Love & Grace

Gracie recently celebrated her second birthday.

This is a story about love.

It’s a personal story, but I’m sharing in the hope that you may find something of value. Something you can apply to your own life.

So here goes….

As you know, COVID brought us unprecedented challenges, forcing people around the world to adapt to a new way of life.

The pandemic also ended the lives of nearly 7 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

I was almost one of those people.

It was nearly three years ago that I contracted the virus that put me in grave danger; clinging to life in the ICU at Bethesda Hospital.

During the 39 days I spent fighting to survive, I vowed that if I made it, I would spend more time appreciating the gifts that I’ve been given—a wonderful wife, a beautiful family, great friends and  meaningful work.

I’ve always been an appreciative person, but I feel things deeper now. In a weird way, COVID was a gift.

The disease reminded me that life is finite, and that tomorrow is not guaranteed. Of course, I knew this pre-COVID, but my experience of isolation in the hospital drilled that concept deep into my consciousness.

I’ve never been a materialistic person, but I wanted three things when I got out of the hospital: more time with my wife Diane, a getaway place in Maine and a golden retriever.

I’m still working on the time with Diane (there will never be enough) but we got a place in Portland and a Golden named Gracie came into our lives. As a bonus, we rescued a Chihuahua named Emmitt from a wonderful non-profit in Maine called Ellie’s Legacy Animal Foundation.


I share this because I hope it inspires you to be conscious of time, grateful for health and maybe open to bringing a pet into your life if you have the inclination (it is a major commitment).

Gracie just turned two and if you would excuse the pun, she’s a golden ray of sunshine. When Gracie entered our lives, she brought love, happiness, and healing to me in the post-COVID era. She brought our family even closer, because our children love her too and want to be nearby.

She’s a happy dog, always smiling. Always glad to see you. Always there with a hug (seriously, she actually hugs you).

She’s also goofy and like most pets full of unique quirks. She watches TV—but only shows that feature dogs, loves her little brother Emmitt, and has a thing for shadows. She likes to chase them.

I’ve had a few goldens in my life; my childhood dog Rusty was a shepherd-retriever mix, he was followed by Magnum, Casey and then Teddy. All of them were amazing—loyal, loving and fun.

But golden retrievers also shed (a lot), require lots of exercise and have been known to drool. Of course, their great qualities more than make up for having hair on literally everything that comes into the house.

When we lost Teddy, we were heartbroken. He was a soul mate as much as a pet. It’s hard to describe, but Teddy was so good that you had to remind yourself that he wasn’t a person. He was considerate—I’m serious he was.

When he got cancer, we did everything possible to save him and probably bought him a year. Losing him was devastating and we felt the same way when his 19-year-old chihuahua brother Randy passed away surrounded by family and our longtime friend and vet Dr. Jim Grubb.

So going down the emotional road again, post COVID was a big decision. But I told Diane that I’m just happier when I have a golden retriever in my life. Luckily, she feels the same way and so we brought Gracie into our home. She has filled it with love ever since.

But she and Emmitt bring something even deeper to our lives.

If we open our eyes, dogs teach us valuable lessons.

Gracie reminds us of the importance of living in the present. She teaches us to embrace joy and to find that joy in the simple things. She also reminds us to cherish the connections we have with others and to express our love and affection freely. Gracie’s unwavering spirit and boundless love are a constant reminder that even in the face of adversity, happiness is always within reach.

That’s a concept that I need to be conscious of because post COVID…. I’m different. I just am.

Recently, I read a story about the actor Jeff Bridges. He survived a cancer diagnosis and a terrible case of COVID that almost took his life. He spent 35 days in the hospital. I had him beat by four days, but our survival story had a lot of similarities. The intense struggle to breathe, the awful weakness, the searing pain, and the refusal to be on a ventilator.

But what shook me was his description of something he called “morning dread.” Mr. Bridges struggles in the morning. So, do I.

I thought what I have been experiencing was unique, but it isn’t. I did a little research after reading about Mr. Bridges’ case and learned that COVID does impact mental health; they call it post-COVID anxiety and studies are under way. I’ve shared with readers of this blog, that I struggled after I came home. I did some therapy via Zoom and it really helped. But that darn morning dread…. well it has persisted. It doesn’t visit every day, but it does come often and when it comes it’s not good.

Emmitt and Gracie help alleviate the dread. Their adorable faces are better than any prescription.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, Gracie and Emmitt have emerged as guiding lights, offering solace and unconditional love. These two goofy characters have brought happiness into our lives. They foster healing. They spread joy.

Gracie’s presence reminds me that even in the most challenging times, love and companionship can uplift our spirits and restore our faith. Through Gracie and Emmitt, I rediscovered that sometimes, the smallest acts of kindness—like a wagging tail and a wet nose—can have the most significant impact.

Note: I was saddened to learn of the passing of Joseph Lang, a veteran Delray Beach firefighter who retired in 2017 after 25 years of service.

Joe was a wonderful guy who served on the department’s decorated dive team and served as a driver/engineer.

He will be missed. May his memory be a blessing.
Finally, happy birthday America. Have a safe and wonderful fourth.



  1. Inspiring, as always! When morning dread hits … remember how many of us you inspire everyday. And puppy kisses. Lots of puppy kisses.

    Happy 4th! 🇺🇸

  2. Constance says

    Thank you for sharing your heart ans soul. The love of family especially our furry friends gives us purpose. Bringing us closer together, stronger and more appreciative.
    Thank you my friend for your wisdom.

  3. James Eaton says

    Thank you for your words.

  4. Ted Hoskinson says

    As usual, your words are inspiring and uplifting. I used to own Shelties and now I have 3 cats. They do show more love than I expected, but you have put a “Sheltie thought” back into my head! Animsls are certainly special!

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