Today was a tough day. Although not a pet person myself, we are the proud owners of a 13 year old black lab named Cookie and a rescued miniature schnauzer. That is, until today. Today we said goodbye to our sweet lab Cookie. I'm not sure there is a way to prepare for things like this. The older children seem unaffected, but the two younger ones are dealing with their sadness. We all have cried and talked and remembered, and realize that life will pick up with a new normal. With time, our memories won't make us cry anymore, but for now, crying is OK. This was my first time helping to dig a grave. It was a quiet time. I followed my husband's lead. He led in quiet sadness. I was grateful that the Lord made me attentive to his quietness and aware of His actions. I'm not always so attentive. I noticed how he softly placed the dirt back into the grave. I thought that was tender. I did as he did. He only filled in the outside edges first. Me too. There was no stamping around on top to pack it down. No, he quietly and softly used one foot to tighten a little. Me too. We worked without much talking. He leading, me following. He noticed a stone beneath the old oak where we buried her. He probably noticed it before we ever started. He worked it up and place it at the head of her grave, glancing at me when he finished and glancing away. We cried in silence as we headed back to the house, he with the wheelbarrow and I with the tools. He thanked me for helping him. The two younger children have each had times that they've wanted to talk about Cookie with me. I'm glad they talk to me.
This whole experience has given me thoughts about life. When my son, Stephen, points out the little things that he will miss, I remind him that this experience can make us appreciate the little things. When he says he is so sad, we talk about how sadness is OK, and grieving is normal and different for everybody. When my daughter, Alayna, wants to do marathon TV and bounce around with energy to hide her feelings before crying and talking, I encourage her not to hide when she's sad and not to be embarrassed to cry in front of people. There is no shame in a soft heart. We get an opportunity to talk about the difference in people and animals when they die. We know that Cookie doesn't have a soul, so although it makes us sad that she won't be in heaven, we are so grateful they she isn't suffering anymore. We talk about how grateful we are that those we love, who trust Christ as Saviour, will be sharing heaven with us for eternity when we die. How amazing is our God that He would share His beautiful home with us and prepare a place for us when we leave this world?! No more sadness, no more tears, no more death.
Goodbyes are hard. Praise you Lord that for those who love you and accept you in faith, goodbye just means, "I'll see you in a little while."
We'll miss you, sweet Cookie. Thank you for the memories.