It’s been about 4 weeks. 4 weeks since he died. 4 weeks since my life changed. I tried to prepare for it. I’d already gotten replacement units. I actually was prepared for it. I was prepared for Tank to die. After all dogs die. Everything dies. But this is not about everything. It probably isn’t even about Tank… It is probably about me.
I started sleeping on, by, around, and next to Tank around 2004. He wasn’t even my dog yet… He was soft, and smelled like a hound, and funny and comfortable and caring. He was not a therapy dog, but he would become my therapy dog.
What I have learned?
I don’t mean to be self depricating…. but I truly am a mess. I have been a fairly miserable partner in most of my relationships. I start strong, but finish flat. Nearly every meaningful “in love” with a woman type relationship has ended poorly. I have some long time friendships and am grateful for them. I did not get married until I was 54. I was a widower by age 59. My second marriage lasted only 10 months. I really thought when I was growing up that I would make a spectacular partner. That was not, and is not the case.
I have spent the last decade, since Michelle’s death, researching and revisiting old relationships. I have been motivated to ask for forgiveness. Some of the relationships are from the 60’s. Half a century of knowing I needed to apologize for being an ass. Almost no one who reads this will understand. Well maybe there will be a few accidental visitors. I know who you are. I think I have found all of you. All but Katy. I so wish I could find you. By the way, marriage number 2 was to a woman who was among the long ago relationships which was rekindled on Facebook. I was certain it would be a storybook ending. All it had was an ending.
So why all these relationship ramblings?
My life is filled with regrets. I don’t believe people that say they have a life with no regrets. That makes no sense to me. How can a person not regret hurting someone, or disappointing a partner, or betraying a confidant? Seriously, NO Regrets. Then I don’t believe you. I am thankful for the path my life has taken. I have learned from my bad decisions… at least from some of them. I have a better life because I have had regrets. I don’t live in regret, I live in victory over the bad decisions. But a bad decision…. is still a bad decision. I have grown….but I regret that I hurt someone else on my blessed journey. A journey in which things “fit into a pattern for good.” But not all things are good.
What is the purpose?
For me, there is purpose in the midst of this journey. Well I was raised in the Presbyterian Church, and for all their shortcomings….. and mine. I learned this in my middle school years at Colonial Presbyterian Church in Kansas City, Mo. Thank you Rev. Ted Nissen. The first question in the Shorter Westminster Catachism. Most of you will not know this question. But if you Google “what is the chief end of man?” You will learn what I “know.” This line is from Wikipedia…. “The most famous of the questions (known to a great many Presbyterian children) is the first: Q. What is the chief end of man? A.Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
And through this sieve is poured the results of my decisions. If I understand who God is then this is a glorious time in my life. Every day is glorious. At least when I recognize my purpose.
What does it have to do with me now?
Well my today is a sum total of my decisions yesterday. Life experience is a mathematical equation of sorts. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division. A series of events that create form and substance. Very rarely is my string of life events just a march in forward progress. The graph of life is a reality. The ups, the downs, “the two steps forward and……….!” See you could finish that phrase without me. Because your life is a graph also. You also have taken “one step back.”
What does this have to do with my dog Tank?
Tank was a forward march dog. He never complained. He was half hound… so he could be a bit hornery if I decided to leave the dog park before he wanted to go. And in his early days if I let him off leash in an unfenced area, he might disappear for up to 90 minutes (but obviously he always came back). And there were occasions that he was not allowed to sleep in a stranger’s house and hence we did not share a bed. But mostly Tank was just a kind, loving, lean in to a new human, hump a new pooch, tolerate a puppy, train a foster, love me without condition, snuggle with me at night kind of dog. We could just sit quietly for hours. In his younger days he would chase a ball for hours… always to bring it back to my hand. He was a good boy. He was what I want to be. A caring loving, move forward kind of friend and companion.
Tank was a dog without regrets, or so it seemed. He glorified life and those around him. Yes I am biased. But those who were blessed to know him, know he was unique among the dog world. He was just one of those dogs. If you needed a hug, he would just give you a hug. He did however hope you would scratch his butt or his ears.
And now he is gone. No new pictures. No more kisses. No visits to the dog park. No sharing my bed. I had no idea just how critical Tank was to my well being. I know now.
For since he left
My nights are