Written by Linda Cinquegrana
Sometimes when God tells you to go, you don’t know what to expect, but you go.
Lily and I headed out on a journey to the tip of Long Island at the request of Barbara, whose father has ALS. This would not be a regular visit as we would be spending several days with them at a home they rented by the beach. Barbara had seen the article about the Comfort Dogs in Orlando and was curious what they do. She felt that Lily could be beneficial to her dad, trying to give him and make him feel a different kind of love, with no filters or judgment as a dog can do. But, most of all, keeping him distracted with nice thoughts and make him
smile and not think about his condition. This was our mission.
Lily and I arrived on a stormy, rainy afternoon. Immediately it was clear Paolo was strong in the legs but had difficulty with his arms and speech, but the joy in seeing Lily was apparent. We sat down to an amazing Italian lunch and I explained what the Comfort Dogs are about and what they do. Thankfully Barbara was able to translate, as her mother does not speak English and her father understands and speaks only a little. (I wish I had taken Italian in school not French) I also presented them with a stuffed comfort dog which Paolo smiled and cuddled with his neck.
We then went into town for a walk and they got to see first hand the affect Lily has in a public place. We returned to the house, while we were preparing dinner in the kitchen, Paolo and Lily discovered a special way they could connect…Paolo sat in the living room and Lily laid at his feet. He took off his sandals and began to pet her and smile. Words cannot describe the joy on his face or the joy Barbara and her mother felt.
The next morning we started what would become our walks with Paolo by the water and conversations on the bench. I also discovered if I let Lily walk right next to him he could brush his hand on her head and back. As they walked he would say “my friend Lily”. When we sat on the bench to rest and look out on the water, he shared with me how he wanted to give up and close his eyes forever. I told him it was not his choice, but it was God’s. He smiled and nodded. We talked about all the joy and happiness that he still had to experience and why it was important that he was still here. When we returned, breakfast was waiting in the garden, and through translation Barbara’s mother shared that when they were getting ready for bed the night before, Paolo was cuddling the stuffed comfort dog. She noticed a lady bug on the dog’s head. This means good luck, and she was filled with joy.
There were many moments of joy and sharing in those two days, but none will be more special than our walks and talks by the water. On our last morning before leaving, Paolo shared that his time with Lily and me will be “forever in his heart for all of his life”. I agree my time with Paolo and his family will be forever in my heart as well.
You never know where God will take you or what will happen when you go. Just go and let God take care of the rest. Through Lily, I am Blessed to have met Paolo and I have been changed forever.