undeserving…

•March 1, 2011 • Leave a Comment

My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am. -Author Unknown

Tonight I realized more so than ever, how much I am blessed because tonight, I saw Doug.  As in really saw him for who he is and all he truly encompasses…

“Jane, he was sitting here for a long time just waiting for you,” my dad said to me on our walk back home from the train station.

My heart immediately flooded with emotion.  It was the first time in a long time my heart didn’t feel like stone or heavy with burden, a temporary lifting of spirits.

“He kept wagging his tail every time he saw people leaving the station, especially when it was a girl.  But then he just sat back down when it wasn’t you and waited for the next train.  A woman asked me why he was sitting on the corner.  I told her that he was waiting for his owner.”

“My Hachi,” I whispered with a smile.

The last few months, have been the most trying months in a very long time.  I’ve learned painful lessons, had many sleepless nights, shed one too many tears, and exercised until my body cried for mercy because I didn’t know how else to get rid of the anger, the pain, the frustration.  But even that was only a temporary fix before I woke up the next day feeling the same self-loathing emotions.  However, some mornings these negative thoughts would come back with a vengeance ten-fold.  Those were the mornings I found most difficult to wake up.  But thankfully, god always provided me with enough strength not only to wake up but to get through the day.

Tonight on our walk back home, I realized how special Doug truly is and how undeserving I am of his love.  It made me think, “What did I ever do to deserve you?” as my eyes filled with warm tears.  And that’s the beautiful thing about it.  I don’t deserve him, which makes him a gift.

There are so many wonderful things about Doug, or dogs in general.  But of course, please excuse and understand my bias.  Plenty of people have mocked my relationship with my dog saying it’s unhealthy and I need to have real relationships with people but until you yourself have a dog, you can never comprehend or embrace the friendship that organically becomes a bond so strong nothing but death can separate it.  And even then, the memories you build together are powerful enough to help you live vicariously through them for years on end.  Once a dog finds his way into your heart, you slowly change not because he makes you but because his good qualities rub off on you, making you want to be a better person.  Some say dogs are almost human but that is far from the truth.  That would be an insult to most dogs.  Agnes Sligh Turnbul once said, “Dogs’ lives are too short.  Their only fault, really.”   I couldn’t agree anymore.

I love him.  I love how the moment my alarm goes off and my bare feet hit the cold wooden floor, I’m not only greeted by goose bumps from the moment my skin comes in contact with the cold but I can always rely on seeing Doug’s smile and wagging tail, reassuring me that the day will go well.  I love him.  I love how he jumps up on me when I’m working feverishly, scattering my papers hither and thither just to remind me to take time to laugh and play, to find my inner Peter Pan. I love him.  I love how he chooses to lay next to my bed on the hardwood floor to keep me company instead of his cozy comforter because he can tell I’m going to need a friend within the next few minutes.   And most times, he is right because the floodgates come soon after.  How he can tell, I will never know.  But I do know I love him.   I love how even though I don’t give him all of my attention when it’s not convenient for me, he is always ready to give 100% to me any time.  I love him.  I love how after his morning walk he immediately sits by the foyer and watches me close the door behind me, reminding me once again that all will be well and that he will be at home awaiting my return.  I love him. And most importantly, I love the lessons he teaches me, lessons of hope.  His whole life is built on hope and the fruits of being hopeful whether it be for a yummy treat, a possible squirrel hunt, that I’ll be on the next train, or just for a great tomorrow.  He never stops hoping.  From the moment he was lost and found in Georgia and given a second chance at life in Brooklyn is a testimony of God’s sovereignty.  And I love how amidst his wild idiosyncracies, he is who he is and doesn’t need to find reasons to improve himself all the time.  Simply stated, he is content.  And he is way good at it.   I. love. him.   And thank you abba father for using Doug as an instrument to remind me what redeeming and comforting power only an ounce of your love possesses, let alone Your eternal love…

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love.  For me they are the role model for being alive.

-Gilda Radner

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the more i learn, the more i cry…

•February 7, 2009 • 1 Comment

It seems as if the older I get, the more confusing life becomes. I’ve finally started to dive underneath the tip of my iceberg. What did I unearth? A lot of untapped and buried emotions and issues. For starters, I finally realized one thing about myself. I am very much a loner. Even when I am surrounded by people, I feel very much alone. I’ve also come to understand that people are not easily trusted because they are too unpredictable. They come and go, come and go, come…and…go. As a result, I find a less desire or need to befriend anyone. That’s just a part of life that I need to accept but I do find it difficult.  In addition, I have absolutely no right to disrupt anyone’s progression in life so my thoughts are often silenced for fear of being labeled “selfish”. I also find that people, including me, are not good at listening. They are too busy to “fix” you or analyze you when all you want is someone to tell you that they understand and can relate. In lieu of that, you’re thrown back a label, an advice column or even worse, pity.

It hurts even more when all three of these “revelations” come together when I am feeling most down. I always feel like I have no one to talk to, at least no one I can trust. And when I do let my guard down a little and share a snippet, it’s not too long before I’m given a prescription of what I need. Either that or they just move on with their lives. So what do I do? I do what I do best. As long as the ocean depths allow, I swallow it, plant a smile, and move on…

alpha and omega…

•October 5, 2008 • 1 Comment

i find myself often consumed by too many thoughts and ideas. some are fears, other are dreams i find myself too scared to chase after, and others, are just part of my wild imagination. although i have a steady job and enjoy working with children, a part of me feels like i am supposed to be doing something else. it’s difficult to explain. sometimes i forget that God gives us dreams and He knows the desires our hearts. instead, i tend to believe that dreams come only from man and what we wish for won’t come true. i’m usually really optimistic for other people and their dreams but when it comes to my own, i quickly dismiss them. why? perhaps because it’s easier to not deal with them than to pursue something that will never come to pass. perhaps i am a late bloomer or going through some sort of quarter of a century life crisis?

in reflecting upon my last two dozen years on this earth, i find myself stagnant. yes, i am moving forward in certain aspects, but at the same time, i feel as if everyone around me is moving and i am just sitting back and watching. and in my ripe age of 25, i find myself not accomplishing much or not enough. i often find myself wondering what my purpose here is on Earth. although i am a teacher, i find myself wondering if i am ever doing a good job and if i am really becoming that change agent. i’m scared for our children and their future. the world is a lot grimmer and it can only get worse. how can i prepare and support them in negotiating their multiple worlds when i myself is struggling with that?

on a brighter note, since my colleague has introduced me, i have been listening to israel and new breed for awhile and one ritual we have is listening to it in the morning before class starts and one song that has blessed us continuously is the one below. simplistic in it’s form but so fulfilling and a constant reminder that God orders our steps because he is the beginning and the end and is worthy of our praise no matter what comes our way…

it’s growing pains…

•August 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I’m learning to realize that life doesn’t wait for anyone. It just happens. I used to think that the world was full of good but as I grow older, I’ve come to find out that is far from the truth. It’s hard to put faith in people nowadays. It’s hard to place faith in friendships, relationships, and sometimes, yes, even God. I look around and the world looks dimmer and dimmer and the candle that used to burn bright with hope is slowly fading, its glow getting weaker and weaker. Other than bidding my dog farewell this summer, I think I lost some friendships as well through distance and lots of time in between. I look around and I find that a lot has changed while I am standing still. Life doesn’t wait. It just happens. And boy, does it suck. It’s almost as if I’m forced to grow up and deal with life. But how can I deal with something that is so unremorseful?

I thought that I cherished friendships, but in the past I have been guilty of cherishing some more than others through my ignorance and naivety. However, now I know better. I’ve learned that it is through one’s actions that speak volumes. Not their words. This also makes me more mindful about my words and actions. I used to believe people’s words, but no more. This almost forces me to trust people a lot less than I even started with. I used to be called innocent and naïve for being too trustworthy, for seeing the silver lining in every rain cloud. And now? Well, now people call me bitter and cynical. I’m learning that I can’t please everyone. Maybe that is the problem and I need to stop caring what other people think, including myself.

Life doesn’t wait. People won’t wait. Just as life happens for you, life happens for them as well. People change, their priorities change and not everyone wants to do the same things they did when they were younger. That’s what I thought until today.  Today was nice. In an attempt to help my dad get out of the house and minimize the void left in our hearts from our dog’s death, I decided to take him out to watch a movie. As the day went on, God reminded me that there are still some people who haven’t changed and they still want to do the same things we used to, whether it be climbing the man-made mountains in Central Park or sitting on the floor of Barnes & Noble, perusing through some books. It was nice to know that although we go through changes individually and together, there are some things that remain the same no matter what. Thanks dad. Isn’t it funny how I try to make you feel better and at the end you’re the one making sure my candle doesn’t burn out…

lessons learned through my argos…

•July 20, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I was upset today when I saw her red collar, leash, and two nylon bones in a rubber basin being soaked and cleaned. Actually, I screamed. I thought I had hid them well enough. My parents tried to reason with me, that all her belongings needed to be cleaned, that I could keep them, but they needed to be sanitized. But all I knew was that those things used to carry her stench, the only thing that seemed to be alive, the only part of her that comforted me because in a way, I felt that if I could still smell her, she was still around. And now, I couldn’t even have that much. Today, I was home alone while the rest of my family went to celebrate all the July birthdays in our family. Perhaps it was rude of me not to go, but I felt that I had to grieve a little longer. While they were out, there were moments where I forgot that wyllo was no longer here with us. I also felt vulnerable without her physical presence. I am still tying to make sense of all of this. Still trying to calculate and understand how and why she died the way she did. And to be honest, my faith is being challenged as well. A part of me refuses to accept the answer that everyone is giving me, that God has a purpose behind all of this. It’s just not enough. I suppose that is what faith means. I also understand that I serve a God that gives and takes away but in the last few months, I feel like a lot has been taken away from me. The scary part of all of this is how accurate my inkling was. In the last two years, I had said goodbye to a few people dear to me because they had moved or were called to serve in other places. These last two years were brutal and I tried my best to be resilient. It was hard, especially with the last person that left who was my cousin. I was so angry and bitter at everyone and everything in my sight. I couldn’t even recognize myself anymore. In trying to make sense of the mad exodus, I remember asking my dad and brother, “Do you think God is preparing me to say goodbye to someone for real? Is that why so many people have left me?”

Mid June, wyllo wasn’t herself. Her mischievous self and happy go lucky spirit was replaced with a senile, tired, and worn spirit. We all thought it was temporary until we brought her to the vet. He told us a lot but only a few words were clear to me. I can still hear him telling us those few words, cataracts, arthritis, downhill from here. Each word felt like a sharp dagger inching its way towards my heart and slowly being wedged in. It also felt like reality. Our drive back home was a silent one. No one said anything but in all of our minds, the loudest and most crowded thoughts occupied our minds. When we got home, I asked God not to take wyllo from me and I begged and pleaded. The timing was just not right. God didn’t take wyllo away from me. But as the trips to the vet grew more frequent and each diagnosis less promising, I knew inside that it wasn’t going to be long before I had to say good bye. The thing that killed me the most was her optimistic and fighting spirit.

Amidst all of this, I was still learning to deal with my anger and trying to forgive my cousin who had left. I was also thinking about the value of friendship, trust and respect. I knew what I had to do, but my heart was hardened and I thought that being calloused was the right thing to do, just because everyone else seemed to have that attitude. Last week, I went to a church retreat and went there with the same mentality. I wasn’t going to give of myself anymore. However, the second day into the retreat I had asked God to soften my heart and change me. I left the retreat changed and renewed. I still held on to a little anger but hope also found its way into my heart as well.

This Tuesday, Wyllo had paid another visit to the vet because her entire front leg was swollen. She had an inflammation and the vet told us that at this point, we were “buying time.” At home, I told God once again, to not do this to me.

Later that night, God helped me let go and forgive my cousin, really forgive her. I no longer wanted to be angry at her for the way she left. Although she gave me a reason as to why she did what she did, I guess in circumstances like this, no answer is really good enough. However, God finally helped me let go. I told myself I would call her in time for her birthday and let her know how I felt and at the same time, tell her that I had forgiven her and would ask her to forgive me all the same. Before I went to bed that night, I shed some tears as I looked at wyllo and made her promise to not leave me yet. I also told her I loved her. As her fur dried my tears, it brought me back to the day I left for college and held her so close to me and just cried. A patch of her fur was soaked.

Wednesday morning as I was preparing to go to class, Dad told me that something was wrong with wyllo. She was foaming and coughing a lot. I thought it was something she had eaten and dismissed it after wiping her mouth clean. Afterwards, I left to go to school while my dad and wyllo went for a walk. That was the last I had seen her. A few hours later, I turned my phone back on and received a static voice mail from my father. It went something like this, “come home jane immediately…wyllo…dying” I listened to it over and over to make sure and returned the call a couple of times but got no answer so I called home. My brother, who had just gotten home, said no one was home and that wyllo must be at the vet since her leash was not by the door. As I ran home, my mind was racing. I got home and started pacing back and forth, back and forth, looking up, shaking my head, and saying, “God not now, no…not now”. Although it was only a few minutes, it felt like an eternity. I heard them. I looked from the window and saw my mom get out of the car followed by my dad. This was the turning point. If my dad would head towards the trunk, then I know wyllo won another fight but if he would start going up the stairs, then I knew the inevitable happened. My dad turned towards the trunk. Then he closed it. But all he had in his hands were her red collar and leash. My throat weighed a ton, my heart stopped beating, my blood became ice cold and the only words I could stammer out were, “WHERE”S WYLLO?” My mom said, “She didn’t make it.” I ran, ran as fast as I could to the bathroom and locked myself in there wailing. I was so angry. I even said some not so nice things to God. I couldn’t understand how a God who was supposed to know me better than me didn’t recognize I was a person who needed closure. I also didn’t understand why he took wyllo away the way he did, without any rhyme or reason. I didn’t understand how a God of perfect timing could do this in the most inopportune time. In addition, I didn’t understand why God didn’t allow me to say good bye to her. I didn’t know if I was angry with the fact that while she was in deep agony, fear, and pain, I was in some stupid grad class laughing with my friends or if I was angry that I hadn’t given her one last hug that day. I was so angry, I didn’t even want to let my dad explain to me what had happened.

After hours of crying, I remember the promise I made the night before about calling my cousin. At first, I wanted to postpone it but I knew I had to do what I committed to. All I knew was that I had to hang up afterwards because I didn’t want to bring any sad news up or burden her. We talked and loving words were exchanged. But soon, she knew something was wrong and it wasn’t long before she found out what had happened (thanks to facebook). That night, we shared together, laughed together, and shed tears together.

I miss her. We all do. I finally calmed down and heard about wyllo’s last day on this earth. it was horrid to say the least. I’m still trying to make sense of it all. And although I know that God understands what I am going through, I am debating that because in comparison to His son, wyllo is not going to resurrect in 3 days. In regards to God’s timing and reasoning, He revealed something to me yesterday as I was folding my laundry. I realized that wyllo left me after my relationship with my cousin was patched up. It was almost as if she knew that through that difficult and trying time, she would be there for me, that she would hold on longer just to be my company and companion, which makes me miss her even more. It’s almost like her telling me, “now that things are alright with you two again, I can go. I am sorry to break my promise with you, but it’s my time.” Gosh… I miss her so much. I feel so guilty, so apologetic that I couldn’t share that moment with her before she passed, that I couldn’t cradle her in my arms. I would almost do anything just to have that chance to look her in the eyes and tell her she’s a good dog, that she did well. However, as I continue pondering why I might not have had that chance, it might be because God and wyllo knew that I couldn’t handle such a traumatic experience. Reflecting back on it, I am glad my dad was able to share that experience with her because as much as I would like to believe that wyllo loved me the most, it was really my dad who she bonded with. Of all people, he deserved that moment with her.

The other day, I needed to get out of the house so I went to the city and ended up finding my way into a movie theatre. I decided to watch Wall-E. Prior to this, I never went to watch a movie by myself before but for some reason, thinking about Wyllo, made it seem like she was watching it with me. I sobbed throughout the entire movie, even though it had nothing to do with wyllo. everything reminded me of her. Going home, and accustomed to seeing wyllo on the porch, welcoming me with her silly smile. Not seeing her there brought me to tears again. I had to gain my composure so I ran into the driveway and sat down. For a moment I flashbacked to Wyllo’s hay days when we used to potty train her by the driveway. I finally gathered myself together and headed upstairs. It wasn’t long until I found myself sitting on my bed, crying again. This time, my Dad joined me. That very same night, Batman and Robin were on. I decided to watch it to keep my mind off things. It didn’t work. In this particular part the following dialogue took place:

Batgirl: Alfred’s sick.
Batman: Alfred’s not sick, he’s dying.
Robin: Dying? Why didn’t he tell us?
Batman: You know Alfred, he wouldn’t say anything, but I can tell.

It reminded me too much of wyllo. Alfred was diagnosed with the same disease as Mr. Freeze’s wife. However, at the end, he was given the cure. As illogical as it sounded, I was a little jealous that Alfred lived in a happily ever after storyline. I suppose that is what separates reality from fiction. It’s also what separates the old me from the new me. Of late, it seems like my optimistic spirit has been shot down and being reinforced with tastes of cynicism and reality. I guess these are all lessons learned.

It’s been three days and everywhere we look, there are remnants of her. I still hear her, or at least think I do. Today I stepped on a puddle of water and thought it was drool from her mouth after lapping her water. Even as I shower, I see her. It brings me back to the days I used to bathe her in the winter, the both of us would be crammed in there. When I close my eyes, I still hear her nails hitting the hardwood floors. When I walk into the kitchen to prepare a meal, I see her next to me waiting for a sampling. As I sit on my bed, I see her happy panting face staring back at me. And as I walk around my neighborhood, each tree, house front, block, carries memories of her. Traces of fur still lie everywhere and it’s so hard because she’s the only part missing in the equation. Her food and water bowl still sit there in the kitchen. The scratch marks on our front door are permanently etched with her signature. Her toys, worn and tattered, look freshly chewed. Her chain hangs on a doorknob and her unfinished bag of senior dog food still remains.

If I had one wish, I wish I could see wyllo in my dreams so I could tell her everything I feel. I’ve been doing a lot of things just to get closure and nothing is really working. I just wish I could see her one last time and let her know that she is a good dog, a good wyllo and the best teacher and daughter anyone can ever ask for. For even as she was slowly deteriorating, she always carried that silly smile around with her and no matter what, she was quick to forgive and slow to anger… and even in her death, she was selfless and faithful… she was my Argos.

this was wyllo’s favorite song

The stars smiled down on me, God answered in silent reverie…

•July 4, 2008 • 1 Comment

she was coming home from a long day. as busy as her schedule was and as many people she came in contact with that tuesday, they only served as distractions, distractions that would help her get through another day. looking around, she noticed a teenager with streams of tears rolling off her cheeks. both of her glistening eyes glanced upwards, trying to push her tears back in, but no, they continued to overflow. i wonder how long it took to accumulate all those tears. for a moment, time stood still. she barely knew this teenager and yet, she seemed to completely understand and empathize with her. she had been searching for this feeling of relatedness and reciprocity for the longest time. and she finally found it – getting off the Q train.