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Monday, October 6, 2014

Better to have loved...



This isn’t the post I had planned for this week. Not. At. All.


Maybe I’ll get back to that one later. Instead, I need to tell a story...to a dying dog, but you can listen in...


Venga came into our lives 12 years ago. A tiny black and white canine blob that fit in the palm of our hands. With eyes that spoke to our hearts...and still do.



Yesterday I sat beside her, quietly watching to see if she was still breathing. When she picked her head up and looked at me with those eyes, I knew it was time to tell her her story one more time...to walk with her down a path we both knew so well.


“Once upon a time there was a puppy who was abandoned in a cactus field in Mexico.”


Tears begin filling my eyes...


“I was sick in bed at the time, but I could hear you whimpering outside my window, and I knew that if I didn’t get up and get you, you would be dead by morning...the wild animals would devour you during the night.”


Why are you looking at me like that? With eyes full of adoration?


“So Daddy and I went up into the field and we got you and we brought you back to the apartment, knowing that we would be forced to find a new home. No Dogs Allowed.”


Hot tears are now flowing down my cheeks as I struggle to go on...


“We found the perfect house, just for you! It had a chain-link fence around the yard. You counted it your duty to run along the fence and bark at the herds of goats and cows that traveled down our dusty road, day after day. Nothing escaped your attention. You took your job seriously to protect us. Because you loved us.”


And I love you now, silly girl, more than I ever said I would again...


“You brought such smiles to our faces! You filled the hole in our hearts that was ripped open when we followed God to Mexico. When we said goodbye to everything we loved. Family, friends, pets. We convinced ourselves it was the price we had to pay. But oh how it hurt to pay it…


“Remember Mexico? You loved living there! Our hikes through the high desert mountains where you could run forever? Warm, freshly made tortillas? Every time daddy brought some home for lunch you would jump for joy. And rain? You hate rain! You would sulk inside during the entire rainy season.


“Every year you traveled back to the States with us. Perched on Jacki’s lap for 3,000 miles, you reigned over each trip. You didn’t care that there were dangers and hardships, that people thought we were crazy for traveling with you. You just loved us and wanted to be with us, wherever we were. Always.”


Oh God, it’s never “always” is it?


“And then we moved back to NC and your two best pals walked into our lives; Paco and Buddy. From the start, you made it clear that you were the Alpha Dog. But you would share them with us as long as they, and we, remembered this.


“Paco became your “companion in sin”...both of you forever looking for ways to take off and ramble through the streams and woods. Somehow you knew that he had been abused as a puppy. And that he needed you, more than us.”  


And now Paco is lying next to you, guarding you, nudging you, whining for you to get up and play. He still needs you…and so do we.


I want to lie down next to her...put my arms around her shaking body. Hold her again like I did when she was just a puppy.


But I don’t. Instead, I caress her with my words…


“I love you, Venga. You’ve been the best of dogs. You can go Home now...it’s okay.”


Sobbing, with my eyes raised to Heaven, I cry out silently, “No! It’s not okay! I hate sin and death and separation! I don’t want to say goodbye! Not to Family. Not to friends. Not to pets. Not. Ever. Again.”


And then I hear it...a voice I have come to know so well...whispering into my breaking heart...


“That’s why I came.”

*****************


Should we have left her in that cactus field all those years ago? Our lives would have been easier. And cheaper. And quieter.


But emptier. So much emptier. For when we choose to love something, we pay a price. But we gain so much more.


Venga is a gift from God to us. He knew that she needed us. But more importantly, we needed her. And we still do.


*******************

Update-- In the days since I wrote this, Venga has made a comeback! She is still with us, though the vet has told us it's only a matter of time before the tumor kills her.

In the meantime, we give thanks...for the gift of more time...