Thursday, April 30, 2015
As with any good story, there's always a lesson to be learned. There have been many lessons in my life; some obvious and some not so clear. The lessons I have learned (and am still learning) from my sweet ol' pup, Shadow, are transparent.
His legs now wobble and his back has become swayed. He moves slowly, yet still follows me from place to place. And when commanded to stay, he will have none of it, for he is my little shadow. To look at him one would not guess his age. His coat still shines blue black and is soft as silk. It flows in the wind, Majestic. There is something magical about his old age, as if his years transcend time, for in him there is much wisdom. His eyes meet mine and I know.
Like a lion's mane, his coat is his crowning glory. Though, I still find the cursed tumbleweeds of fur floating about. I hate the tumbleweeds. And yet I love the tumbleweeds. His face is splattered with patches of gray which are now highlighted by his wise sweet old eyes. Eyes that look straight into mine, into my heart. He is forever watching, forever loving.
Shadow's health is declining, and little by little my sweet ol' pup is deteriorating. He is now a senior. Where did the time go? It doesn't seem possible that it was fourteen years ago that I gathered the little furball into my arms and took him home to be mine. Now, like any senior, he has a pill box filled with daily prescriptions. And his new food turns him away. My heart breaks. He looks so sad. He watches me as I watch him through the glass door. Our eyes meet and somehow I know. I know I am reading the last chapters of his sweet little life.
He stands sniffing the air, his head up and his fur flowing in the breeze. He turns and looks back at me before taking another step. "I am here," I whisper through the glass door. His legs move unsteadily as he steps off the patio. I watch him, he turns and watches me once again. The bounce in his step is gone. Days of chasing balls and going for walks have passed away. I wonder what pleases him now. He turns and stares at me, watching me and I know.
As I move about the kitchen he slowly walks out of sight. But when I open the door, he is not there. I call for him but he can no longer hear without my whistling or a clap. We communicate through body language now. I slip into my shoes. And after searching the yard I find him on the driveway. He is standing next to my car, waiting. He looks longingly at me and I know.
Car rides used to make him sick when he was tiny, but as he grew he came to love them. It was our time together. He would breathe in the fresh air through the open window, his head held high, his legs strong. We'd drive to the walking trails. He loved those walks. I loved them too. As I look at him standing there next to my car my heart aches. The last few car rides I've helped him into the car and instead of standing and pawing for an open window he laid down. Now, he looks at me with his head tilted and I know.
This morning as I helped him off the high bed (which I helped him onto last night) he was slow to move. I steadied his legs as he got down. I walked to the stairs and called to him with a wave. He knows me well. He walked to me, looked below and hesitated. I reached for his collar and we began slowly down the stairs together.
Once down a few steps, my son's new puppy scampered up to Shadow. Shadow hesitated. The puppy jumped nibbling at his legs. The puppy is a nibbler and a nuisance to my sweet old friend. I shewed the nibbler and said to Shadow, "You've got this, I've got you." I continued holding onto his collar and patted his head. Once again together we headed down the stairs.
At the bottom, I hugged his neck, burying my face in his plush fur, "You have NOT been replaced Shadow. And I will protect you. Don't give up on me. I still need you my friend."
He licks my face and I know.
As I type these words, his head rests on my toes, with an occasional lick. I cry and pray, "Heal him if you will Lord. But I know he is old and will not live forever. How can I do it Lord? How can let go of the one who has known me so well; the one whom I rescued, but truly rescued me?"
I can't bare to say the words, to think the inevitable. I pray again, this time asking for more time. I don't know how long we have together but I want MORE. Tears run hot down my cheeks. How will I know when it's time? How will I then be able to say good-bye? I pray for strength and that the darkness would not swallow me up when that time comes. Saying goodbye is never easy. It hurts, and dare I say what many know? Sometimes losing a pet can be one of the deepest sorrows of all. So I pray some more. I cry. My toes take in the warmth of his fur. I hang on to the moment, wishing it to last forever.
And then I remember the words, "You've got this, I've got you."
This time they are meant for me, and I know.
Shadow's story, our story is coming to an end.
Pets are a gift from God and they teach us the unconditional love He has for us.
They bring great joy AND with it, great sorrow.
Though we rescue them, they often rescue us.
And though I am Shadow's master, he watches over me.
And just like God, Shadow finds great joy simply by being with me.
He longs to walk with me, so does the Lord.
That God has taught me many lessons through the life of my sweet ol' friend, Shadow.
And I also know that when I can't do the impossible,
God will continue to hold me, whispering to me,
"You've got this, BECAUSE I've got you."
Thank you Lord for the lessons you've taught me through my sweet companion, Shadow.