Writing this feels a little like walking to the guillotine. Honestly, I’ve never done it, but I’m sure my physical reaction would be similar.
My eyes hurt from the unchecked tears, and I can’t breathe. My skin feels like it’s suffering a thousand papercuts.
It’s death, just the slow-stepped version of it.
Our dog died Christmas morning. That sounds too neat. Too cut and dry.
Okay, so here’s this: my everything died Christmas morning. Not just my dog, but my past, my security, my understanding of this world.
My mistaken hope in what I can see and hold with my hands.
Roxie. Her name was Roxie. And we had her for thirteen years. A lifetime compact in a small body who loved me, unconditionally. I don’t know how to do that, frankly. I don’t know how to love anything so complete and pure. But she did. She taught me that.
I’m still learning.
The worst is maybe at night where I’ve forgotten who I am and what this feels like until my eyes open, and for one unfiltered second, everything is as it should be, until it isn’t. There are no good morning kisses. No early breakfast and bathroom break. No sharp barks at her bowl and the back door to inform me of the former. There’s no her. There’s no holding her and the way she’d grab my face with her paws and kiss me, and I swear that kiss could heal my heart.
I’m not always so good at living. I’m not always so good at peopling. I doubt myself and play the reel tape of all my mistakes, and Roxie was like having an assistant coach who’d kick me in the shins and tell me to stop being so hard on myself.
I guess my greatest fear is that I don’t know how to navigate something like that alone.
There’s a new phase on the horizon. It was inching in while Roxie was still here. My daughter is growing older and plays with her friends in the afternoon. My husband has a full time job. And then there’s me. I write. I do that. I’m not that bad at it, I guess. But the thing is, my computer never talks back. It won’t give me a hug. It won’t wake me out of my reverie with a sharp bark and a look.
I am now left to my own devices. The world is my oyster, as they say. And it seems to taste pretty rotten.
There are good things that have come from this. God has stripped me bare, and when He does that, I have to cling to Him. There is no other option. I can get angry. I can walk away. But when I do, I feel more alone than before.
He’s making me move, and my feet stumble towards him.
But there’s also the unknown, the bitter fact that there’s no Scriptural evidence that dogs go to heaven or anywhere pleasant for that matter. But I suppose, also, there’s no Scriptural evidence that they don’t. It would just be nice to have a window in the sky, a thin piece of glass I could press my nose against to watch her. To know she’s still safe and loved.
And that’s the thing. I’m no longer in control of that. And it hurts like hell.
So here’s something I’d like to say:
You were and are so beautiful. You prepared me for motherhood. You helped prepare my heart to love others. You saw so much. You witnessed who I was before Jesus and who I was after. You gave me so much love and friendship, and when I doubted who I was and what I have to offer, I could see it reflected back to me in your eyes. We all miss you. Daddy and me and Ava and Rocco. We’re peering down a tunnel that leads away from this place, this moment. And it’s hard to keep walking and leave you here. But I’m afraid I don’t have any other option. We’ve been really good to each other in our grief. And we’ll continue to love each other like we loved you.
I’m sorry, baby girl. I’m sorry I have no say in this. I’m sorry I couldn’t keep you here forever. And my biggest prayer is that all of this is quite all right. That somewhere, you’re kicking me in the shins again, you’re holding my face in your tiny paws, and you’re telling me everything is perfectly as it should be.
I love you.
Like I said, a thousand papercuts, all screaming for attention. And all I have in my back pocket is the wind on my face and a Father who heals all wounds.
I pray with all my heart, it is enough.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”