“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
~ Anatole France
As we now approach a week without our girl (first week, first month, first Christmas, first hike…all these will carry their own bittersweet moments), we still find ourselves muddling along, feeling our way through the cold corridors of loss, gravitating towards brief glimpses of light.
Sometimes we can find the hint of a smile in the tears, other times we just stand and hold each other gently. Sometimes a wave of emptiness stops us in mid-stride, like a gust of damp wind.
But through this very hard week, the kindnesses from friends and strangers have soothed our hearts and at times, we have felt utterly and tenderly held.
“… be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” Luke 6:36
Thank you for sharing wisdom and your own experiences with sorrow and loss. I bow my head, tears slipping down my cheeks, before the image of the thoughtful soul searching that stirred so many messages. How many of you plumbed the dark recesses of your own pain to offer a word to lighten ours.
When we offer up a piece of our heart – no matter how meager we feel it may be – we are knowingly or unknowingly responding to a force of love greater than ourselves. We are making room for the same to be returned to us, when we need it most.
“Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down,
shaken together to make room for more, and running over.” Luke 7:38
Like so many of your furry friends, our sweet Caledonia was truly a gift from God for us and for everyone she met. We had so many wonderful adventures together.
I remember my frustrations trying to handle her as a pup. I thought she was stubborn, wild and uncontrollable. Shelley, our dog trainer (turned dear friend), just laughed, then helped me see differently. “Oh, she’s just a confident and enthusiastic golden.”
And she was. Gradually, I learned that having an obedient dog didn’t mean doing things ‘my way’; but learning how to see things ‘her way’ and then working out a compromise. I didn’t want to stifle that beautiful spirit, so instead, taught her in ways that allowed it full expression, yet kept her safe. We gave her freedom to romp and be true to her own nature, within constraints.
And in return, she taught us so many life lessons on being human: she lived with unrestrained exuberance, held no fear of rejection, was present and found joy in each moment, ran with utter abandon and glee, ate heartily, forgave instantly, bore no grudges, exuded kindness and compassion, loved without reservation or expectation, trusted her instincts.
She rolled in the snow/grass/mud or flopped into puddles when the mood hit her. She loved water as much as she loved snow and swam until she was exhausted, returning often to shore to encourage us to join her play.
Oh yes…and she taught us the value of play with a reproachful look when we did not immediately leap to join her.
She napped often and dreamed with wild abandon.
To tear her in two would be to expect her to choose between food and welcoming a loved one at the door.
Without fail, she demonstrated that being with her tribe was the most important thing in her life.
She adored people (especially Grammie and Grampie; Nina and Jeff), ignored no one, honoured those she encountered with her undivided attention and treated them like they were the most important people in her life at that moment. She knew how to be a silent friend who sits and waits through the tears.
No wonder we love her so deeply.
I can only pray we, too, can become better people through her example.
Today, I am so grateful for Caledonia, but also for:
281. So many gifts of kindness …cards, rolls, jam, donuts, muffins, flowers, invites to supper…
282. Solace and wise words from friends and strangers
283. Understanding gestures from those who know animal-loss can be as sharp-edged as human-loss…and that while love has many shapes, when given freely, it does not differentiate between them.
284. A child’s offering: artwork and a dance to bring smiles to our faces
285. Phone calls from friends and family
286. The wealth of our beautiful memories…we will continue to tease individual threads, one by one, from the tapestry of time
287. A long, quiet walk together, when we have recently spent so much time apart
288. Shared strength and God’s grace shining through the cracks and condolences
289. Chance meetings in a crowded bookstore (Anne and Debbie, it was wonderful to meet you both).
290. The wonderful man I married…his heart, his strength, his utter devotion and tender care…and a beautiful golden girl to remember.
I am so blessed.