Are we ever really ready to grieve yet set the grief apart to love again?
I have never lost a dog and quickly gotten another, because the pain of my loss wouldn’t let me. How could you lose a dog as remarkable as Raen, and let another dog into your heart? And those of you who follow this know, it was only weeks ago we lost her to leukemia.
But there was this puppy, advertised in the paper by our local shelter. A one-year old shepherd who was neglected, left outside, heart-worm positive. People began to call me. She needed a “pack” who could care while she goes through the pretty brutal treatment, people who would invest in her and love her through it, walk her, speak gentle words, play quietly, since in the next months she cannot run or get excited. She needed to learn to play, to be house-trained, to trust….to be rescued.
My granddaughter was visiting, so I asked her if she’d like to go see the puppy. I cried all the way home, grieving and considering. I knew I could take care of her. I knew I would come to love her, but the treatment is serious, it poses the risk of death. Should I face that possible loss? Especially since my heart is already broken. My granddaughter, Catherine, treated me gently. “It’ll be ok, Nana,” she said, “You can do it.”
When our son was a little boy he went to a Saturday class at the History Museum on Egyptology. One of the tenets that most impressed him was the Egyptian belief about the final judgement. Upon death the heart of the deceased was one of the few organs left in the body during mummification. When the soul of the departed faced Anubis, their heart was weighed against a feather. If it was weighed down by evil, instead of lightened by love, the soul would be eradicated for eternity. That concept has stuck with me.
Sometimes, I have thought of a different measure of our life’s worth. I have wondered if we might be judged by the scars we received physically or spiritually from our care of another, versus those we have inflicted. But maybe that is also about love.
While struggling with our decision I did what I always do, find data. The more I learned the scarier her illness got. The drug used to kill the heartworms can kill the dog, and worse, as they die, they can break up and cause thrombosis. And to add another threat the shelter wouldn’t release “Princess” (her shelter name) to adoption unless she was spayed, and having surgery and anesthesia could kill her. Two vets told me this posed a risk. But the only way she could be released without the surgery was to go to a rescue organization. So if we adopted, the risk to her only went up!
As the obstacles seemed to mount, I became determined to at least have her rescued. Friends and family rallied. We found an organization willing to sponsor her, but with no available homes. They said they could sponsor her with me as her “rescue foster mom.” The decision was made.
Papers were faxed to the shelter and then in what seemed minutes the call came: Go pick up Nessa (our name for her.) It felt like fate had swept us up to take her into our lives.
Am I still weighed down by grief? Yes. But Doug and I have always described love as an ocean which ties us together, with ebbs and flows, with tides high and low. The pain still comes and washes over me from losing Raen. But the ocean of my love for her will always be there. So the feather is being lightened by a new seed of hope. Even if that means scars lie ahead as Nessa goes through treatment, we will all face them together, and as we rescue her, she is rescuing us. Yes, I guess, it really is about love.