In a life of caring for and raising our animals, loss is unavoidable. We have experienced it. We must learn to live with and learn from it, but I admit, sometimes we struggle.
Recently, we experienced a strong blow. Since acquiring two livestock guardian puppies last year, we have loved, coddled, and trained them to guard our goats and land. One was extremely gentle — we chose her because she sat back and watched the proceedings inquisitively instead of joining her overexcited siblings. Our eldest daughter chose the second: the shaking runt of the litter. We hesitated to agree, but finally decided that a pair was better than a single dog.
Over the months, we have trained them and attempted to keep them within our fences. When we were out of town, however, the young man watching our home called us to say that one of the puppies was wheezing and sluggish. He took her to the vet and she was diagnosed with a respiratory infection.
We kept a close eye on her as soon as we returned and she seemed to improve, albeit slowly. Last night we fell asleep to her doing what she does best — guarding and barking. This morning, when rushing to finish the morning chores so we could pick our blueberry harvest, my children found her on the hill, foaming blood at the mouth and breathing with difficulty.
My husband rushed her to the vet. He called about thirty minutes later. Her body was flooded with toxins and she would soon be gone. Heart failure in our eight-month-old inquisitive puppy.
We live off a country road, where, depending on the age of the driver and the time of day, vehicles can either meander through at a leisurely 30 miles per hour or storm by at 60 miles per hour. While I was gone with the children for their piano lessons, a truck hit one of our prized chickens. My husband was with the goats on the hill when he heard some teenagers yell, “Hit it!” He immediately looked to the road, where a truck swerved out of its way to hit and run over our chicken.
How should we look at loss? My children have cried many tears lately. We cry because we miss our dog, because our remaining dog is lonely, because our son experienced his puppy gravely ill, because he brought her home to bury her instead of leaving her at the vet… We cry because people purposely disregard precious life, even though just a chicken. We cry because we have lost.
Why did this happen? I wonder if I ask this question because of my sin. I respond with questions instead of gratitude. My two year is in the stage where he constantly asks “why?” instead of responding with “yes, ma'am” or “yes, sir”. In his sin, he has revealed my sin: constantly asking “why?” to my Creator God.
Yes, Lord, this is your life, not mine. Yes, Lord, this dog and this chicken were your creations, not mine. Praise be to you for the enjoyment you gave me during the time you blessed me with their lives. Thank you that my boy experienced the joy of having a puppy. I do not understand why he needed to experience this loss, but I know it was for his good, so I praise you in our sadness.
I must conclude that loss is made meaningful by knowing that it was never truly our life in the first place, but a gift from the Giver of life.
Have you experienced loss? How do you and your family handle it? What have you learned through it?
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