I was trying very hard to keep this private, but it’s now spread around, so I feel it’s best to share it with you all…
After fifteen years of loyal company, my Zachary passed on New Year’s morning. After seeming perfectly fine on New Year’s Eve (which ironically is when I thought to use his picture to illustrate my point yesterday), Zach woke up retching, dizzy, and with very labored breathing.
By the time we got to the emergency room it was too late 🙁
Which is the saddest way I could possibly have imagined starting the New Year.
But then, of all things, my housekeeper came to me crying at the news. She told me a long story about how she was terrified of dogs for her whole life until she worked for us… but there was just no way she could remain afraid after having Zachary’s company.
Which brought back a flood of memories…
You see, Zachary was with me when I was in the midst of my busy 65 person practice on Long Island…
- When I worked with children, I’d often bring him in. It was astounding how nothing I learned in five years of graduate (and post graduate) training could get these kids to open up, but the moment he was in the room many of these kids would tell all
- There were also several adult patients and coaching clients who requested he join us for their sessions. Rape victims, PTSD sufferers… and even just some “desperate housewives” who found it so much easier to delve into their goals, obstacles, and fears with Zachary by their side
- One time I forget to leave the door to the upstairs closed so he couldn’t come down to my session room unplanned… at which time he promptly came down and knocked on the door. My client asked who it was, and I said “I think it’s my dog who’d like to join us.” She was utterly convinced I had planned this and broke down crying to thank me. (Followed by some very serious progress given her new level of trust… so I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t dissuade her from that notion)
Of course, Zachary also made it possible for ME to do things I never thought possible. Like an 18 mile hike in the wilderness where I didn’t see another soul, but only heard his little chain dangling and his little doggy breath faithfully behind me for hours on end. I think without him I might have gone mad. (And this is, of course, a metaphor for other things I’ve had to face alone which I’d not have had the courage to face without my little companion)
In any case, it so happens I’m working with a ghost writer to develop a book about how to coach well when you’ve got trauma in your own life. Perhaps this is an opportunity to show you.
I’ve always done best when I focus on my clients and/or students needs at these times. It takes me out of myself and helps me process the loss in small doses. And paradoxically, I often find at these times I’m actually at my best… perhaps because it reminds me how very precious life is.
This is one of the very few things I’m likely to have difficulty talking about in public sessions, or responding to in private emails and messages. So if you REALLY want to help it’s not really your condolences and personal messages which would be most effective. Instead here’s the best way: TAKE A STEP FORWARD TODAY IN YOUR OWN LIFE IN HIS MEMORY
Whatever that means to you, and whatever Sharon and I may mean to you… what would mean the most to us would be to know that this day, this very sad day, was the day YOU had the courage to step beyond your own internal struggles and move your OWN life forward in some small way…
And, if you’re so inclined, let us know what you did below.
This way you’ll always remember our dear dog Zachary as a positive force which started your train moving further than you thought it ever could… and even though you two may never have met he may indeed wind up meaning to you even a fraction of what he meant to me.
Goodbye my boy… if there is a dog heaven God knows you belong there.
You will be dearly missed.