There was a time when I was much younger, a single mom, living in a house with a cute guy next door. This particular cute guy was not Pete. I can’t remember this fella’s name but I remember his dog, Buddy, because I watched him die.
Buddy was a big puppy. Black, a long-haired lab maybe or some kind of lab, wolfhound cross. Who knows? I remember him being big, dumb, adorable, cuddly and gigantic. I remember how kind his owner was, how we circled one another without ever touching.
I live in the suburbs and yet, on land where I can keep a horse and do. I still live in the same neighborhood.
One day I decided to go riding in the ‘burbs. This involved crossing a busy highway and a bridge with 4 lanes of traffic by riding down the median. Not a problem for me or my horse.
So, we headed out of the neighborhood but Buddy came gallumphing behind. He was loose, as per the norm, while his master was at work. So I took Buddy home and locked him on his back porch and left again.
Repeat this story 2x for Buddy’s back porch and 2x for my back porch. Eventually I thought I’d made my escape. Buddy caught up as I rode down the middle of the median across the bridge. I turned to look at him just as he jumped out into the traffic. He was immediately slammed by a car and died there, horribly, right before my eyes.
My neighbor never spoke to me again. Obviously someone saw me riding out, putting the dog back, riding out, putting the dog back and told him about it. It was all my fault that Buddy was dead.
This was 20 years ago, I think, and until very recently I felt guilty every time I thought about Buddy and his owner. Recently though, I have decided to forgive myself. I didn’t leave Buddy loose all day, every day. I put him back in the safest places I could come up with several times. Still, he got out and still he was killed and if it happened today, I would do things differently.
But I don’t get a re-do. Buddy is dead. The guy moved away without ever speaking to me. I never told him how sorry I was that I didn’t do something differently or more effectively, to keep Buddy safe.
The guilt is old, though, and it has to die. Yes, like Buddy, but also like all of these sad, old hurts we love so much to hold onto. So, I’m sorry, man who owned Buddy. I know that your heart was broken and that mine was too. I’m healing this now, letting it go. So, goodbye, take care, love to you both. ~me