This I Believe

Evan - Ashland, Oregon
Entered on March 31, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

STRANGER THINGS HAVE HAPPENED.

When I came home Friday night, Brie met me at the door. She had a tennis ball in her mouth and her tail was wagging furiously. Daddy’s home! She licked my face, I rubbed her belly, and then I cried.

Brie is an 11 year old golden retriever and as I looked at her graying face, I thought about how different it would be to come home without that bundle of energy impatiently waiting for me. We both needed a walk, so I grabbed her tennis ball and we headed for an empty field.

As I watched her chase down a long, hard toss, I thought about all of the other things that I take for granted every day. All of the friends I love and rarely tell them, the dreams put off until some rainy tomorrow. Life is so precious. But it is so easy to squander little moments that soon become hours, weeks, months and years. I remember when I was five; my first summer vacation lasted forever. Now summers come and go like the phases of the moon, some full, others half empty, all too fast.

Then I thought about my mother. When she died at fifty-two, she was a vibrant, generous woman. I remember thinking then: Life is so unfair. Why take her? Why so young? She was a bright flame snuffed out in the prime of her fire. I gave up trying to answer these questions a long time ago. In the twenty plus years since my mother’s death, I have learned that life can be unfair, but it is mine to live. If I forget to fill each minute of every day with all that I am and can be, I have only myself to blame. My mother died much too young, but she never forgot to fill the lives of her family and friends with the kindness in her heart.

Suddenly, Brie nudged me back to reality, impatient to keep playing. The tennis ball hit my foot with a thud. She looked up at me with that intense stare peculiar to dogs and wise men. Then she said, “Hey Dad, don’t look so serious. No one’s here forever. Just make each minute count and hope you get a few more to enjoy”. I looked at her in disbelief. “When did you get so smart”, I said out loud.

Perhaps she just cocked her head to get a better look at the ball in my hand, but I swear she smiled and winked at me. I believe that golden retrievers are wise men in dog suits. Stranger things have happened.