On January 8th, I said "goodbye" to my fierce protector. Victor was an amazing dog. He was my very first "baby". My first loss as a "parent". If you are a pet person, you get it. If you are not, well you might as well stop reading because you will probably roll your eyes a few times and think I am a lunatic. But if you hang on for a little while you will see some amazing God lessons through it all (and I DO BELIEVE God can use something as silly as a pet).
This loss hit me hard. And "hard" being an understatement! I knew Victor was most likely terminal a week or so before, and about a month before I knew he had become really sick. So I had my time to mourn and to come to grips with losing him. And it hit me harder then I even expected. I mourned every day before letting him go. I mean the ugly, couldn't catch your breath, crumpled on the floor, kids were a little worried kind of mourning. Probably more mourning then my kids should have seen. Unfortunately, Carter was home when I was on the phone making the final Vet appointment. And he witnessed first hand my uncontrollable sobbing and loss of emotions.
I mean after all, he was MY dog! He was only 9 years old. I purchased him and saved him from the pet store, I trained him, I took care of him, I LOVED him!
We had our moments of not liking the silly dog, when Evan first arrived. The moment you realize that your "baby" is only just a pet. A stinky, smelly, barks too much, eats too much, demands too much attention kind of pet. Nothing compares to your own children. This is certainly true. But over the years, after having kids, we all adapted and Victor truly became an essential part of my boys' lives. A part that ended way to soon. But along with loving, my children got to experience death. An experience I wasn't quite ready to allow them to experience. Fortunately, we haven't had to deal with death in our adult years, yet!
So when I found out that Vic may have terminal cancer, I prayed over him. I mean, lay my hands on his body, and full out prayed over him. I knew God could heal him, because God loved him and God loves me. I struggled with God over it. But through it all, I knew God was with me and He was going to be with me through it all and I had a deep feeling that he was going to teach me a few amazing things along the way! And He did. And He did heal him, just not in the way I wanted him to.
So here we go! Ways God loved on me through this time!
- The song "Even if the Healing Doesn't Come" by Kutless came out a few months prior and many times before this ordeal I would just find myself singing these lyrics over and over again for no reason. And even through this ordeal, I found amazing comfort and encouragement through these lyrics. Now here is where the non-pet lovers will roll their eyes. I get it! This song may not be about losing a pet. And after dealing with the loss of Vic, I have come to the painful conclusion that if I were ever to lose a child (or a family member), it would literally kill me! The pain of that may just do me in. But the same truth applies in any case:
Sometimes all we have to hold on to Is what we know is true of who You are So when the heartache hits like a hurricane That could never change who You are And we trust in who You are
Even if the healing doesn’t come And life falls apart And dreams are still undone You are God You are good Forever faithful One Even if the healing Even if the healing doesn’t come
Lord we know Your ways are not our ways So we set our faith in who You are Even though You reign high above us You tenderly love us We know Your heart And we rest in who You are
I don't think it was a coincidence that this song touched me so deeply way before now and that I knew the lyrics and sang them often!
- The week of Victor leaving us, Jeremy had to go on a business related trip for the full week. I knew that most likely I had to make this decision without him here. And again, God came up beside me and held my hand. He comforted me and gave me the right timing. Fortunately, Jeremy was able to come home for the appointment. But after days and nights of praying for God's healing, I also prayed that Vic wouldn't be in pain. That I wouldn't wait until he was too sick and miserable. After all I did not want him to suffer. And up to the day we put him down, he wasn't in that much pain. I woke up Tuesday morning with a sense of "today is the day". Victor had not improved but he had not taken a dive either. So the feeling in my gut was slightly disheartening becuase I still held on to hope. But a peace came over me to make the call to the vet and make the appointment. The appointment was at 3:30, Jeremy was able to make it home by 3! When we got to the vet, and the vet examined Vic, she was shocked about how quickly he had deteriorated and that if we would have even waited one more day, he could have started seizing that night. And the seizures would have came and I would have been alone with the boys, not knowing what to do. I truly believe God sheltered me from that. I would have been distraught watching him in pain and not being able to do anything about it! Coincidence, I think not!
- On Wednesday, Jeremy had gone back out of town and I had the daunting task of coming home to an empty house for the first time EVER, living in this home. We purchased Vic after we purchased the home, before we moved in to the house. I had never slept in this home without him - our watch dog. Which meant even more now because Jeremy was out of town. I panicked and stressed the whole way home with the boys. My stomach was in knots, nausea and paranoia kicked in. I panicked that it was night time and both boys had fallen asleep in the truck. How on earth could I get both kids inside the house, an empty house, by myself with out my watch dog. I drove home and just prayed and cried out in my head, that I could physically do this. I pulled in the driveway and Evan woke up. Thank you God. I quickly got the boys in to bed and both fell asleep immediately. I headed upstairs to get to bed and after getting in bed, I begged God to comfort me and begged that I would be able to sleep. And it seriously was miraculous. A peace came over me in a way that is unexplainable! It was the most amazing experience! Peace and comfort and tiredness. I laid there for a few moments and basked in God's presence because I was not afraid, I didn't hear every little noise, I didn't feel unsafe, I was not worried. I was at peace. I fell asleep and slept through the whole night without waking, which DOES NOT happen! I woke up, and in joy and in sorrow I thanked God again for comforting me and loving on me when I did not have my husband nor my watch dog.
- Several Bible verses "popped" into my head during this hard week. On Monday, I was driving the boys to school and Vic had gotten sick before we had left. So I was driving the boys to school which I never do because Jeremy enjoys doing it, I am running late, and my sick dog just threw up everywhere AFTER not throwing up for several days, giving me hope that he was going to make it. I was in the truck telling God off in my mind. Letting Him know that I was not in a very good mood and don't you know Pslam 118:24 came pounding into my mind and almost like God was reminding me that I need to make a conscious decision to rejoice the words,"This is the day the Lord has made, we ("I") WILL rejoice and be glad in it" just bowled me over! And as I was stressing over not having Jeremy home all week and myself starting grad classes and the schedules of both boys restarting on top of the decision about Vic, I was a mess emotionally when the verses from Lamentations 3:22-23 overpowered me. "Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" He was NOT going to let me feel consumed by the craziness of many different new and stressful situations during the week. And lastly Psalm 30:5b, which I found because of another song that I have blessed with recently ("Your Love Never Fails" There my be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning), "The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter."
God showed amazing love toward me! For which I am humbled and thankful. He loved on me when I had to give up something that I desperately loved. He gets it! And He used it to remind me that He loves us way much more than humanly can be fathomed!
Does this mean I haven't been saddened with Vic's passing. No! He will be greatly missed! He was after all, mine! He was an amazing dog and companion for me and my kids, he was special! And I will miss him desperately! And I would love to think that Carter is correct that, "Vic is now in heaven mommy, playing and running and having as many snacks as he wants." Death comes and loves are lost! And we have experienced a loss. The boys now understand what death is. It was a hard task explaining it to them and for them to finally "get it". But they are that much closer to understanding why Jesus coming and dying on the cross is such an amazing part of our lives and why we need to remember that our time here on earth is fleeting! We aren't Mario and get to start over with new lives, they now understand that. A harsh reality for us all, but thankful that God has given us dogs to love on and to find joy in and to teach us valuable lessons! God is good! God used Vic one last time before he left this earth to remind me how much He loves me! God is good!