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Normally, I go to the river to fish and cast my flies, but not today. Today I went to the river to seek guidance and relive the terribly sad, traumatic events of several weeks past.
On a late June day in 2010, Gayle and I picked up our little girl boxer in Hyde Park. The little dog weighed a mere 26 pounds. As soon as we got in the car, the boxer climbed onto Gayle’s lap, gave a big sigh and went to sleep, seemingly to say “I’m home.” On the way, Gayle suggested Molly for her name. “Molly it is,” I said, and Molly it was it was for 10 years.
It didn’t take long for Molly to work her way into our hearts. She was such a smart, sweet little girl. At first we kept her in a kennel near our bed during the night. The poor thing was so lonely that she whimpered to tell us that she missed us. So after about two nights, Molly was in our bed, peacefully snoring away.
I think it took about a week for Molly to become my best friend. We went everywhere together: shopping in the Bronx, walking on the rail trail, visiting friends… Of course, we also went fishing.
One afternoon at our camp on the East Branch, Gayle, Molly and I were walking in the meadow by the river. The grass was tall and Molly went charging off through the grass to make a beautiful dive into the river. I thought I might have to go in after her, but instinct took over and Molly paddled to shore, shook herself off, looking a bit perplexed with her tail wagging.
As the years passed, we spent every day together. We had a routine: up in the morning, out for a walk and in for breakfast, which was usually followed by a walk on the rail trail. Then it was in again for a snack and chores. Molly had a big tub of toys; when she wanted to play, she would bark until I joined her and took out toys until I found the one she wanted.
Once trout season opened, we went to our camp on the East Branch. There, Molly investigated the surrounding vegetation for the little critters that lived there. After a while, she would nap on her pad in the meadow next to the river while I fished.
For 10 years, Molly was my best friend, constant companion and copilot. Then on March 11, Molly was diagnosed with gastric cancer. For the next several weeks, Molly went through ultra-sounds, cat-scans, biopsies and chemotherapy. She never complained, never whimpered—she went thought it all with class and grace. But we knew there was no cure.
Then on May 7, Molly took a turn for the worse. The vet came. I held Molly and kissed her goodbye as the drugs were administered. Then my little girl and best friend closed her eyes and went to sleep for the last time.
Making the decision to end Molly’s life was the most heart-wrenching call I ever had to make and something I’ll never come to grips with.
So, I went to the river today and sat where Molly napped, thinking about all our happy times there. I went to the river to look at the water and watch sunlight sparkle on the riffles. I went to the river, hoping the river gods would provide the strength to help me deal with the loss of my little girl, and maybe, someday, find peace.