As a parent, I want to protect my children. I want them to find joy in love, but shield them from the pain of loss. It hurts to see them in pain. I want to avoid the challenges life can bring. Yet I know in the years I have them with me, I have a responsibility to teach and equip them.
A couple of months ago we learned of a special needs puppy that needed a home. After much thought and prayer, we had peace about bringing her home. Well, all except one son. We had lost a dog in recent years. Although it was technically his brother’s, he had felt the pain of loss. A puppy with special needs might not thrive.
One cannot help but fall in love with a cute puppy. A sweet personality and right away the little thing knew who her boy was. She followed him wherever he went and slept at his feet during his homeschool lessons.
We didn’t take pictures of Bella. At least not initially. We didn’t immediately announce the arrival of our new four-legged family member on social media. To do so would make it real, and we were guarding our hearts.
One day Bella rallied and thrived. Another day she was sick and clearly exhausted. When she had more positive days, we took a picture. We casually mentioned her on social media. Others we knew were sharing pictures of their Christmas puppies, so what could it hurt. Just another cute puppy in the newsfeed.
We prayed! We prayed for wisdom and for healing. Yes, God can heal a puppy if it is His will.
For weeks, my son tended to her every need. Not the standard care of a puppy. At the end of especially hard days, he would scoop her up and hold her like a baby. She would sleep with her head on his shoulder until it was time to go to bed.
It was on his birthday I saw the boy’s hope. When asked to pose for a birthday picture, he put on some shades and picked up Bella. Although he gave an expression to suggest he was too cool to smile, I knew there was hope behind those shaded eyes. Hope for many more pictures with his Bella.
Four days after the boy’s birthday, we said goodbye to Bella.
’tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all ~Alfred Lord Tennyson
The loss of Bella has brought tears and heartache for our entire family. The older son angrily insists he had been right, “I said I didn’t want a special needs puppy. I didn’t want to get attached and then lose her.”
Her boy quietly grieves. He reflects on God’s peace when praying about bringing her home. The time caring for her wasn’t easy, but it was good. He searches to understand why he had peace only to lose her.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
My mother’s heart hurts for my kids. I cannot protect them from loss. I can offer comfort. More importantly, I point them to the Comforter. That is the source where broken hearts are truly healed.
This is not the first time my kids have experienced loss, and it will not be the last. If I walk through this pain with them, instead of protecting them from it, they will be equipped to dare to love. When life brings loss, they will know where to turn for comfort and healing.