The Man and his Dog

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

The man with the old chocolate lab never walks around our neighborhood anymore.


I was driving home from Urgent Care, the lump in my throat making it very clear that it wasn’t allergies, but in fact, strep. I was shaking from being so terribly cold, and snow had just begun to fall. I turned the bend on my road and suddenly remembered the man and his dog. The chocolate lab had white all around its mouth, its paws, its chest. The man walked as slow as the dog, every day, no matter the weather. They would stop by different houses and chat with the neighbors. Once, the man bought lemonade from us when we set up a stand in the summer time. I never asked his name. Or the dog’s name. I’d see him in rain, in snow, under the blistering hot sun. They always looked happy together. Like there was nothing else in this world that man had to do, than walk his dog.


I haven’t seen them for months. My eyes began to burn as I put together what happened. The dog must have died. So the man, he doesn’t walk anymore.


I pass the house with Milo in the front yard. Milo, a long haired German Shepherd, absolutely stunning as he sits and guards the yard. I can’t help myself, whenever I drive by I roll my window down and quickly talk to him in my dog voice, watch him flop his ears back and forth as he turns his head to my high pitched sounds. Somehow, I love Milo. Maybe it’s because his owner, a forty something year old man who works with his hands, had to move back in with parents, in a small house on the corner of our street. He went through a divorce, and settled back into the only place we can sometimes- his childhood home. With him came a wild little puppy, Milo. I ached as I drove by them, how life, no matter how well we plan for it, can really toss us around sometimes.


Lately, this is all I can think about. My brothers came home from California this past weekend. Two incredibly short days to go to appointments with my mom, regarding my father’s illness. They were helpful and present and filled the house up. We’ve never been good at talking to each other. We aren’t the kind to sit around the dinner table and tell stories, or talk about the layers of who we are. If you think I don’t like touch, you haven’t met my brothers. It’s taken a long time, but I’ve come to accept this about us. I now soak up the similarities between Chris and I, how we both feel the same way about the same things. We watched two movies, and he devoured the book that I just finished reading and couldn’t stop raving about- Beartown. We sat and drank coffee and talked about what comes next, for all of us.


When you have a sick parent, that line between your life and their life becomes very blurry. Our parents raise us to go off and live our own full and spectacular lives. But when they need us, how much do we owe? When do we give up on our dreams and desires to serve them? There isn’t an answer that’s right or wrong, just relative to each family, I guess. As Chris tosses about what is next for his family in California, I know my time in my home has come to an end. Levi is too loud. He is too alive. Which I’ll never stifle, or apologize for. He is a physical representation of joy. But for my father, when he needs quiet and calm, Levi can be a lot.


So I sit and I throw my hands up at the Lord. I call Megan day after day and angrily growl out to God, with her between us, why haven’t You done something? Anything! I finally find a job I’m good at, a job that actually serves people and brings goodness. A job in a school that lets me be present to Levi as well, but it’s not enough. I’m being pushed over the edge of a cliff, needing to move, produce more money somehow, and there simply is no net. First Levi is sick, then I’m sick, and suddenly all my sick days are eaten up, and I’m left with another day ticking by without pay.


See the pattern? I complain day after day. I keep asking God, why? Why, when I’m trying my best to serve You, to do what You desire, do you not come down and open doors. I pray more, I fast more, I gave up distractions and social media to be more present to You, but, I feel the cold wind of rejection from You.


I interviewed for a DRE position to work alongside my school job, and they told me I was perfect for the job. A man in the group had gone to Haiti, and very soon into the interview it all clicked for him. “Oh! I know your husband then!” I shifted in my seat, not wanting to have this come up right away, and explained, unashamed, that I am a Catholic woman striving for holiness who loves Christ and his Church, and is also a single mother. The air shifted in the room. They liked me, but.


I often want to scream out. I will never apologize for Levi. Instead, let me tell you about the mercy of God. How it is equal to His majesty.


Anyway.


As I reflected on the man and his dog, his faithfulness in walking day after day, and all the times I keep crying out to the Lord, I felt it. That wisdom, that nudge, the revelation. Oh. I spoke it out loud. I laughed in my car, then grabbed my throat in pain. I’ve been flailing about, haven’t I? I haven’t actually trusted at all. I keep whining and yelling and fighting, like a child in the throes of a tantrum, and He’s just shushing me, telling me to be quiet, to be calm. But I haven’t been able to listen, I’ve been too loud.


I cried and laughed as I pulled into my driveway. The thrill in jumping off that cliff, or, well, being pushed, is that we can’t see the net. Leap, and the net will appear.


Be quiet, and you’ll see Him.


“The Lord Himself will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14.


These past few months as I’ve tried to do it all, I haven’t stopped to actually let God help me. I’ve been too angry, too distracted, too busy trying to figure it all out. It’s amazing this amnesia that we as humans have. I’ve been here before. I’ve tumbled off the cliff, been hit by a train, failed and failed again, and He always is there. Day after day, any weather, walking with me. Thankfully, we have a Father who isn’t afraid of a child’s tantrum. Who doesn’t turn his back when I call Him names. Just waits. Always waits.


So, let’s jump.



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