And Now There’s Just Gracie

Dear Reader, this is a modified version of an article which appeared in my newspaper column in December of 2018.  It’s one of my favorites.

My husband told me the news at school.  With tears in his eyes he told me at lunch.  He’d brought in pizza for a celebration for my temporary third grade class.  I am a professional. I’ve also had much worse news delivered to me than was delivered that day.

I made it through class all afternoon.  I made it down the hallways and out the elementary school door.  I made it to my car. And once inside my car I shut the door and sobbed.  I sobbed all the way home. I know Sully was just a dog. I’m not silly. I didn’t lose a child or a spouse or a parent.  I lost a dog. I get it.

On the drive home from school which, truthfully, I don’t remember, I relived some of my greatest life moments with Sully Dog.  The way he would cock his head left and then right and look at me with those beautiful, dark, ornery eyes. The way he loved me unconditionally.  The way he would sit in a lawn chair on the front porch or the back deck and watch me inside the house. The way he would patrol our property or chase dragon flies for hours around the pond.  

I loved his energy, his humor, and his enthusiasm for life.  And how could I ever forget his corn-cob-carrying antics? And then he was gone.  Just like that.

It wasn’t particularly cold outside, but the minute I exited my car at home, Gracie threw herself up against my body just shaking and shaking and shaking.  Gracie, Sully’s sister, and I cried together. She’d only ever spent one night away from her brother. Now she would spend many, many more. I told her I loved her and apologized for not spending more time with she and Sully since I’d started teaching school again.

Regrets are always difficult to live with and I even blamed myself.  Maybe if I hadn’t been working, maybe Sully wouldn’t have gotten hit.  But in reality, my tears weren’t just for Sully. And in reality, perhaps I still blame myself for other things in life too.  

If I had done just one thing differently that July 17th maybe we wouldn’t have been at that point at that time.  Maybe we wouldn’t have gotten hit. Maybe my daughter wouldn’t be paralyzed, wouldn’t have to spend her whole life being excluded and fighting so hard for what the rest of us simply take for granted.  

There are times when I don’t think I can take one more negative thing that Satan tries to throw our way.  I am not confused about the enemy. I have zero doubt God wants to bring me good. And I have zero doubts Satan wants the complete opposite.  There are times when I don’t think my heart can take one more bad thing happening and for a brief few moments I am tempted to chuck it all.

My husband, son, and I sat at the dinner table.  We pretended to eat. All of our faces were puffy and red from crying.  We talked it through. We reminded one another that even an unexpected death of a dog is still worth it for all the love, life, and laughter our Sully Dog brought to us for the 2 ½ years we had him.  And that’s the thing about pain. The reason we hurt is because we’ve loved, and even though we hurt, are we possibly willing to go through life without loving? Of course not. Of course not!

So Gracie Girl sleeps in the middle of the doggie bed now and seems a bit lost as to how she should spend her days.  My son, who was truly Sully’s favorite, has received yet another lesson in his short life about heartache, perseverance, and moving on.  And I am reminded that even at those moments where I just want to chuck it all, I can’t . . . And I won’t!

Love wins the day.  Love is always worth it.  And even though earthly pain wears us down, it doesn’t all end like it feels today!  That’s a hope I’m willing to stake my forever on!

Until the next Wednesday the Lord allows, Dear Reader.