A Dickens Tail

No one likes to think of themselves as Ebenezer Scrooge, though one person is more like him than he ever imagined.

Like Ebenezer, there once was a boy who believed that he had been left to fend for himself. He was not at want for basic material things, rather he longed for loving company that would last.

Though he found comfort basking in the kindness of special others, he found their presence to be fleeting. Death, divorce, suicide and unexpected journeys took many of his companions away, one by one.

So scared did this boy become of loving that he began to hoard his feelings and withdrew into himself. He suspected many, trusted few.

The boy grew into a fearful adult, unsure of how to get along in a world that seemed to demand much - and show little mercy.

By way of a chance introduction that never would have happened if not for one of his early “losses,” the man caught the eye of a wise, reserved soul. Together, they decided to share the love that they had hoarded.

Their time to bring children into the world, alas, had passed. But the woman believed that her’s and her man’s love was sufficiently broad and deep to cradle and nurture a being of a different species: a furry beast with four legs.

The man, on the other hand, was terrified! Despite the enduring presence of his true love, the man was haunted by his boyish ghosts of loss. “The beast will grow old and die before us,” the man reasoned. “We both have suffered enough leavings in our lifetime.”

But the woman’s will won out (thank goodness!) and the two brought home a scrappy boy with a stout snout. Sadly, the beast was even more distrustful of strangers than was the man and the couple’s urban dwelling was too small to harbor his free-range spirit. The woman was brave enough to voice the truth they both knew and their “son” was sent to live with the horses.

The man was crushed. He fought hard to keep from vilifying love and miserly tucking his trust into tiny envelopes, only to be sealed away forever. Painful as it was to do, the man reflected on the year he had with his boy and began to unwrap those envelopes, releasing the gifts that lived inside.

Love, the man discovered, is not measured by chronological time. Nor is it weighed against the result one had in mind.

As it turned out, the man and woman’s role was to deliver the beast from cold, hunger and loneliness. Their home was meant to be his only until his forever parents could be found.

Their boy may have been gone, but he lived still between the man and the woman, loving them, filling their empty spaces. The man wondered whether it could actually be that love grows from the mere act of loving; that by loving as hard as you can and no matter what happens you have more love to give than you did before you loved.

The answer came two-and-a-half years ago with the adoption of their new “daughter” who has her mother’s kind eye’s - and her absent-brother’s spunky soul.

Dickens teaches that love can live inside the most frightened, miserly man.

Like me.