A couple weeks ago our dear 13 year old dog, Lady G, left us. Lady was part of our family. She kept us safe, provided her love to each of us in a unique way and, of course, was famous for digging up my mom’s garden.
My reflection for this week is really the abundance of graces that we feel from God through our life experiences. It’s harder to see them in the moment when there is pain and suffering. But the passing of our family dog provided a wonderful opportunity for our family to feel and talk about the beauty of life and how God was present through the experience.
As kids, we had stray cats in the neighborhood but we were not allowed to cuddle with them or bring them into the house. My parent’s exposure to animals as kids was to herd animals or walk with you when you went on a journey in the countryside, mostly to scare other wildlife in the area. When my dad brought Lady G to our home, she was about 8 months old. My mom was sooo angry! It was one of those situations that my dad mentioned a dog would be nice but, no one thought he would actually go through with it. He did. Lady G (the “G” stands for Guzman, not Gaga, our last name) has been at our side ever since. My mom grew to love her company, especially in times that she was doing chores and tending to her garden outside. We all loved her energetic yet calm demeanor. She protected all of us, was friendly but she especially loved being around little kids.
My mom first noticed that she was not eating normally. She drank her water just fine so I figured it was the heat and that she was older. Nevertheless, to put my mom at ease and knowing that she had her annual exam coming up, I made an appointment to the vet. The doctor who saw her was new. He asked me many questions and as I think back, he was asking me things because he clearly saw something wrong with her. He didn’t want to jump to conclusions and preferred we conduct an X-ray. Not even 15 minutes into the X-ray, he called me back in and explained that she had a huge mass growing in her abdomen. I was in shock. He then went further to suggest next steps: surgery, recovery, and then…considering to put her down. My heart sank. I simply brought her in for a check up?! I called my sister, and my husband to talk about the situation. We were preparing for an incredibly emotional and draining week.
Later that Tuesday evening, my sister and I gathered my parents and 2 younger brothers to share the most heartbreaking news and to talk about next steps. It was hard to catch everyone up with the details of surgery and recovery. But as we sat there, listening to one another’s hurt, I couldn’t help but to feel the presence of God in the midst of the conversation. All of us shared how important it was for her to feel comfortable; how much life she gave to each of us. We knew that she was living in discomfort, had shortness of breath and was just…tired. We knew that the mass would only get bigger. It was shocking news to all of us and it was the first time I experienced my family sitting together discussing something that affected us all. It involved all of us including my youngest brother.
Thursday was Lady G’s last day with us. We were all able to be present. We were all a mess. We stayed with her, comforted her, and cried alongside her. To this day, we still think back and we are still adjusting to not seeing her in our backyard. But it is a process. A process that gave our family the chance and time to share about life. An opportunity for us, as a family, to tell each other how much we are loved. I think we sometimes take that for granted. We have been checking in with each other more. Every now and then I look back at pictures and think of all the wonderful memories we have together. Thanks be to God for Lady and the love she showered us with during her time here on earth.
This experience has left me with a challenge – am I asking others around me how they feel the presence of God in their lives? What graces are people feeling in the midst of any situation they are experiencing? The impact of these questions with my family have been so enlightening and humbling. I pray that I do this more often with those I come across each day. I challenge you to do the same.
Rest in Peace our sweet Lady <3