Zach Skow saw a dead man when he looked in the mirror. His eyes were turning yellow, his skin was sallow, and he felt completely emptied physically and spiritually. After years of nonstop drinking and partying, Skow ended up in the hospital with liver failure.
But his story doesn’t end there. In order to be eligible for a liver transplant, Skow had to be six months sober. He packed himself away in his family’s cabin in Tehachapi, which he shared with his three dogs. They were always there for him, not seeing his haggard appearance or all the bad choices he’d made.
“When I was going through withdrawal I couldn’t tell what was real or what was fake,” he says. “Having the dogs there with me, having the dogs touched me, helped me immensely, helped me feel connected.”
He was getting sicker, but his time with the dogs was giving him a new reason to live. He began taking short walks, and one morning happened upon another walker. His initial instinct was to avoid anyone else, preferring to hide, but the old man on the trail took an interest in his dogs, and they got started talking.
This man turned out to be Skow’s neighbor. It was his first day on the trail since his wife had died; together they would walk the trail every day. Skow realized Wendell was going through hard times, too. He felt empathy for Wendell, and soon that empathy grew so he could feel it for himself, as well.
Skow’s hikes got longer, and his body grew stronger. He’s been sober for seven years now, far longer than the waiting time for a liver transplant. The miracle is, he doesn’t need one anymore. Something about the power of love, we think, helped heal Skow.
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