NEKAYAH, THE COUNSELOR
CAN GOD USE A DOG?
While visiting a rehab center Nekayah and I visited “Bob.” “Bob had been in the VA hospital in another city for about three weeks. I had missed him on my visits and had some concern for him. Well, “Bob” returned and when we walked into the room he started to get up as he said, “Oh, there’s that sweetheart. I’ve missed her so much.” I told him not to get up that Nekayah would come to him. “Bob” is a diabetic and is in this facility because he cannot be home alone. He had lost his desire to live and care for his diabetic issues. “Bob” is about 75, is smart, and a poet and painter, but tends to be reclusive and deeply depressed.
I asked him how he was doing and he said in a cracking voice, “Not very good.” His lower lip began to quiver. With concern I asked, “Bob” what’s the matter. Sensing something, Nekayah scooted up to the bed and placed her snout on the bed and stared at “Bob.” “Bob” looked at the concerned face of Nekayah and his eyes filled with tears as he said again, “Ohhh you sweetheart.” Nekayah had studied long enough. She looked as if to assess how much room there was on the bed. Determining there was room for her she jumped up on the bed, laid along side “Bob” and placed her head across his neck. “Bob” wrapped his arms around her as if physical contact had been lacking for a long time. Nekayah never moved or pulled her head out of his grip. “Bob” released his hold and Nekayah reached up and began licking his bearded face profusely. “Bob” is now laughing because no matter which way he moved his face Nekayah kept licking as if this was a game. Yet, tears of sadness were on his cheeks. Perhaps this is what Nekayah noticed and was trying to calm “Bob.”
“I wish I had someone to love me like you do, you sweetheart,” “Bob” said. Then as if I was not in the room “Bob” began to tell Nekayah how difficult he was to live with and how, after 50 years of marriage his wife left him and two of his sons wanted nothing to do with him. He told Nekayah that his other son is a lawyer and how close they are and that this son takes care of all his affairs. “I felt so worthless this morning and asked God to send me something that would tell me I am worth loving, and here you are laying close to me, not because your master told you to, but because you wanted to. “Bob poured his heart out to Nekayah who laid close beside him with her head on his chest, looking upward at him as he talked, and every now and then giving him and big kiss, first on one cheek, then the other. For about fifteen minutes “Bob” and Nekayah had a conversation in their own respective ways. There was no doubt that this was their time.
I then sat down beside “Bob,” Nekayah still lying beside him between us. “Bob” and I talked for about ½ hour. Nekayah stayed right where she was and from time to time would move her head across “Bob’s” chest, then over his neck, then on his shoulder, then a gentle lick, all of which seemed to be punctuations in our conversation.
I left “Bob” to go visit some other patients and when I left I passed the offices near the front doors. I caught something of interest just to my right. There sat “Bob” in one of the offices with one of the staff talking and laughing. I think God responded to “Bob’s” prayer and sent something that would tell him he is worth loving. Linda and I visited him a week later and he was still on top of his depression and he told Linda he attributed his improvement to that day with Nekayah because she listened to and loved him.
Now, I’m writing this March 16, 2009. “Bob is completely out of his depression, writes and publishes poetry, is writing a book, and every day “could not be better.” I am told he is never depressed, and counsels other patients who are having struggles. He tells me that in many ways these last eight months are the best months of his 80 years. He continues to see Nekayah every Monday. He and Nekayah have a little ritual all their own. He lays on the bed, Nekayah jumps up, lies across his chest and they have their own conversation intermingled with lots of kisses.