In the middle of all this upheaval, the Acts of God and the acts of men, the desperation and the mourning and the umbrage and anger -- we, our little family burrowed down with a night of pure sadness. One of those things that, in the midst of a world swirling with senseless murder and unfathomable destruction, seems so small...
My son's little pug, Big Tex, 12 pounds and 3 legs, became suddenly sick. And didn't recover. He died in my son's arms on the way to the emergency veterinary clinic shortly after midnight. My boy called me--my son, the army reservist, lover of bro-country music and weight lifting--reduced to thick, heaving sobs the likes of which I haven't heard since before he went to Middle School. It was the sound of heartbreak, and mine broke, too. Not just because I loved that dog (y'all...I loved that dog), but because I hurt for Jackson. He's my baby boy--even though he's a mass of tattoos living two towns away. He was helpless; I was helpless. And so it was a long, sad night.
In the first hour after hearing the news, I sent Jackson a text saying: what a blessed little dog Tex was. You gave him the best life a dog could ever want. He never knew an uncherished moment.
See, Big Tex came to Jackson a broken, sick puppy. He'd been rescued, his leg mangled in a mass of wire. Horribly infected. Amputated. Jackson took him, gave him a home. Loved him unconditionally. Not always easy, because as adorable as Big Tex was, he was--ultimately--a dog. Selfish, you know. Pizza stealer, in-face-sneezer. Sharp little nails that scratched when he jumped into your lap. He snored and farted to an obnoxious degree. Chased the cats and stole the other dogs' toys.
But, oh. How Jackson loved him. Bought him the best food. The best toys. Walked him around. Showed him off. Jackson and Big Tex were inseparable. If you saw Big Tex, you saw Jackson--the two of them leashed in love.
The loss of Big Tex comes at the end of a hard, hard month. Like, awful on a national level. And so I've had moments thinking--maybe I shouldn't indulge this sadness. Maybe I don't have a right to burst into tears at the thought of this little dog. But then--I felt this kind of release. A weird sense of healing for mourning something so close. After weeks of feeling helpless in the wake of a hurricane, and days of dodging useless arguments after a senseless mass murder--here was something that touched my life. Something I could physically feel. Not pictures on my TV or images in my facebook feed, but text messages with my son. I wanted nothing more than to put my arms around him and hold him.
Which I did, the next evening. At a lovely, normal dinner.
I know not everybody gets to enjoy that kind of restoration. That kind of healing. I know hurt runs deeper, death is more consequential, loss more permanent. But for just that 24 hours, there was an exquisiteness to our sadness. Jesus promises blessing to those who mourn, and I felt that blessing this week. It was beautiful. It was comfort in its purest form. Once again, I'm in awe of God's mercy.
In the amazingly wonderful book Love that Dog by Sharon Creech, the boy writing a poem in honor of his dogs writes: thank you, thank you, thank you for choosing me.
I'm so thankful that Jackson chose Big Tex.
I'm so thankful that God chose me.