I thought of the parents who had lost the 145, some of them have lost one pup, others have lost three, and there were those who lost two, sometimes within a few days of one another.
When the clanging concluded I was left with one emotion: Hope.
I have experienced the pain each parent felt as their dog passed over the Bridge. It is a shattering hurt. I didn’t think any human could persevere through it. They had the same doubts. But they kept moving forward, proving that they are stronger than hell, because they trekked through the very depths and came out the other side.
And that what gives me hope.
Because after such unbearable suffering these people step up and open their home to another dog desperately waiting for a family. They know, from the dog’s first step in their house, that they will be crushed again, but they still give the pup a perfect life until that day comes.
That is one of the bravest acts people will undertake during their lives.
Of course, from the time between the dog’s first step to the final heartbeat, there is going to be joy 99% of the time. Having a dog in your house is like living on stage at a Springsteen concert: Happy, sad, exciting, challenging, optimism and joy. (You can insert your own artist here, but the Monster has always been a Springsteen dog.)
After the bell stops ringing, I looked into the water and saw Aunt Kristi, who lost Chelsea and Junior within the same year, happily playing with Noelle. She smiled during her time between dogs, but not like she is smiling now. There is a smile known as a dog smile, and Aunt Kristi is proudly sporting hers.
I also see Aunt Kim playing with Charlotte. She was in the depths of hell when she lost Hannah Banana this year, but she stood in the fire, and she outlasted it, and her home is filled with love again.
They still miss Hannah, Chelsea, and Junior. You can’t look at the Freedom Tower without remembering the World Trade Center, and you can’t see a dog and not see all the dogs that came before. There is still the pain. But there is happiness with the pain. Both of these dogs were rescues, in need of loving homes, and the great things about rescues is they are the ones who do the rescuing.
When I think of the 145, I think about how many of their parents have provided homes for new dogs, and put their hearts on the line again, and have days of hell in the distant future. I know when they prove they are tougher than hell they will get on the roller coaster called pet ownership again and it will be a ride well worth taking.
Endings are sad, but beginning as happy, and I do advise all the humans currently in hell too, when you are ready, find a beginning.
I know, in 2018, the number 145 will grow. And I know that somewhere there is a homeless dog, hoping for a home, or an unborn puppy, with its life before it, praying it will be filled with love, who will be the beginning that comes after my friends ending.
Whatever the year brings I know humans will survive.
They really are the toughest animals of all.