Old Dogs and Dads

My saddest day up to this point in life is

the day my dad died. I’ll never recover.

People have told me to hang on, that the

pain eases with time. Here, almost a year

from that day, the sorrow is deeper, trickier.

I sense a lot of people spin flowery webs

out of their asses trying to gain a purchase

on death. It’s okay, I get it, I do that too.

My second saddest is when my wife and our

youngest daughter and I sat on the cold vet’s

floor while our beloved Jack stretched out

his rickety Beagle legs as the pentobarbital

seized his heart and he died. No recovery from

that one either, pal. Another open wound.

When I was a boy, I learned from Star Trek

that space is the final frontier. But now as

a man I don’t believe that any longer. Death is.

What’s next after the chests of our fathers

and our dogs and our own for that matter have

risen and fallen for the final time? People say

heaven, and I still believe but I’m no longer

longing for golden streets in a jeweled city.

My hope rests in a place where old dogs and

dads run like pups and boys, a land deep-meadowed

(as Arthur answered slowly from the barge)

where I will heal me of these grievous wounds.

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  1. Heather Kopp on January 15, 2022 at 9:59 am

    John, I often read your words but don’t often comment. Just want to tell you how powerfully this spoke to me and how much I resonate. Thanks for letting honest words flow.

  2. Susan on January 15, 2022 at 10:07 am

    A simple, burling echoing, yes

  3. Sallie on January 15, 2022 at 10:18 am

    Tears are my comment . . . ?

  4. Tawnya on January 15, 2022 at 10:20 am

    Tears flowing! ??

  5. Michelle on January 15, 2022 at 10:25 am

    Beautiful. My tears flow for your losses and for all of ours. Yes, heaven will be a place of vigor and youth and reuniting. ♥️

  6. Doug Mitchell on January 15, 2022 at 10:29 am

    The wound from watching my best friend on that vets floor, head in my lap, sorrow in his eyes…that wound some say will close with time and the pace of modern life, splits open and bleeds a little more every time I walk in the woods, light a fire in the fireplace, or pour a bourbon at the end of a day. I sometimes long for the sound of that tail thumping on the wall, waiting as I come into the room.
    I think that is the sound at those gates to that city.

  7. Robyn on January 15, 2022 at 10:42 am

    “My hope rests in a place …” yes, oh yes. Sending virtual hugs, Friend. These words are medicine.

  8. Angela Garrett on January 15, 2022 at 10:59 am

    Understand- my Mama died 6-29-20 and still miss her daily. My 18 year old dog died last week. Big love leaves big holes in the heart.

  9. La Vonne on January 15, 2022 at 11:15 am


  10. Duncan on January 15, 2022 at 11:17 am

    Thank you for deep-meadowed, John.

  11. Daniel on January 15, 2022 at 11:20 am

    Ah, good stuff.

  12. judy burke on January 15, 2022 at 11:53 am

    John, and family this touches the heart so – – Willie’s song state there is no way around it you can only go through it and 14 years later I am still going through it trusting that I will be back together again in Paradise and this day to day of longing will only be a forgotten memory. Oh the pain our Father’s heart must have suffered with Jesus on the cross. God bless all and prayers this time of suffering mental and health wise be over soon.

  13. Dianne Couts on January 15, 2022 at 12:43 pm

    Sir Mallory had a lofty king to lament, but devastation and loss are, nevertheless, the same.

  14. Mary Kathryn Tyson Desjardins on January 15, 2022 at 12:47 pm

    I’ve been through both & totally agree. During my time as a hospital chaplain, my theology on death & dying & heaven also…died. Or changed. On any of these matters, especially dads & dogs, I won’t go back to another way of being in the world. I’m sorry you & your family had to go through both, too, John.

  15. Michael J Graves on January 15, 2022 at 1:34 pm

    Corinthians mentions the last thing to conquer is death. Bro Blase was with us when dad and mom died. Will forever miss him. Friend of sinners, like me.

  16. Marilyn Yocum on January 15, 2022 at 1:43 pm

    Yes indeed.

  17. Marsha Hall on January 15, 2022 at 3:12 pm

    John tears flow from my eyes now. Reading this post, I totally agree with you! I have experienced both of what you mentioned. Death IS! It will always be sad for me until I enter into heaven and see my dogs and my loved ones. Thank you for this message.

  18. Melodie on January 15, 2022 at 5:47 pm

    Of course these are sad, sad days. And I envy you that you had a father like the man you describe. I envy that the death of a good man and a good dog are you saddest dates. I’d trade places with you in a heartbeat.

  19. Sophie Cospain Davidson on January 15, 2022 at 10:42 pm

    I am deeply touched by your poems. I relate. I lost both my parents and my dog is my amazing totem. I hear you. I feel you. Thanks for your beautiful expression of these mysteries and hard feelings and situations we face in life and death. With love and blessings

    • Dianne Couts on January 16, 2022 at 5:56 am

      I’m sorry that your days have known deep sorrow.

  20. Kay Hanevik on January 16, 2022 at 8:41 am

    So sorry John.. Your heart is so full of pain there must not be room for many blessings or maybe your Imp is keeping you from seeing them.

  21. Gwen Acres on January 16, 2022 at 9:00 am

    Yes and Yes again…

  22. Christy Berghoef on January 16, 2022 at 10:40 am

    This is really beautiful. When I was a kid I was given two ends to the story. It would either be hellfire or streets of gold, crystal mansions and mandatory daily singing in the choir. Neither option sounded very good to me. At one point I was so overwhelmed with grief about these two eternal possibilities, I begged God to just please release me in a world of grass, forests, rivers and lakes when that day came. And to please let my family and friends step away from all the gold and crystal so they could enter my green space for visits and decide if they wanted to live there too. ?

    Today… well, so much of my thinking has shifted, and I mostly just want to make that old vision and dream of eternity a thing of reality in this world.

  23. Kathy Spence on January 17, 2022 at 6:50 am

    John, I hear the longing and the love in your words.
    I can so relate! Thank you, friend!

  24. Judy on January 23, 2022 at 6:15 pm

    right with you. time does NOT soften it at all

    • Kay Hanevik on January 29, 2022 at 10:16 am

      You have touched my heart many times John. It is so hard to loose a parent and now a faithful friend like Jack. It is OK to mourn the loss, but it sounds like you are giving away each day you have to remembering what was and forgetting what is, and the hope for what will be. You are precious to this world and to those who hear your struggle.

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