I never saw Johnny unhappy.
Truth be told, Johnny insisted that everyone around him be as happy as he was.
Before I met him.
I would have immediately assumed.
Which, as you know.
Makes an ass out of you and me.
That anyone who insisted others be as happy as they were.
Was a complete and utter asshole who would never merit any of my time or attention.
I like to believe most people feel this way.
But Johnny taught me differently.
I am not someone who is of the mushy, feel good persuasion.
I am not a pessimist either; merely a realist.
I maintain a No Fairy Tale Zone in my life at all times.
Johnny was real, and to my surprise, he won me over as easily.
As he seemed to win over anyone else.
It wasn’t just one thing, either.
He gave of himself, keeping those in hard times company.
Johnny had an enthusiastic, loud voice, which one might ordinarily call annoying.
But the sheer joy contained therein made everyone respond.
His smile was brilliant.
He gave affection freely, and even the coldest, most frigid people responded.
He uplifted wherever he went, and oh how he went.
Far and wide, could be found Johnny.
It was a different time, back then.
Strangers, even large guys like Johnny were welcomed, not feared.
Today, lesser physical specimens frighten greater ones.
But then again, how many souls do you encounter that are always happy?
Without the assistance of the latest don’t bring me down drug, that is?
Or alcohol, cigarettes, or any of the other million ways we’ve come up with.
That promise a slow, painful, lingering death one day; but not today.
But no matter; enjoy the buzz today and ignore the payment that will come tomorrow.
Johnny didn’t think that way of course.
He was the ultimate optimist.
Perhaps this is why when he died, it hit everyone so hard.
I suppose to those who were closest to him.
Of which, believe it or not, I was one.
Had become in some way dependent on the warmth of their sun.
He could bring a smile to our faces with little to no effort.
He didn’t see always the worst, because he only believed in the best.
Such people are rare today.
I believe they exist.
But I also believe they are parceled out by the powers that be very carefully.
Two in a lifetime is probably too much to hope for.
Much less expect.
I believe everyone is psychic to some degree as well.
Johnny was no exception.
He was irresistibly drawn to people going through rough times.
Some people have natural abilities as healers.
Some have a way with math.
Others abilities with language.
Name something you are good at, and I’ll tell you.
You had an affinity for it from birth.
Sure, you had to study and apply effort to perfect it.
And you know if you don’t use it.
You lose it.
So perhaps Johnny’s ability to not only be happy at all times.
But to bring others happiness.
Was a born trait that he expanded on, and strengthened.
As he used it.
Which does not negate the fact that it existed.
Logic and common sense, contrary to popular belief, are something any actual psychic or medium uses.
Because we all know, don’t we?
That life has it’s ups and downs.
That you are not going to get everything you want.
That you are going to fall face first into a pile of shit at least once in your lifetime.
If someone puts their lips to my ass and blows.
It’s all hot air; all fluff.
If someone says hey, next few months are going to go like this.
Then slaps me on the ass hard.
After I file a sexual harassment lawsuit.
Or zap them with my recently acquired million volt stun gun.
I’ll consider believing them.
Because no lesson worth learning comes easy.
All lessons are served hard and cold.
Because softness and warmth teach us nothing but dependence.
In this world, where it’s all too important that we are independent; Johnny was happy, but no fool.
He knew danger when he saw it.
He avoided people he could not contribute to.
Which was rare, but had happened on occasion.
We’ve all met the constant downer.
The drama prone neighbor.
The in law who believes their stubbed toe.
Is worse than your cancer.
Johnny had no more time nor patience than I do with such people.
I suppose it was one redeeming quality he saw in me.
Oh, truth be told, he was so happy go lucky.
I am quite certain he saw something more in me than I did…or indeed do today.
Such souls always find something more redeeming in us than we can ever locate on our own.
They believe in us when we cannot or will not believe in ourselves.
Oftentimes, they see a greater purpose that will be fulfilled one day.
A bright future, rather than a dark abyss.
They give us permission to believe in ourselves, and normally.
They do it when no one else will.
It is nearly always a bittersweet experience when one of these rare, beautiful creatures.
Graces us with their presence.
For nothing so bright or beautiful can last.
Which is why Johnny made the impact he did on me, and indeed, on everyone he met.
The brightest flame burns quickest, it is said.
I’m sure by this point.
You know that Johnny died long ago.
He died laughing, during a joyful sprint.
I was there, you see.
I watched him fall.
Ran to him.
Screamed for help until someone came.
I knew he was gone.
I even knew where he went.
One of the perks of being a medium, you know.
Little comfort that brought me then.
To be honest, it brings little comfort now.
For we mediums are never allowed to talk to our loved ones.
Call it a blessing and a curse.
We know where they go, through those we can talk to.
We know they are in good hands, and happy.
But we cannot have the same joyful reunion we help provide others.
Is it worth it?
Depends on which day you ask me.
Knowing where Johnny is does not make me miss him less.
Not that you have to subscribe to any of this medium nonsense, of course.
Everyone reserves the right to their own belief.
I depended on my belief as I struggled to drag Johnny’s lifeless head into my lap.
To hold him one last time, before saying goodbye to the empty shell his body had become.
As it turned out, it was not the last time I would see his body.
Have you ever noticed that sometimes.
When a death occurs.
There is negativity involved?
One family member doesn’t believe the circumstances of death are natural.
Others might argue, but that one persists.
Wouldn’t you know it?
It’s normally the type of person Johnny would avoid who brings this belief to the forefront.
In his case, it was my father.
He believed something was amiss regarding our beloved Johnny’s fate.
An autopsy was called for.
Let me preface this with some necessary information.
I come from a family history of health care workers.
My grandfather was a professor of bacteriology.
My grandmother a nurse.
My mother and father nurses.
My twin brother and I worked in health care for a time, as well.
It was nothing whatsoever to watch heart surgery while eating lasagna back when I was a kid.
Therefore, when my just-turned-eleven year old brother and I asked to attend.
It did not occur to my parents to demur.
Death is part of life after all.
Mind you, my parents and twin believed in hellfire and damnation.
I knew better; still do.
But again, don’t mind me if your beliefs differ.
It takes all kinds to make the world go round; but even if one doesn’t believe in an afterlife.
I think it can be acknowledged by all that the body is just a shell after it’s left behind.
The autopsy was fascinating to myself and my brother.
The veterinarian wasn’t as sure.
She asked my father if it was alright.
Then, when they both put Johnny up on the table.
She nervously peered past her mask at the two of us.
Lurking quietly in the corner, eyes curious, if a bit red rimmed.
When given the go ahead by my father, she began.
Oh yes, some tears were shed.
But focusing on the intricacies of the shell.
Of the wonders evolution, God, or the Universe, called into being to create this lovely Golden Retriever.
The one called Johnny.
It kept those tears at bay.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
We found out that day that what was so lovely on the outside of our friend.
Not our property, mind you.
For no creature belongs to another.
Was also lovely and something to celebrate on the inside.
My father’s questions were resolved.
He believed Johnny had been poisoned.
He did not wish to believe that nature could be responsible for the death.
Of such a fine friend.
But nature was responsible; a defect in his thoracic diaphragm.
A simple sheet of muscle that for the purposes of this true story.
Was necessary for Johnny to breathe.
When he was on his glorious run, looking over his shoulder at me.
Laughing, as dogs do.
This sheet of muscle failed, and he died.
It was quick.
They always call that a blessing, don’t they?
He was a good friend; one of the very few I possessed.
He was a true friend.
I could do no wrong in his eyes, and in his opinion, I never would.
I would always be a good person.
I would always do well.
And, as Johnny laughed with me, but never at me.
I vowed that soo would I endeavor to laugh with others, but never at them.
Many would call Johnny a mere dog.
Bred for loyalty, expressive eyes, affection, and any number of other traits.
I don’t buy it.
Johnny believed in me when no one else; not my brother, father, mother.
Or any other fellow human would.
Because of him, I cultivated a belief in myself I would not have otherwise.
The wider you cast your net for teachers.
The more teachers come.
The lesson here is simple.
Never rely on human beings alone to teach you humanity.