Matt's Journal, December 19th, 2001

Today is my first attempt at a journal. In the the long run I hope to write nearly everyday, but knowing myself I doubt it...Treat

10 years ago my mom died, 5 months ago my dad died, 4 months ago some well intentioned maniacs drove planes into the World Trade Center, two weeks ago my dog Danny and I were hit by a car in a crosswalk, a week ago I put Danny to sleep.

I miss my mom, I miss my dad, I miss our innocence, but most of all now I miss Danny.

Dan was a special dog. Yeah I know everyone says that, but Danny really was special. Trying to explain it in words is bound to fail because you really had to be in his presence to know it. He just had this way about him, an innocence, a warmth. He, well, smiled.

He and I were infinitely compatible. Yes, that sounds a bit extreme, but it was true to me. I wouldn't have changed a thing about him. I really wouldn't have. We both liked long walks (hey, he was a dog right?), we both loved the woods, we both liked sitting outside in the snow doing nothing but watch the stars. That was my favorite part, the time alone together outside. He would sit with his head up, ears alert, protecting me from the world while I would rest my head on his belly and scratch his chest. Any attempt to get up would yield a firm but loving paw on the arm, literally holding you down. Don't go dad.

Dan smelled like comfort. That dusty, dirty fur that on another dog would annoy me was a happy nest. Place your face by it and it would take you back to a childlike world where kittens roam and stuffed animals fill your bed. Soft, happy, safe. Face buried in fur, another world, one without jobs, mortgages, death. Scratching his stomach, both giving without having to give. It was solace, it was sanctuary. It was its own form of love.

CollarIt's gone now. He's gone now. I have a child coming, a child that has largely to thank a dog. Dan tought me what unconditional love was, without it I could not have thought of having a child. He tought me love could be firm, even strict and still be love. He tought me responsibility. But most of all he tought me comfort. It's not a thing that you'd think you could learn or would have to, but he did and I did.

I know it sounds kind of silly, but I have this dream - as I leave this world and enter the next I see this dog running over the crest of a hill coming toward me. As he gets closer and the scene gets clearer I see it's a big shaggy Bernese, my Dan, come to greet me, smiling as he always did.

That would be my idea of heaven.

© Matt Fahrner, 2001. All rights reserved.