Today begins a new era in my home. It's the first day without Dunkin. Yesterday, Gwen and I took our 4yr. old yellow Labrador retriever, Dunkin, to the vet and put him to sleep. He had fought cancer for a couple of months. He was very uncomfortable and we knew we were making the right, but extremely difficult, decision. Words cannot express the loss of our friend and companion. Dunkin was the sort of dog about whom they coined the phrase, "man's best friend." He gave and gave and never complained. Really. Not even a whimper. The hard thing about opening your heart and caring is that sometimes you get hurt. There's been a lot of crying around our home.
Dunkin was really Gwen's dog. She has thanked me several times for being there for her during Dunkin's illness and when we put him to sleep. It hasn't always been so. Gwen is a very strong person. Physically, emotionally and spiritually. This has been a double-edged sword for her. Because she is so strong there have been many times where I've held back. Held back from caring. Held back from helping. Held back from "being there" for her, because I knew she could handle things on her own. In a way, I encouraged her strength and independence all the way to where she found that she really didn't need me for anything anymore. I worked and she took care of literally everything else. It shames me to tell you that she even painted the trim on our house all by herself because I wouldn't get involved. One day I bought her a paint brush and gave it to her to help in her efforts. Gwen has faced all sorts of grueling or gruesome or daunting circumstances without me because I was too cowardly or wimpy to "be there" for her. I wouldn't risk getting hurt or putting myself out too much. After all, she's strong. She can handle it. That's the "helpmate" she's supposed to be right?
Thankfully, I don't think that way anymore. Gwen is still strong. But, now she inspires me to be stronger. Now I am willing to take on the grueling or gruesome tasks, the daunting circumstances and risk being hurt by caring. Not perfectly, but the mindset is there. So, instead of Gwen taking Dunkin to be put to sleep alone or with a friend, I went with her. Because I love her. Because I loved Dunkin. We risked opening our hearts to him and we got hurt. We cried alot. But, it was worth it. I hope I can be (and I'm working towards being) the sort of person that Gwen needs and can count on. One who will give and give and never complain. Not even a whimper. I want to be that woman's best friend. Because I love her. God help me.
"Love...does not seek its own...bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails..."
The Apostle Paul to the Corinthians.