The Dog’s Not Dead

The sun was shining. I was a day away from rolling my car windows down for the first time in 5 months and feeling cool spring air roll into my vehicle, heated from the sun beating against the black leather interior.

I had been at my new job for a week and a half and I had driven 110 miles that day visiting different facilities.

6 months ago the guys changing my oil told me my rear brakes were worn down to 2 mm. But I never know who to trust when it comes to cars – and it felt like it was braking fine. “Later,” I told them.

Within the most recent week my car felt like it was braking soft and over the 110 miles I had driven that day it had started to squeak when I braked. Now, I thought.

I called the shop and told them I’d be bringing my vehicle in that night after work. I called Levi when I got off work and he said he would come pick me up when I dropped my car off and that I should call him when I got close to the shop.

20 minutes of highway driving, poor singing, and mind-wandering later I grabbed my phone to call Levi back, and I saw the notification on my home screen.

4 missed calls. All from Levi.

I hadn’t turned my ringer back on when I left work. Levi never calls that many times in a row. He didn’t leave any voice-mails. He didn’t send any texts. I dialed him. No answer. Five minutes later I was turning onto the street of the repair shop and I tried calling him again. No answer.

Something’s wrong I thought to myself. Levi never calls that many times. Why wouldn’t he leave a message? Why didn’t he pick up when I called him back? Was the space heater unplugged when I left the apartment this morning? Were all of the stove knobs turned off? Was there anything left out that Gunner could have eaten?

Gunner. Something had to be wrong with Gunner. Levi had just parked in the apartment parking lot when I talked to him on the phone earlier. He was going to go inside and take care of Gunner. I knew Levi was home safe. So it had to be Gunner.

I drove past the repair shop and zeroed in on the minutes and miles that were between me and home. I took the corners too fast. I tried to tell myself that nothing was wrong – but I was also bracing myself for the worst.

What if Gunner is hurt and Levi is driving him to the vet? What if Gunner is dead and Levi is trying to figure out what to?  “Don’t be ridiculous,” I told myself. “Gunner is not dead.”

I pulled in the parking lot and saw Levi’s truck there. Well, they’re not at the vet. Gunner’s dead, I thought. I got out of the car, willed myself into the apartment, and told myself to breathe. I turned the key in our doorknob, and while doing so I tried to listen for any confirming sounds that Levi and Gunner were inside – alive and well – maybe playing tug-of-war with a toy.

I couldn’t hear anything so I opened the door. I couldn’t see anybody when I stepped in. “Hello?” I called out.

Gunner came bounding around the corner and Levi stepped out of the kitchen into the hallway.

“What’s going on?”, I said with a mixture of relief, anger, and accusation.

“YOU’RE NOT DEAD.” I said as I grabbed Gunner’s face in my hands.

“Dead?” Levi laughed and looked at me like I was crazy.

“You called four times and didn’t leave a message. You never call that many times! You didn’t answer when I called back!” I laid out my case.

“I was calling you because I got a quote for your brakes from another auto body shop and wanted to let you know before you went to the shop you had called. I didn’t answer because I was walking Gunner and forgot to bring my phone with me,” he said perfectly calm, slightly amused, and still looking at me like I was a little crazy.

“Ahh…” I let out a recognition of plausibility. “Well…..the dog’s not dead.”

The brakes got fixed. Gunner was fine. I got the ringer on my phone turned on. And then I wondered how I let myself get to where I was – nearly convinced that something terrible had happened.

Why do we do this? Why do we let our minds leap to the worst possible conclusions? I think we believe that if we prepare ourselves for the worst, then we can handle whatever the situation is. We hedge our bets. But what we seem to forget is that we can’t control what will happen, and that we will handle the situation regardless.

There is a quote that says “worrying is like walking around with an umbrella waiting for it to rain.” I keep an umbrella in my car, but I don’t carry one with me everywhere I go. AND I usually need the umbrella when I’m not in my car... so I just have to make do with my coat, or end up getting soaked in the rain. 

We can try to plan and prepare and imagine what’s going to happen, but we can never control everything. It’s time to stop wasting energy and effort on worrying and worst case scenarios, and start placing more faith in knowing that everything will be OK in the long run. 

Puppy Gunner – March 2011
photo (2)
St. Louis – March 2013
South Dakota – July 2014

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