She makes it look so easy.
My teenager, still a boy-man, does not believe in showing weakness. I completely understand this; at his age, weakness can be received by peers with scorching disdain.
But our “rescue” dog is aptly named. We call her a rescue because we thought we saved her from the pound. Turns out, she rescued us. In a world that does not always understand or welcome tenderness—inaptly naming it weakness—Bailey is the antidote. She came to us just days after my divorce was finalized, anxious and distrusting. And frankly, so was I at the time. We’ve healed each other. And now she is healing my boys, bit by bit.
Her easy manner with my eldest is what will see him through his father’s second—and possibly last—bout with cancer. My son does not want me to talk about prognosis, treatments, stages. But I see the tears in his eyes as he watches his father go from wheelchair to hospital bed. They belie his macho exterior. He stoically says nothing of import about the elephant in the room sporting a capital C. Instead, he talks of lacrosse games, the NCAA tournament, dessert after dinner—pacing as he talks.
It must be hard, I think to myself as I watch them together in the hospital room. It must take great energy to keep the fear behind the wall he has put up in his heart.
This thought stays with me as we drive home from the hospital. He is quiet, serious, a bit impatient.
But when we open the door, Bailey awaits. Her joy is palpable, replete with a tail wag so effusive her entire body wags with it.
He hunkers down on the sofa, Bailey curled up next to him. Her wet nose nuzzles him as her sloppy kisses land on his mouth, hands and feet. He buries his face in her fur. Amazingly, they sleep almost instantly.
My youngest, given to bursts of sadness or anger at a moment’s notice since the diagnosis, seeks our furry girl out frequently. In the morning, I awake to find he has crawled into my bed and fallen back asleep—with Bailey in the middle of the two of us. Her paws drape over his form protectively, as her nose nuzzles his back.
She asks for nothing. She does not want to talk about, analyze or advise on anything. And perhaps this is part of her magic with our boys. She looks at them with a devotion akin to worship. She gets them out of bed on Saturday mornings and sits watch on the stairs until they’re safely back in those beds Saturday evenings.
Without a word, she rescues my boys from something none of us can keep from happening. As fear drills another hole into their hearts, she fills it with a love that demands nothing in return.
I think, for her, it really is that easy. And for them it’s a godsend.