Here's who I am.
I am a beloved creature of God.
I am a human Being.
I am a man.
I am a husband, father, grandfather, friend and priest.
I am an only child.
I read five books a week and delight in the stories they tell.
I grew up alone and not only liked it, I thrived in it. I'm never bored. I don't even know what people--even people I love--mean when they speak of their boredom.I'm my own best company. I like to be alone. And I'm never bored.
Another thing I've not understood is 'being lonely'.
I've been a priest and comfort to hundreds and hundreds of people. Mostly I'm pretty good at it. Sometimes I'm brilliant at it. I have often made a difference for people who have talked with me.
Except when their problem was 'being lonely'. I feel I've failed them though I've listened and listened. I just haven't known what they were talking about.
I've considered it over the years. If my family and friends were all gone and I had no folks to serve in a church as a priest and a friend, would I be lonely?
I've never thought so. I'm an only child and never bored. If I were alone, I've always thought, I'd read and write more and not be lonely.
Then that blessed/damned Puli died.
Every time I come inside, I expect Bela to be there to greet me. I expect to turn around as I'm writing this and see him asleep behind me. I expect to feed and walk him each day. I expect to pick some of his hair off whatever I put on. I expect to hug him in the night.
And I am lonely for the first time ever.
That dog gave me many gifts--patience, great and enormous love, comfort and affirmation.
And now the 'gift' of lonliness.
And it is a 'gift'. Being given something you never had is a remarkable gift.
One more reason to miss him. And feel lonely without him.
Now I know what it means.
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