Posted on October 22, 2011
It is becoming a regular occurrence these days for me to quote the words of Bruce Springsteen when writing a new article for my blog… Either as the post’s title (like today), or within the actual body of the text itself – or both. I find that in incorporating Springsteen’s words into my posts, not only am I adding a real touch of beauty to them, but I am also providing myself with inspiration, and core concepts around which to write. I also quote Springsteen so much because, as I have mentioned before, I absolutely adore his music. The 62 year old poet from New Jersey remains the most important person in my life, in providing me with the spiritual guidance necessary for me to navigate myself through the storms which come my way. Springsteen is also one of the key sources of beauty in my life, as I talked about in my last post.
As ever, he came to my aid today. This afternoon something bad happened – thankfully it has now been resolved. For some time today I was in a great amount of emotional pain; scared, frightened, and distraught. However, the end result of this experience is wholly positive, as I learned a few things about myself today which I can add to the list of things which is ever more profoundly defining my transition from being a “young” man to actually being a “real” man.
My beloved dog, Maisie, went missing today.
Before I go any further, I should explain something… I love Maisie as if she were a 2nd sister. Many people find this kind of devotion to what is essentially “just an animal” (in their eyes I hasten to add) very difficult to understand, but if you’re like me – blessed enough to not only understand the old phrase, coined by Ogden Nash, “The dog is a man’s best friend”, but feel it as truth - then you will know exactly how such love is not only completely understandable, but fundamental in a relationship with man’s best friend.
Things with Maisie go a little further too. I have referred a few times now within the context of my blog, to my Dad, and the fact that he died when I was 13… This is, amongst other things, defining in my very being. I wouldn’t imagine it is very difficult for anyone to understand why that is, as just about every person alive will understand just how extraordinarily vital your relationship with your Father (and with your Mother) is in shaping you as a person. Whether for good reasons, or for bad reasons, our parents play a huge role in shaping us into the people we will eventually die as. Even people who never knew their parents will still, in some way at least, be influenced by them.
Where does Maisie tie in with this?
On Thursday the 14th of February 2008 I woke up to discover my Dad dead, lying outside my bedroom door. He had passed away during the night, and despite the efforts of my Mum and I administering CPR to him, and 40 mins of attention from Paramedics using their defibrillator, my Dad wasn’t able to be resuscitated. In the moment I discovered his body I knew instantly that he was gone, for anyone who has experienced the hell which this is, you will know what I mean. For those of you who have never experienced this, be grateful, and pray that it will never happen to you.
I was alone when I found him… That was with the exception of Maisie.
The moment she heard me finding my Dad she was instantly at my side, in the few moments before even my Mother or Sister knew. Maisie lay next to him, peacefully, and observed me experience the trauma of staring death right in the eyes. Maisie looked at me more intensely and more wisely than any person ever has done since then. She knew what was going on, equally she knew that her just being there helped me more than I will ever be able to describe. In singularly the most profound and scary moment of my life, Maisie was by my side.
This experience has created, between Maisie and I, a relationship which is just living proof that Ogden Nash’s belief that the dog is a man’s best friend was nothing less than totally true.
With that in mind, I come back to today. This afternoon Maisie went missing. She went missing in as much as that due to a breakdown in communication between various family members, I was under the impression that she was left somewhere – but I didn’t know where – alone. It transpired that she was at my Grandmother’s safe and sound, whilst she and my Sister had gone shopping, and my Mother wasn’t around. However, I was told by my Mother that Maisie was with my Grandmother, when I phoned my Grandmother they said Maisie was with my Mother. What neither had realised was that Maisie was in fact at my Grandmother’s house waiting to be picked up, sadly that information didn’t get back to me. Alas, my belief was that she was missing.
What did I learn about myself? Well, in genuinely believing that Maisie was gone, I cried – for the first time in a long time. I also pleaded with God, as it struck me just how hugely important Maisie was to me, and that actually what I had been paying attention to – Schoolwork – was bullshit in comparison with how I feel about her. In both crying and praying I learned that despite what I believed to be true, I still had the capacity to cry, which in itself is a very intense thing to realise. I also learned that I still believe in God, as with nobody else to turn to, I reached out to him. Does Maisie’s safety prove that God exists? I don’t know. Does it prove that I still have faith? I think it might.
Feeling the pain of potentially having to face the loss of Maisie, I also became victim to an overwhelming sense of loss regarding my Father, which has taught me something else – I really must come to terms with losing my Dad. Since my Dad died my family has had a whole range of problems, which I have tried my utmost to guide my family through, to the detriment of my physical and emotional health. (Not something I resent, as where family is concerned, you don’t stop at anything to make sure they are okay). In the process I have come to know people who have been dedicated to helping me overcome both my personal adversity, and my family’s suffering, whilst also trying to help me deal with the issues which still come my way. I think it is about time that I came clean with them that I still need to get to the point where I can say “Bye, Dad”, and feel it to be true.
Life is an amazing experience, people say that it’s too short, yet it is the longest thing we will ever do. That is another reason why it is so important to make our time on this earth count. Life also works in very mysterious ways. Due to a simple breakdown of communication today, I believed that my beloved little Maisie was missing… This experience, which lasted all but an hour before I was told she was fine, taught me that not only do I really love Maisie, but also that I can still cry, that God is still in my life, that I still really miss my Dad despite the “face” I put on, and that also I should remain true to myself, no matter what life might throw my way.
Keep fighting the fight, and all will be okay.