The epiphany at 30,000 feet
Men don’t cry. We show no emotion. We have to be tough and unfeeling at all times.
I’m becoming a weepy middle-aged man.
We Measure Our Lives Through our Dogs
I was on a plane, somewhere over the United States at 30,000 feet. I started watching these 8-minute movies like commercials for Yeti coolers.
There was one about duck hunting and a Labrador retriever. It’s the story of a father and his son that would raise Labradors and go duck hunting. They have a dog named Sam.
Sam is getting older and they will retire her soon after she gets her best retrieve. She will then live out her life at home till her time comes.
She was a hard puppy to train, had her own way, tested her masters. She was loved and loved to retrieve.
The story cuts to the son, he’s chasing his daughter.
He can remember what dog he had when he graduated high school, college, got married, had his children. All different dogs.
“We measure our lives through our dogs.”
Her Best Retrieve
Cut to the father. He’s holding a collar.
“I wish they could live forever.” He is a weepy old man.
Sam is cremated and laid to rest. She rests by her favorite blind, where she had her best retrieve.
I cry on my United flight. I’m a weepy middle-aged man.
I was on a flight back from London when I watched the movie Nostalgia. It was generally an ok movie. It tried to convey an understanding of love and loss.
There was one part of the movie that caught me out of nowhere, the sudden death of Tallie.
Tallie is a bright girl about to graduate high school. Her Uncle visits the town to go through the estate of her grandparents. She asks her mother if she can go to the lake with her friends. After a few minutes of artful teenage wrangling, her mother relents. She says goodbye and tells her Uncle it’s good to see him again.
3 AM the Uncle’s phone rings. He is informed by his sister that Tallie was killed in a car accident. A drunk driver drove their car off the road.
It’s something we as parents dread.
That 3 AM phone call. Your child is gone.
Tallie’s mother breaks down. She is not a weepy middle-aged woman. She is a grieving mother.
They are not supposed to die. We are to die first.
I can feel her loss.
I cry on another United flight. I am a weepy middle-aged man.
I am a weepy middle-aged man?
Dear friend. I don’t think I am weepy.
I think weepy is not the right word. It does not get to the core of what I am feeling.
Yes, I am a middle-aged man but I think I’ve become more aware.
Aware of my place in the web of life.
I am a father.
I am a husband.
I am a member of my community.
I am a member of the world.
I feel. I have emotions.
Empathy. Compassion. Love.
It’s all really there.
It’s all really, really, there.
I am not weepy. I can relate to loss.
I can empathize and realize the gravity of loss. The fragility of it all.
I am human.