I had a dog once, handsome and gentle. Playful and kind. I battled him (his word for playing) in the dog park and scolded him when he'd jump on people. He was a 130 pound monster. Scruffy like Han Solo, and sweet as an Ewok, he was the biggest of a litter of pound puppies. But he always was my little guy. When little dogs would play with him, he'd lay down and let them bite his face. He loved to be chased and hating chasing. He was raised on my lap. Even when he grew into a small horse, he would lumber on top of me, his limbs dangling over the sides of the chair. He didn't care and neither did I.

But these are memories. What I remember is a shadow. He is different now. After I left he became mean. He snaps at children and refuses to walk on a leash. He doesn't listen and growls more than I'd care for. But what did I expect? I left him. Anyone can show cute pictures to friends or speak glowingly when the topic is brought up. Real love is staying, honoring the promise. Marriages are bound by decree. The parent's promise is implicit, like it never needed to be said.

Time dissolves iron. Distance makes the brightest star dim. He's sleeping at the foot of someone else's bed. I left him. He moved on. Poor guy died in my dream last night. I ran to him furiously, but not fast enough.

This is the first and only time I've ever been responsible for a creature. It was my job to teach him how to be. It was my responsibility to see it through to the end. I want to say that I love him, but that's a lie. I miss him vicerally and my eyes light up when he's brought up, but I don't love him. Real parents stay. Everything else is an empty gesture.

I'm sorry, Henry.

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