There could not be any two human beings who are so different from each other, than my parents. Dad can be alone, working for hours, days and even weeks on end. Mom needs company. Dad likes traveling and talking to new people. Mom would rather stay at home. Dad is the most focused person on earth. His incredible ability to focus is the reason why he has written more than 20 books in the past five years and edited two Bibles, one in English and one in Spanish in less than a decade. Mom, well she is sort of scatter-brained, in the sense making her a great mom because she is always thinking of new plans to do, whether it’s going to the river for a swim, making fish for dinner, or visiting grandma. Let’s just say, it never gets boring when she is around. Dad is a dog lover. Mom is not, or so she says.
Dad and my sister Lisa (the dog-lover of my siblings) had been trying to get us to have a dog in the house for the longest time, but of course, my Mom had put her foot down on numerous occasions and never allowed it to happen. We had a series of dogs beforehand, which would last a matter of months in our house before Mom shipped them off to her brother’s home in the country. There was no talking Mom into getting a dog, no matter how many times Dad and Lisa would try. Until one day, the two dog-lovers of the family left on a trip to the USA and my two little brothers, Mom and I were left to take care of the household.
One of those Saturdays in which the house was cleaned up, lunch had already been served, and there was not much else to do, we decided to put on a movie. The movie we chose was I Am Legend starring Will Smith. It is a terribly tragic film about everyone on earth dying of a virus. By the end of the film, Will Smith and his girl, a German Shepherd were left all alone. This dog was so faithful to him that it was heart-wrenching. She was the only one he had left. His whole family died with the virus. The power of this dog’s character in the movie was so strong that by the time the credits rolled, the four of us, (even Mom) had decided we desperately needed a dog, a girl dog. Five minutes after the movie ended, we were all in the car heading for the pet store. They had just sold a litter of golden retriever puppies, and there was only one girl puppy left, presumably the only one left because she may have been the runt. The first thing she did when she saw us was pounce from side to side in a playful way. My brother Russell and I knew as soon as we saw her trying to play with us that she was the one we wanted. There was no questioning it, no looking for another pet store. We took her immediately home in a little cardboard box. We named her Lucy after a character in one of our favorite book series called the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. When Dad and Lisa arrived at the airport, we had wrapped Lucy up in a box with a ribbon on it to surprise them. Were they ever surprised! This time the dog-lovers had nothing to do with the new household dog. Mom had bought her. Hence, making her safe from getting shipped off to my uncle’s house.
Lucy lived a good three years, and then one Christmas got terribly sick. The Christmas festivities were not enough to calm the pain we each felt for Lucy. On Christmas Eve, we all went to visit my Aunt and Uncle’s farm for the weekend, but my Brother Russell (Bubba) stayed home to take care of her. She was bleeding internally, non-stop. Bubba nursed her back to health. Even on Christmas night, he did not celebrate; he slept by her side and made sure to give her the medications every 10 minutes. She was risking dying of dehydration. God answered our prayers that Christmas and Lucy was back to her normal playful self in a matter of weeks.
We had a beautiful, healthy dog for another 3 or 4 years until one day we discovered a tumor growing in her forehead. We went to the vet, and he said it was the result of a tooth infection. We treated her “tooth infection,” but the tumor kept growing. I soon got engaged to Stephen, and after only a month of engagement, we were married. Only two months after our wedding, we had to put Lucy to sleep because the tumor had overtaken her face and her eye was now bulging out. No amount of prayer or medication healed her this time. Lucy had been with us for seven and a half years, but it was time for her to go.
Fortunately, I was not in town when we decided to put her to sleep. I don’t think I could have gone through with it. When I got back home, there was no Lucy wagging her tail and whining with joy to greet me at the door. I was heartbroken, to say the least. I asked my dad, why it was that God did not make dogs live as long as humans? Why was their life so short in comparison? My dad told me the Lord designed it that way so we could have a practice round. In life, we will have to face the death of loved ones at some point, and sometimes God gives us a dog first just so we are more prepared for the time when we will have to say goodbye to our parents, to our siblings, or to our spouse.
For weeks, at night when I would go to bed, thoughts of Lucy would cross my mind and it would send me into inconsolable tears. Stephen did his best to calm me, but even his embrace and kind words could not make the sadness go away. Until one night, when the thought of Lucy came into my mind again, and I was about to burst into my usual array of nightly tears, I made up my mind to do something different this time. Instead of wallowing in my pain, I began to honestly thank the Lord for the time Lucy had been here with us. I thanked Him for letting us have such a beautiful dog in the first place. I thanked Him because He was taking better care of her than I ever did. I thanked Him because of how I imagined her right at that minute. I pictured her running freely through fresh green grass and beautiful flowers, happy and free. Instead of being confined to our small apartment in a very polluted city. She was a happy dog in my dreams; happier than she ever was here. That night the sadness left me. And every single night after that, when sad thoughts crept in, I would do the same thing. I would kill the wounds with gratefulness, until one day they were all gone.
Thank you for being a part of our extended family and for partnering with us through the trials and joys in this journey of life.
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