Excerpts

Wister

“The other night I had dinner with a friend,” I tell my sister. “We were talking about what I’m going through right now and he mentioned that one of his most painful memories is also one of his fondest.”

“‘How could that be?’ I asked him.

‘Well, my dog, Wister, died recently. He was my best friend for 17 years. Not only did we share years of camping and hiking adventures together, he was a full-fledged member of my company, which I started in my garage at home.

"Wister was also a constant loving presence for my two daughters. Before putting the girls to bed each night, the three of us would put him to bed first. They would ask him how his day was, and Wister, in the voice of their dad, would regale them with stories of his adventures. Then Wister would read them their chosen bedtime story until they drifted off.

‘So it was a sad day when the time came to put him to sleep. He was very old and very sick. He could hardly hear and was almost blind—all he could do was lie there. I called the vet and told him the time had come and we were bringing Wister over. With heavy hearts, one of my employees, who also dearly loved the dog, helped me load the old guy into our van.

‘On the way we passed a Wendy’s, which in happier days was one of Wister’s favorite stops. I doubled around and went into the drive-thru where I ordered Wister’s all time favorite—a burger with bacon and cheese. I broke it up into bite sized pieces, held it to his nose and watched in amazement as all of the sudden Wister became six months old again. He opened his mouth and scarfed it all down, every last piece.

‘We turned the van around and drove through again, broke up the next burger with bacon and cheese into little pieces, and again Wister rose to the occasion and swallowed every last morsel. We laughed so hard, tears rolled down our cheeks. It’s one of my fondest memories.’”

My sister is silent on the other end of the phone.

“So, if I’ve been living in fear of pain all this time,” I continue, “and I’ve been closed off to feeling it, maybe I’ve been missing out on the full experience of life, including some of the best things.”

 
Wister