right up to the last couple of days,

I read a couple of books during this 4 month hiatus, A Dogs Purpose and A Dogs Journey by W. Bruce Cameron. The 2 books are the story of a dog that is reincarnated several times and his intertwining lives with his special people. When I was 5 years old my older brother took me to a pet store and sat me down with a litter of puppies. The one who licked my face the most was the one we took home. She was a Beagle/Collie mix and we had her until I was in college. While I was reading these books I’d glance and Buddy and see the same eyes as Bitsy (she was little and I was 5, what can I say).

So maybe Buddy will be back someday, or maybe he’s at the Rainbow Bridge waiting for Lisa. I prefer to think of him hanging out with Kev, visiting with Petey and Butch, My Mom and Dad and Kathy, and they are all feeding him people food and he can wonder around and accompany them on their adventures.

So now my future vision has changed a little, when Someday comes and I am walking along the perfect beach at sunset with my Father, Kevin will be waiting by the fire, but Buddy will be with him and will be bounding across the sand to welcome me.

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Five Year Letter

October 13, 2015

Dear Kev;

I’ve been thinking for a while about what I wanted to convey on this day, something profound, or important I guess. The truth is this is the one day I just allow myself to just miss you. That’s all. The rest of the year I try to find my way. I try to approach each problem head on. I never ask “why me?” I just accept and attack the problem.

That’s really one of the gifts I guess. My self pity is gone. I have come to believe, very strongly, that we are here to learn and we learn by facing up to problems and overcoming them. They will never be gone, if I solve one, another will take its place, it may be bigger, or smaller. There may be ten problems today instead of the one from yesterday. It does no good to whine about it. Dig in and deal.

I have come to appreciate things more. Beauty, joy, even sadness. It is all part of this life, and this life has purpose. I get that now. When the sun is going down and the light is that sharp ethereal thing that makes even the mundane clear and perfectly defined, that is a moment to be appreciated. The mountains, the oceans, good times with loved ones, those are all gifts and I accept them with gratitude now.

I am more in touch with myself. I think about how I am feeling more than I ever did before. I still struggle sometime with the whys of things, if I am feeling down and depressed, it’s always difficult to know what the root issue is. On the flip side when things are good and I’m feeling right with the world I let myself enjoy those days. I have overcome the fear of “what can go wrong”.

I can still get aggravated with people, particularly when I perceive someone as being selfish. I am sure I can do a better job of being empathetic, but at the some time some folks are really self-centered and I have difficulty with that. I don’t think it’s my role to be taken advantage of. There is a balancing act here. One can give, but if there is nothing coming back you can be used up, and that’s not a healthy place to be.

For the first time since we lost you I have been really focusing on my physical health recently. It’s amazing, but for the first time ever I’ve found that I am enjoying exercising for its own sake. Working out is making me feel good, the health effect, losing weight, getting stronger etc, is secondary. I do my crunches down stairs with my legs up on one of the blue chairs that used to be at Nana and Bubba’s house. There is a collage of you and a bunch of different friends and I look at it for inspiration. Keep sending me the good vibes, maybe I can get some abs, but that’s going to take a while.

I’m really proud of your brother and sister. Drew is really doing well at school, showing some real maturity and initiative. I think he’s going to do well. Kata can drive me nuts in ways that only a 15 year old girl can do, but she’s focused on the right things, and compared to many, she is really pretty easy. It hit me this week how much she is like you. She worries and fusses over how her friends are doing just the way you always did, she’s always trying to fix and save everyone. I wonder where you guys get that from? J

I still think about you all the time. I wonder what you might be doing if things had worked out differently, I think about how much I’d like to tell you something. I still miss the silly stuff. I loved how you made us laugh; I love how everyone was always happy to see you.

I think you’re doing important things. I think you’ll tell us all about your adventures when the time comes. I can wait, because I know when the time comes we will have nothing but time.

It looks like Buddy will be coming to see you soon. He’s been doing great since his surgery but the cancer had spread, so sooner or later he’ll get sick again. We are all going to miss him a ton, but I trust you’ll take care of him until we meet again.

On balance it’s been a good year, and I am grateful. If you’ve been helping, thanks, if that’s not how it works, thanks anyway. We’ve all learned a lot from you Kev and none of the people you touched will ever forget.

Lot’s of Love,


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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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