March 19, 2002

Ben is 6 today. Ben is 6 today. When he woke up next to me, rolled over and in his imperfect speech told me we needed a dog, a voice in my head screamed, "Ben is 6 today, get him whatever he wants!"

Ben has wanted a dog for a long time. He craves only a black lab. No other dog will do. One day standing on the corner waiting for his brother to arrive home from school, Ben saw a man in a red pick-up drive by. The man had a black lab in the seat next to him. Ben sighed a deep longing sigh and said, "that man got his dog." In that moment I saw my Ben all grown up - just a guy in a pick-up riding along with his dog.

I knew I didnít want a dog. Three kids, Benís issues and a puppy to walk and train.

No way! But I called the number in the Globe anyway. I drove to the kennel. Ben is 6 today, I told myself and he wants two black dogs. Hocus and Pocus, he told me.

I sat outside the kennel for a long time. I think if I hadnít been crying so hard - too hard to ring the bell, Iíd be walking a dog right now. Instead paralyzed by the knowledge that if the averages hold true I have watched half my sonís life pass, I drove home.

I hope that when I wake up tomorrow, I donít hear, "Ben is 6 and 1 day - HURRY!"

Ben is seven now. The years are passing quickly - too quickly. I still worry. I have to work hard at not losing each day to the anger and worry that I am one day closer to being too late to save Ben.

Today Ben has his dog. Her name is Poppy. She is a sweet, gentle, much loved black Labrador. I donít know if I will ever see Ben drive that red pick-up with Poppy in the seat next to him, but I know I will always see the smile she brings to his handsome face.

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