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In Memory of Raven’s Human Dad

September 12, 2006


There are moments in life when we simply don’t know what to say. This is one of those moments for me. I’ve had a very up day so far and have not had the impact of 9/11 hit me the way it has the last several years. My family and I were living in Boston at the time, and I hardly knew what to think when the phone call came that the planes were crashing and people were dying by the thousands.

Today, I pulled up dogster.com and was excited to see that the “dog of the day” is from very near my hometown, a small logging and dairy town in the lost Redwood coast of California.

“Look at that!” I thought to myself as I noticed a picture of a man with his beautiful dog. Women dominate the site, so seeing a man’s photo is rare. Curious bird that I am, I scrolled down and saw one of the pictures titled, “Last picture I have of me and my daddy.”

What? Why? I scrolled down a bit more, and this is what I read:

Raven, your daddy loved you more than anything. You and Rich were totally bonded. You went to work with your daddy every day, and if daddy had to leave you at home for any reason, you would wait by the door until he came home. Even if daddy had to go on a trip, you would leave the door only to drink water, eat (very little), and go potty. Then you would return right to the door.

I met you when I met your daddy. We all instantly became a pack of 4. I knew that I was in love with your daddy at the end of our very first date, because as he drove away, he was snuggling and kissing and talking to you. We had clicked nicely during our date, but seeing how completely he loved you made me love him too.

Sadly, Rich was cruelly taken from our pack in the 9/11 attacks. You know he was a hero among the 40 passengers and crew who fought the terrorists on United Flight 93 that crashed in Shanksville, PA. Our pack woke up that morning so excited that daddy was coming home, but our whole world shattered when we found out that daddy’s plane had crashed. You spent 2 solid weeks waiting at the door for your daddy to come for you.

Knowing that you now depended on me to be your pack leader and to love you like daddy loved you is what kept me going. If I wanted you to be able to heal and move forward, I needed to heal myself too. If I wanted you to start eating and stop waiting for what wasn’t going to happen, I had to do the same.

Being devoted to honoring Rich’s memory through taking care of you is what made it possible for me to take care of myself. Raven, you are my protector, my companion, and my life-saver.

Mommy loves you sun and moon and stars!

It was written on June 24th of this year.

I didn’t think today would get to me. I didn’t personally lose anyone in the attacks. My pain has mirrored the pain of the nation, and I have hurt for those who lost anyone they loved.

Reading this entry brought 9/11 home to me once again.

Several years ago, I left a horrible message on the answering machine of a woman who lost her husband, who worked in one of the towers. In so many jumbled words, I wanted to express to her my sorrow. To somehow let her know that I cared that her life had just been completely turned upside-down and sideways. To help her feel less alone.

I don’t know that I was adequately able to convey my heart in that message. And I don’t know how many people who still suffer the pain of losing someone (whether in 9/11 or otherwise) might be reading this today.

I wish there were words that I could hand-pick for a day like this. There are none. Perhaps that’s the point. Sometimes there simply are no words.

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