My Charlie

Tragedy struck me recently. My dog of ten years died of cancer. I had to bring her to the vet and have them put her to sleep, as she was no longer eating, and what little she ate she would regurgitate late at night. She was beginning to suffer, and I could not bear to watch one of the most beautiful animals I have ever met, suffer in any way.

I walked home from the vet that night, crying my eyes out in a way I never have before. I walked by people, who probably thought I was crazy, but cared not. I had lost something very dear to me, and nothing else in the world mattered.

From the moment the decision was made, the story below ran through my head. I do not know who the author is, nor do I care. I only care that the story exemplifies my experience with my dog, My Charlie.

On that day, and many since, the spot in my heart that held the piece of Charlie’s has lamented the loss. I know in time, the lament will fade and I will look fondly on the memories. For now though, my heart aches, and I long to see my Charlie one more time.

One day a young man was standing in the middle of the town proclaiming that he had the most beautiful heart in the whole valley. A large crowd gathered and they all admired his heart for it was perfect. There was not a mark or a flaw in it. Yes, they all agreed it truly was the most beautiful heart they had ever seen. The young man was very proud and boasted more loudly about his beautiful heart.

Suddenly, an old man appeared at the front of the crowd and said, “Why your heart is not nearly as beautiful as mine.”

The crowd and the young man looked at the old man’s heart. It was beating strongly, but full of scars, it had places where pieces had been removed and other pieces put in, but they didn’t fit quite right and there were several jagged edges. In fact, in some places there were deep gouges where whole pieces were missing.

The people stared — how can he say his heart is more beautiful, they thought? The young man looked at the old man’s heart and saw its state and laughed.

“You must be joking,” he said. “Compare your heart with mine, mine is perfect and yours is a mess of scars and tears.”

“Yes,” said the old man, “Yours is perfect looking but I would never trade with you. You see, every scar represents a person to whom I have given my love – I tear out a piece of my heart and give it to them, and often they give me a piece of their heart which fits into the empty place in my heart, but because the pieces aren’t exact, I have some rough edges, which I cherish, because they remind me of the love we shared.”

“Sometimes I have given pieces of my heart away, and the other person hasn’t returned a piece of his heart to me. These are the empty gouges — giving love is taking a chance. Although these gouges are painful, they stay open, reminding me of the love I have for these people too, and I hope someday they may return and fill the space I have waiting. So now do you see what true beauty is?”

The young man stood silently with tears running down his cheeks. He walked up to the old man, reached into his perfect young and beautiful heart, and ripped a piece out. He offered it to the old man with trembling hands.

The old man took his offering, placed it in his heart and then took a piece from his old scarred heart and placed it in the wound in the young man’s heart. It fit, but not perfectly, as there were some jagged edges. The young man looked at his heart, not perfect anymore but more beautiful than ever, since love from the old man’s heart flowed into his.

They embraced and walked away side by side.

  1. #1 by Nili on June 3, 2010 11:40 am - 11:40 am

    Very sorry to hear of your loss. Good dogs are always remembered.

  2. #2 by Timmy Z on June 7, 2010 1:03 pm - 1:03 pm

    Hey Bill –
    Sorry to hear about your doggy. I know your pain, having lost mine a year ago. They are the best, and so glad you gave him a great home and cared so deeply for him. That’s the best thing you could do, and I’m sure he passed on a happy dog. Maybe him and Kali are playing now in doggy heaven 🙂

  3. #3 by Bill on June 7, 2010 3:06 pm - 3:06 pm

    Thanks guys, it means a lot to me.

  4. #4 by glasspixie on June 8, 2010 8:13 pm - 8:13 pm

    I’m so sorry about Charlie. She was such a super awesome dog. She was lucky to have owners who loved her so much. I hope your heart heals soon and you can remember her with more smiles than tears.

    <3 Mandy

  5. #5 by Weesa on June 10, 2010 7:58 am - 7:58 am

    I couldn’t have said it better. I miss her too…very much.

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