Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Newtown’

My Golden Retrievers, Melody and Rhythm, were also happy to see the last of the painter on Friday. Melody, my eight-year-old female, likes to spend the day sleeping in my bedroom. Rhythm, her seven-year-old brother, likes to sleep downstairs in my office. But the painting repairs disrupted their peaceful canine lives because on the days the downstairs was painted, Rhythm had to stay upstairs. And on the days the upstairs was painted, Melody had to be evacuated downstairs. And worse than that, they had to be child-gated into the kitchen for a few hours on the next to the last day because of all the coming and going. It wasn’t as bad as being whisked off to a strange hotel room for a weekend, but neither liked being denied his or her favorite sleeping spot even for a short time.

My dogs remind me of my children when they were small. They are comfortable within the confines of their routine, but they don’t like disruption. In Melody and Rhythm’s world, the food is supposed to be deposited in the bowl at approximately the same time every morning. Then as soon as Rhythm has finished inhaling his, he expects his daily medication. Immediately after that he is ready to go on his morning walk to see the ducks at the pond. Melody, who is notoriously lazy, has to be bribed to join us. After all the pond smells have been exhausted and after I have told Rhythm repeatedly not to eat pine cones, we come back home where they insist on one last treat before retiring to sleep off their breakfasts. I find the utter predictability of this routine day after day reassuring.

Goldens are amazingly sweet, loving, and patient animals. They make fabulous therapy dogs. During the tragedy at Newtown, I discovered the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dogs. They are Golden Retrievers trained to provide comfort and support; and they travel to disaster sites as well as to schools, hospitals, and hospices to offer love and comfort. They were the chief reason that some of the children were willing to return to school after the December 14 tragedy. Recently some of the Comfort Dogs headed out to Boston to comfort the Marathon bomb victims. Each Comfort Dog has a Facebook page, and they hand out their business cards to the people they comfort. One of the little Newtown survivors made a special box to keep all the dogs’ cards in and brought it to school to show the dogs her treasures. This morning the dogs and their handlers were given well-deserved special recognition and assistance on Good Morning America.

I adopted my first Golden from rescue after we babysat a friend’s Golden for a few days. Back then, the children and I lived in a house that had a small concrete slab for a back porch. Within an hour of our canine guest’s arrival, I found my then-three old sitting beside her on the slab, his arm around her neck, pouring out his heart to her as if she understood every word. And she sat and listened as if she, did, indeed, understand. Those were in the early black days of the divorce. and we all had heavy hearts and needed comforting. I called Golden Rescue that same afternoon and put us on the list for the first available retriever that needed a home.

A few months later, we adopted six-year-old Sasha, an adorable female Golden who lived to the ripe old age of fifteen. Really old for a retriever. She was so special it too two to fill her shoes: Melody and Rhythm.

Melody is stubborn, but doesn’t do much to get herself into trouble. She’s a small retriever and happy to do her dainty walk to the pond twice daily once she’s received a suitable bribe. Rhythm on the other hand, likes to live on the edge. He once got away from me and jumped into pond leash and all. And woe is me if he comes across a dead bunny. It is spring now, and bunnies are plentiful. They tend to become road kill or coyote kill. And sometimes bits and pieces get left behind. Rhythm has been known to go native on me and consume a whole bunny carcass while I watched in horror. All I can say is, dead bunny does things to a retriever’s digestive system you don’t want to know about.

My children and I have been blessed in many ways, not the least of which is the presence of our beautiful Goldens. Our personal Comfort Dogs.

Some of the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs in New York on their way to Boston

Some of the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs in New York on their way to Boston

Our Goldens, Melody and Rhythm

Our Goldens, Melody and Rhythm

The Pond - Our Daily Destination

The Pond – Our Daily Destination

Read Full Post »

I have been crying since mid-day on Friday. I came home after brunch with my oldest child, my lovely now grown-up daughter, to hear the horrible news from Newtown, Connecticut. For the rest of the day, I sat at my computer writing an opening brief in another heartbreaking case – a father’s trial for the abuse of his six-week-old baby – and I cried as I worked. It was all I could do.

I kept thinking of Jeremiah 31:15: “Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.” So I thought of Passover and, then, later of Herod’s massacre as he searched for the Christ child. Matthew 2:18, writing of Herod, parallels Jeremiah: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”
There is no grief deeper, I think, than the loss of a child. Jeremiah and Matthew capture that. A born Southerner turns to the King James Bible in times of great grief, even if he or she hasn’t been in a church for some time. It is our heritage and our culture. So the words haunted me.

As I worked and cried, I looked over at the Christmas tree in my living room. News like this never comes at an acceptable time. But it’s particularly hard at Christmas when children of six and seven still believe in Christmas Magic. When my own children were small, I taught Sunday School; and every Christmas, I taught them about the coming of the Christ Child and about the shepherds and the Magi, who traveled to witness the miracle of so much love entering our world. Children of six and seven can believe in the magic of Santa and the joy of Christ’s birth whole-heartedly in a way that we, as adults, can only marvel at. And bask in its glow.

The conundrum of human love is that it inevitably leads to loss. In what form, we cannot predict. But from the beginning of any loving relationship, we know there will be an inevitable end. Some people – and I have known my share of them – refuse to love so they cannot experience loss. To me that choice is the equivalent of refusing to live. For only by loving others can we be truly who we were born to be and be truly alive.

When my grandfather was 104 and still as sharp mentally as anyone could be, he said one day that he was not afraid of death. He said that to him, death was simply another part of life. I have lived from my beginning knowing that we are immortal spirits. I will not tell you how I know. That is too personal. But I know. And so I know that the twenty-six amazing souls from Newtown have been separated from us, but they have only been transformed, not lost. Still, the separation is a great grief. Yet as I watch and experience this profound sadness, I see how this unthinkable loss unites us, and I marvel at the strength and the good that comes from human beings in the face of great tragedy. The word that Emilie Parker’s father used in his moving speech about his lovely child is the touchstone for all of us: Compassion.

I cannot travel to Newtown and place flowers or candles or stuffed animals at the memorial. I cannot tell every parent how I how hold them in my heart, and the tears I have shed with them. But on Saturday, I did finally think of my own private way to create a memorial in to these amazing souls. And it goes like this:

I was buying food at Trader Joe’s. Our TJ’s is also next to a Chuckie Cheese, so on Saturdays the little food store is full of families who have completed the Chuckie Cheese adventure and are buying groceries before heading home. Tiny people are whizzing tiny shopping carts through a highly crowded environment and, at the same time, looking for the Trader Joe’s Monkey, hidden somewhere in the store. Finding the Monkey nets a child a sticker or sometimes a gold coin made of chocolate.

As I began trundling my own adult-sized shopping cart through the store, I dodged several pint-sized shoppers who were bent on finding the Monkey and definitely were not looking where they were going. And suddenly I realized that I was not all inconvenienced by having to look out for them. No, I was inspired by their joy and happiness, and by their confidence they would reap the prize at the end of the adventure. And I thought that if the new little angels from Newtown were powering those shopping carts, they would be excitedly on the same adventure. And I was happy at the thought.

If you let it, the joy and magic of being a child can still rub off on your adult self. My own personal memorial will be always to enjoy and give thanks when I am in the presence of the magic of children. I have to say, I have always believed in this. Kids and dogs come to me spontaneously – I guess because I never grew up. But I don’t say think you enough for being in the presence of so much joy. And from now on, I will. And I will remember Newtown and its children, whenever I do. Thank you for the magic of being a child and for letting those of us who have grown up be touched by your magic. We love you.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: