Today marks the 48th anniversary of my birth. To celebrate these years on the planet, I plan to post 48 personal essays here, one every Monday. Why?
A few years ago, my best friend died.
The first time it happened, I was 4 and he was my brother John.
The second time, I was 44 and he was my dog Emmett.
Both young males, both had cancer, both loved me unconditionally and unceasingly.
The second loss brought up the first one in extraordinarily painful, but ultimately healing, ways.
Flash back to New Year’s Eve 2007
I am in an examining room, with the door closed.
Veterinary staff are trying to resuscitate Emmett, on a table in another room. I can hear them, but I can’t see them.
I am on my knees, praying.
Love pours through me and out the closed door toward him.
It’s huge, this love, and effortless.
My friend Dinah arrives and I grab her hand, hard.
The vet comes in, says, “We’ve been working on him for half an hour.”
I understand this to mean that he has left his body for good.
I follow her out the door. Turns out, he’s been facing me the entire time. We’ve been facing each other, through the closed door.
As soon as I see him, I know he’s gone. I nod to the vet tech and she stops CPR. She’s crying, too.
I pet his gorgeous black malamute fur, his huge plumy tail.
“Thank you,” I tell him. “I love you. I’m sorry.”
Over and over:
I love you.
These are crucial phrases. They can get you a long way in various situations. Perhaps we should memorize them in a few different languages:
Gracias. Te amo. Lo siento.
Merci. Je t’aime. Je suis désolé.
Grazie. Ti amo. Mi dispiace.
Danke. Ich liebe dich. Es tut mir leid.
Sting sings, “Love is a big fat river in flood.”
My heart broke open that day. When I focused all my loving on Emmett, wringing every ounce from every cell of my body, I unknowingly let the big fat river of love break its banks and forge a wide-ass channel. I can’t even see the other shore. Could be an ocean, for all I know.
With Emmett as my focus — my Buddha, my Jesus — I discovered that I am swimming in love. We all are.
Emmett’s secret name was joy.
I finally realized that mine is, too.
Thanks for reading.