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November 12, 2019

Giving Hope When It Once Seemed Impossible

by Keith

First and foremost, this book was very moving and came with an ending that made me cry- I explained the ending to my wife on the phone right after finishing the book, and she too cried. Again, a very moving story and different than most of the other books in the NLK9 Library considering all the personal lives involved with the star of the book. :) (the amazing service dog Napal)

I related right away to Jason in the story because he was suffering from emotional, physical, and mental pain that any human being can understand regardless of where you come from. I also related to the fact that in an instant his life had changed by getting injured/ paralyzed from the waist down and no longer having his legs/ use of them. I related it to being emotionally and mentally imprisoned as I am (the physical part of incarceration is but a smaller part of the anguish I've ever felt while in prison). To be without any sense of hope and feeling as if your life is no longer going to have any type of signicifance and before long you are amongst people that love and care about you to no end, yet you cannot help but wonder if its because they feel sorry for you. Jason Morgan had more fight in him than most of us and still he reached rock bottom as the strongest do. Then, I began to realize that although it appeared he had lost so much in his life (use of his legs, a long career in the military/ SOAR team, and other things he dreamed of accomplishing), he was paired with a black labrador named "Napal" who right away gave him back all of those things and so much more. Whether it's a dog placed in our lives when we are at our lowest or another person that sees past physical/ mental or emotional condition to lead you back to the surface, things happen for reasons beyond our complete understanding. 

My everyday life now revolves around Delta, another significant form that was placed in my own life to help me find my way where I needed it- even though I'd changed much of who I was once. I would be lying to myself if I said that I woke up everyday a brand new/ restored human being. Nepal gave his life to Jason Morgan in the sense that he did more than be a service dog for him physically. It was as if he had been absorbing all the bad things that were causing Jason to suffer like his body aches, nightmares, and all without condition whatsoever. 

In the end, Napal (at the age of 6) is diagnosed with cancerous tumors throughout his body and Jason has to make the decision to let him suffer or euthanize him - he does the latter. This is the part that made me cry. Our dogs take on so many different roles in our lives and if not for NLK9's and my own journey with the program, I doubt I would have ever understood. There's a "last goodbye" photo in the book where Napal finds the strength to stand up next to Jason in his wheelchair and kiss him goodbye before they lay Napal out in the sunshine on a blanket (he loved laying out in the sunshine). I had so many thoughts going on- how unfair it was for Napal's life to be so suddenly short, but I also thought about how Napal willingly sacrificed his life for Jason- he gave hope where it once seemed impossible.

Two years from now, actually less than that, I'm going to be standing up at Delta's graduation day (there's no doubt in my mind that he will graduate) and I know that it's going to feel like I too am losing him. I don't know what I'm going to say then, but at this point I know that in his own right, Delta is my Napal and will touch more lives than just my own. In many ways already, Delta has saved me from those days and moments where emotionally and mentally I don't feel as strong or confident as I want to be, but at the same time he's reminded me that it's important to let myself cry and depend on those who love me when he's moved on in his life role for another human being that will need saving from a place of darkness. He has already given me strength in many ways. Like Jason Morgan, Delta has also taught me how to treat others/ family the best I can. Don't tell anyone at NLK9's I cried like a baby :) Just kidding! Great book! 


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