Monday I shared with both the staff and the Session that we had to "put to sleep" our dog Ginger last Friday. She was close to fourteen years old. For the past year, her cataracts had been getting worse to the point that she could no longer see. When we talked to the veternarian about surgery, he advised against it given her age. It would be a very difficult procedure for her. Her hearing was also going. She had arthritis, but in recent days she just seemed "lost." On Thursday she woke up confused and would not budge. She howled for the first time ever when I tried to move her. She weighs more than seventy pounds and I had to pick her up to take her outside in our front yard. I sat there next to her on the grass at 3:30 a.m. wondering what we were going to do. The next morning I called and made an appointment with out veterinarian. We made the tough decision that "it was time." Making Ginger suffer any more was not the best thing to do. It was a very difficult morning at the vet, even though they were as helpful as could be expected.
After Ginger was gone, I found myself wondering why this affected me so much. In my calling, I am around dying people quite often. This was not a human person but our dog. Yet, she was as much a part of our family as any non-human could be. Our kids grew up with her. One of our favorite pictures is of Mason sitting on the hill in our old backyard hugging a baby Ginger.
I am coming to understand that saying good-bye to her involved grieving the loss of a whole period in our family life. It is very painful. Yet, I also began to realize how much pain is a part of life. I don't like the pain, but I am grateful that God gave us this wonderful companion to be part of our lives. So, I am learning to live into the pain of life when it comes. This may take a while.
Prayer for Today
Loving God, you give us relationships with people, and even animals. We know that when we face loss, we grieve because we care. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to care, even if it causes us pain in the end. And remind us that in your kingdom, the last word is not death, but new life. We pray this in name of Jesus - our Risen Savior. Amen.