One of the things that surprised me on 9/11 was who I could count on. Living in the Midwest, I do not know anyone who was affected directly by this tragedy. I did, however, experience a personal loss on that day that unexpectedly put me in touch with my therapist, Joe.
As the networks displayed film clip after film clip of the two towers collapsing, many questions ran through my head. I was actually glad to out and work on the old tractor as it gave me a necessary distraction.
Our little dachshund, Fritter, loved his people and he was ecstatic that my son, James and I were outside with him, despite the fact that getting the tractor running was work to us. The hot afternoon sun warmed his slick, black coat, so unbeknownst to us, he found shade under the mower deck. With some frustrating tinkering and tuning, the confirming belch and rhythmic rumble told us it was time to start mowing.
James took the seat, engaged the mower and heard Fritter yelp. He punched the stop button and jumped from the tractor to help as I frantically rescued the little animal, heavy blades bumping against my foolish hand. .I sped Fritter to the vet, returning home with a poor prognosis and little hope. I could hardly wait to take the mowing over from James. Maybe, I thought to myself, the noisy tractor would help me digest the drama of the day.
Little did I know how important Joe’s expert therapy would be. On this day, Joe’s session with me was a lesson, Basset Hound style, in patience, devotion and appreciating what we have. On family walks, Joe is exercising his nose; baying and hunting in the trees and underbrush just close enough to know where we are. But on this day, he never left my side. As I mowed for the next hour or so, he ran non-stop alongside the tractor on the grass that I had just mown, his stout legs never failing him. His attention and look seemed to be ahead of his reliable paws, as if he was intent on running up and down this field until I was done.
In perfect hindsight, I would have made sure Fritter was secure in the house, away from the machinery, had I thought about him crawling under the mower deck. The vet called later, telling us what I couldn’t communicate to Joe, that his little buddy Fritter was gone. Joe decided that we should not be apart and stayed close to me that evening for reasons only he knew, something I didn’t realize I needed or could count on so much on such a day. Just as New Yorkers learned from whom they could lean on and whom they needed to help, Joe and I discovered that day how much we needed each other.
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