As I write this, one of our family dogs is being put down. I will not be there.

Buddy was fifteen years old. For a small dog especially, he’s had a long, long life. He is the second dog we have lost now. It is a gut-wrenching decision no matter what – is it fair? is he happy? are we only making him hang on for us? He brought us such joy. He was welcomed into the first house I ever lived in, which is four houses ago now. And he’s been through a lot with us.

When he was young, he was the local soccer prince – and he acted like it, too. He’d mess with his older brother, Oscar, until Oscar had to make clear who was in charge. I’ll never forget watching them play, and all of a sudden Buddy is on his back and Oscar has his paw resting lightly on his younger brother’s stomach. But they always looked out for each other. They started the family phrase “the dogs are going off,” to mean they were barking together at something or other, whether at a guest or a squirrel never really mattered.

I remember when Buddy pranced. He did, he pranced everywhere. His front legs would go out straight as he walked around (usually with a toy in his mouth) – a true prince. Like so many dogs, he could sense when I was sad and would then tolerate being held. He always knew when I was leaving again, to college or boarding school or camp, and would stay with me all day before I left.

We will miss him terribly. I wish I could give him one last hug, I wish I was there. When Oscar’s time came, we were all together.

Still, I’m reminded of that story that goes around. I didn’t see it until months or more after Oscar died. The gist is that a family makes the decision to put the family dog down. The parents debate bringing their 6 year-old to the vet with them, and ultimately explain and bring him along. As they stand there after, crying and holding each other and lamenting the short lives of dogs and other pets (I know the scene well by now), their 6 year-old surprises them by saying, “I know why.” They turn to him, and he continues, “People are put on the earth to learn to love each other and be nice, right?” They nod. “Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

It is a painful night, to be sure. But I try to take comfort in all of the good things, and in that story. Buddy, we miss you so much.

I almost lost a cousin today. Some people did. A brother, a sister, a wife, a best friend, a son. Or are with them, grieving over the place where a limb used to be. Minutes felt like hours as I waited to hear back from her, checked in with other friends and family in Boston or running today. I can’t recall feeling more helpless or scared in years. More. I was sick, I was stressed, worried, trying not to cry in the middle of the conference room. Thankfully I was alone in there for some of the time. I wanted news. Then pictures started getting picked up by the media. I had to stop. Even after I found out my cousin and about everyone I know in Boston was okay. I’m still incredibly rattled. When I called her I got only voicemail and tried really hard to keep calm. It was chaos, she was letting others know she was okay. But how can you know? My heart goes out to all the runners, friends, and family members of the victims. So many people, from all around the world, were hurt or are grieving today. I grieve with you. Love.