by Sandy Kirby Quandt
Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. Theodor Geisel. Better known as Dr. Seuss.
Bear was two months shy of his fifth birthday last August when we received the news he had one month to live. The diagnosis of lymphoblastic sarcoma came two weeks before Pilot and I set out with Bear on a 10-day vacation through Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. By my calculations, that meant Bear might not make it back home.
This past month the cancer aggressively attacked. On Friday, March 31, 2017 the cancer won, and after a heart-wrenching decision to spare him anymore pain, Bear was euthanized.
When our vet first mentioned the word cancer, I pleaded with God to take away the cancer and spare Bear — and Pilot and me — from this early, unexpected death of our beloved dog.
To say Pilot, or I, either one slept that night, and did not shed a flood of tears as we struggled with God’s will in this situation, would be a lie. The same would hold true now as we struggle to move on without our pup and close companion. We’ve been through the death of our dogs before. We know the tears will continue to flow and the pain will resurface raw as the last time we held him, especially during the former “routines” we shared with Bear.
Routines like waking up, and not seeing his face and wagging tail to greet us. Not having him to go get the paper or take that early morning walk with. Taking rides in the car and not being able to tell him to “hold on” as we turn left into our neighborhood. Coming home and not finding him waiting at the front door, or watching how excited he got when Pilot’s car pulled into the driveway after work.
The list of missed routines goes on, and so will the hurt. I think what makes it especially difficult is the fact this is the first time in twenty-five years Pilot and I don’t have a dog.
After we received the sad news of Bear’s diagnosis, we overloaded him with his favorite treats. One of Pilot’s co-workers made special heart-shaped doggie cookies for Bear when she heard the news, and another gave Bear multiple bags of chicken jerky treats. That stuff was like crack cocaine for him.
One of Bear’s favorite things to do was go to Dairy Queen, drive up to the window, show the worker inside he was there, and receive his puppy cup of soft-serve vanilla ice cream. While we sat on the floor in the vet’s office last Friday and talked with him about Bear, before Bear received his injections, I mentioned we’d taken Bear to get a puppy cup three days earlier. As soon as I said, “puppy cup”, Bear’s head swiveled my direction. He knew exactly what puppy cup meant.
Like Pilot said the morning after Bear died; we won’t need to spell anything now to keep Bear from knowing what we’re talking about. He was one smart pup.
During the beginning of our trip last September I worried and I fretted.
What if Bear died while we were on the road? Would we find a veterinarian? What would we do with his body?
While I what-ifed, I left God out of the equation. I prayed Bear would make it home, but I feared he wouldn’t. I had a lot of trouble leaving the situation in God’s hands.
The Saturday before we left on our trip I read a devotional that should have comforted me immediately, but it took over a week on the road before I internalized what I read, grabbed hold of the truth, constantly reminded myself of it, and hung on with all my might.
The devotion asked these four questions:
Is Jesus with me during this situation?
Has Jesus handled difficult situations for me in the past?
Can Jesus handle this situation?
Will the outcome of this situation affect my salvation?
These are four excellent questions to ask ourselves no matter what difficult situation we face. These are questions I continue to ask as Pilot and I seek God’s comfort and peace.
Bear didn’t die as quickly as the vet predicted and his longevity is a puzzlement. As with all the dogs we shared our hearts and home with, Pilot and I value each and every second we had with Bear. We did everything we could to make his final days as pleasant as possible, and we try to remember … don’t cry because Bear’s life is over, but smile because he was in our lives.
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“… he will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:4 (NLT)
I wish you well,
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One of my posts is scheduled to appear on Inspire a Fire April 4, 2017. Please stop by and read it.