Highs and Lows

I’ve been a father for one week now, and it’s been a crazy adventure already. We’ve experienced some amazing highs, and some devastating lows. My son is awesome. He’s growing, eating and getting less yellow. He’s been seen three times for jaundice, but the doctor feels good about it going away on its own. Brooke is doing good too. She had a very rough labor, and she’s healing slowly, but each day she gets a little better. Even the post-pregnancy weepies have been manageable. 

Side note: For those that don’t know, your wife/significant other will lose her mind over some relatively trivial thing in the first few days after the baby is born. Do not try to console her, you cannot relate. If possible, find another woman for her to talk to, it will be good for you both.

I feel like I’m really going to be good at this dad thing. Parker seems to like me. I can’t wait for him to grow and for his personality to develop. Right now he’s just this little thing that poops, cries and eats, that also happens to look like me. I love him so much already though.

So what about those devastating lows? Well in mid-September our three year old bulldog, Berkeley, started to limp. The vet gave him some pain meds, and his limp got worse. Several vet trips, x-rays, and a specialist appointment later, things look grim. The specialist called me today and said he was 99 percent sure Berkeley has bone cancer. It’s extremely rare for a dog his age and breed, so there’s a sliver of a chance it’s something else, but it’s not likely. The median life expectancy for a dog with his condition is about six months. That really sucks.

What’s tough about dogs is that you can’t let them know what they mean to you. Yes they love you unconditionally, but they don’t know how much you love them back. So since I can’t get it through his head, I’ll type it here:

 

Berkeley,

I love you. I am not a man of many friends, and I count you among my closest. When we moved to Charlotte, just me you and Brooke in the Uhaul, we were so excited to bring you on our adventure. We always wanted a bulldog, and you were perfect. Every time I see a UHaul I still think about you climbing around on the over-sized dashboard as we drove from Arkansas to North Carolina.

In Charlotte, when it took me months to find a job, and I learned tough lessons on pride, budgeting, anxiety and worry, you comforted me. We would walk in the afternoon and you would listen with that dopey smile as I told you about the jobs I applied for and how sure I was this next one was it. In that first apartment you would sit on our old green couch and stare out our second story window, soaking in the sun and letting your happiness radiate out to us. We had just enough money to feed ourselves, and feed you. You didn’t know how rough it got, you just kept plugging along, so I did too.

In 2010, when I worked from home at my last job, you were my coworker. You kept me sane in that little spare room, and your contented snores from behind me warmed my heart. Your simple happiness never failed to settle my nerves when I was stressed. Every day I would sit down at my desk with my coffee, and you would hop up on the bed behind me and huff that slobbery sigh that said, “I’m happy here.” I was happy you were there too.

In 2011 I got a new job, and you were always the first to greet me when I got home. The funny dance you would do as you galloped my way was something I cherished. I knew you loved me, that I was your Austin. In May, we bought our first home. We had you in mind of course—a big backyard that you could run and play in. It still doesn’t have a fence though.

And now here we are, just three years in. You’ve been dealt a bad hand friend, and I’m truly sorry about that. I had hoped you’d grow old here in this house, and my son would come to know you and love you as I do. It’s not fair. Not at all. With Parker’s birth you had to drop down a wrung in the importance ladder of the family. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t loved. You were the first member of our little family, and I’ll never forget what you’ve done for me. These next few months will be rough. The pain in your knee will get worse, and I’ll shed many more tears. We’re going to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible. I hope you know that I love you. You are more than my dog, you are my friend.

Thank you for everything Berkeley. You will be missed, and you will always be loved.

Your friend,

Austin