If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that we celebrated a big milestone this past weekend, Henry’s eighth birthday. I received Henry as part of my 21st birthday gift and in that time, he’s managed to fill my heart full of love and joy while simultaneously emptying my bank account. Though I can’t imagine my life without him, I wasn’t initially keen on Henry.
Almost one year to the day before Henry was born (July 28, 2008) my childhood lab, Bo, passed away during my first summer home from college. Being an only child, Bo was the closest thing to a sibling I had ever known and when we lost him suddenly to the dreaded c-word, my heart was shattered into what felt like millions of pieces. So when my parents called to tell me that they were getting another dog, a yellow lab, I surprised myself when I asked if I could have one too. It was my junior year of college and I had just moved into a house that I purposely selected because they allowed dogs.
Though he was adorable that first year, he drove me insane. I don’t think my heart was 100% healed from losing Bo and I had a difficult time learning to love him. There’s one story that I often tell that I think epitomizes Henry’s puppyhood. In our townhouse at the time, Henry stayed in his crate on the first floor in the opposite corner from the front door. A few feet from his cage, we had a love seat parallel to his crate so that you could see the back of the loveseat when you entered the door. One afternoon, I opened the door to discover that Henry had managed to bounce in his crate across the hardwood floor to the back of the loveseat and chew it so that the backing was completely open and stuffing filled the room. He sat in his crate with his tail proudly waging.
Though he frequently jumped on the counter and ate my dinner and destroyed every sock I owned from the depths of underneath my bed, within that first year, I went through my real first rocky relationship where I heavily leaned on Henry for comfort and support and the rest, is history. Through changes in friendships and failed relationships as we moved to multiple zip codes, Henry was always my one constant for the past eight years. Despite the oscillations, Henry has always been the one to need me and love me unconditionally. I safely guard my heart which has often led me to be perceived as cold over the years but with Henry, he’s the only one who I’ve ever truly been able to melt into.
Which is why, I’m terrified for his surgery tomorrow. With Henry, I’m always the worst case scenario. A small sneeze out of the ordinary can lead me to cancel every plan for the upcoming week so that I can sit at home and safely monitor him. I know an ACL surgery is common, especially with large dogs, but I feel as if I’ll be frozen until I hear from the vet after his surgery to know that everything went ok and they didn’t find anything else and together, we can begin to heal.
Sometimes when I pray, I find myself praying for my wants and always correct myself that God has a plan larger than what I can conceive and I should pray for patience while I wait for His plan to unfold instead of praying for what I want. I desperately want (and need) Henry to be OK so praying right now is tougher than ever. Selfishly, life without Henry is unimaginable. He’s been my sole source of that companionship that I deeply desire and I'm too fearful of being truly alone.
As I wait, I’ll keep listening to the uneven beat of his limpy paws coming down the hallway and be grateful for eight years of unconditional love through those big brown eyes (though praying, for many more.)
Our deepest gratitude for your prayers, thoughts, and support.
PS. A post from the archives of another time Henry sent my anxiety through the roof.
PPS. The first picture I ever posted of me and Hens! (Taken on my BlackBerry.)