“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” I John 4:8 (NIV)
December 5, 2014 we celebrated Max, our four-legged family member’s 12th birthday. Unfortunately, part of the celebration involved a seizure. We were used to these because they began when he was one and one half years old. Everyone in the family knew what to do because when a 100 pound dog has a seizure and loses function of his back legs – well, let’s just say it takes more than one person to help him get outside until he finds his legs again.
December 16th began as a normal day. However, around noon, it looked like Max was going to have another seizure. Again, nothing out of the ordinary as he had them regularly most of his life. However, this time, he never fully went into one and never fully came out. Two hours later I could tell something was drastically wrong. The vet told us to come in immediately. The only comfort I had was that only his organs were still functioning…neurologically he was already gone along with his ability to walk. Those beautiful, soulful eyes that looked up at me with trust his whole life were now vacant. Three hours later we returned home without one member of our family, the one who had loved with his whole heart his entire life.
Walking into the house without him was terrible. Not having my four-legged child to take care of was…lonely! Despite the five people who still lived here, the house felt dead. I told my husband that as much as I missed him, I knew I had loved him with no regrets and we had given him a great life. I could let him go knowing that I loved with my whole heart.
I realize that when many people lose their four-legged family members, they cannot bear to get another and start the process of saying goodbye all over again. Since the odds of our pets outliving us usually aren’t in our favor, if we choose to be pet owners we will probably say goodbye multiple times throughout our lives. However, I have too much love to give and when I don’t have someone to pour it into, the outcome is…Lonely! I don’t want to suffocate my husband or children by smothering them and clipping their wings of independence, so we started looking for another forever family member very soon. I knew if we got a puppy, I was looking at a lot more work than the easy relationship of my 12-year-old companion, but I also knew the hard work in the beginning would reap rewards for many years to come.
The main point of today’s post isn’t profound. Instead it’s just this simple message: God is love. When we’re His children, we love. When we love without regrets and the hard times come (and they will), it’s easier to move forward and love again.
We ended up getting a new puppy, not as a replacement for Max but as another opportunity to love. With this decision, we have chosen less sleep, more activity, and much more busyness. We have also chosen to fill our hearts with love again for another living creature that is totally dependent upon us. We have made the choice to love again without regrets. More than likely I will outlive this little guy as well. But if I do my job right, when it’s time to say goodbye (hopefully many years from now) I will again grieve with peace, knowing I did my job and loved with my whole heart.
© Cheri Swalwell 2014