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  • Writer's pictureMarji Stevens

Swing the Leg of Your Faith--and Leap!

Everyone's reaction to loss is different. I'm compelled to clean. Its as if a sponge and a mop can somehow sweep the sorrow away.

My dog, Oden, just passed away. Most of you who subscribe to my blog have already heard this, but sadness also makes me want to write. He was only four.

Oden contracted or was born with, a very rare heart condition. I don't know the name of it, but it eventually manifests as congestive heart failure. The signs were vague at first--not wanting to chase the ball more than once, staying on his bed when he could be outside, and the little indications in his eyes that he was worried. But just this past week it surfaced with a vengeance: coughing, swollen belly, restlessness.

It was so sudden.

I remember the day he arrived, "Kyle, I really don't want another dog," I said. But then I looked into those big brown eyes, saw his humungous paws...and, well...Oden moved in to quickly captured my reluctant heart. Though he could shed enough hair to carpet a castle, his sweet, and protective company overoad it all.

I used to get irritated at the way my mother-in-law babied our previous dog, Molly. I can remember thinking, I'll never behave like that. Ha! That's what I thought. "Oddie-boops, want your din-din? Okay, baby, Mommy's gonna go nighty-night, time for your cookie and bedie-bye. A bit degrading for a dog of Oden's kingly stature, but I couldn't help myself. I even shortened my activities away from home so he wouldn't get lonesome! When I travelled I'd call home--not to check on the family--to check on the dog!

As I write this, my house sparkles--there's nothing left to clean. My lumbering giant is so missed.

As I reflect on loss, I think I understand it better. Loss is that intrusive, unwelcome caller that crashes in to steal the lovely sameness that we cherish. Loss is a hurdle suddenly dropped before your eyes and taunts, "You'll never leap over this one." Loss is a kick in the groin of your happy norm.

I tend to spiritualize everything and look for profound lessons, but sometimes there aren't any. All you're left to do is swing back the leg of your faith and leap as high as you can until you finally make it over the hurdle.

Loss makes you wish that God had skin. I want Him sitting beside me so I can rest my head upon His shoulder. Instead, it seems God tucks Himself in the shadow of our grief--silently watching--slightly distant. But, perhaps this is His best gift in loss, because it makes us hunt for Him.

Father, thank you for giving us our furry friends who always love so unconditionally. Thank you that though we cannot see or feel You, we know You are very near.

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