Lessons of Life

Ever feel like you have been in school too long when it comes to learning life’s lessons?
When I was journeying through cancer I told a few friends that I wanted to be on Summer Break  …and that is what I feel like again at this juncture in my life.

It has been a tough eight months, starting with my husband’s aunt’s massive stroke leading to her death a few days later.  Then my mother’s health deteriorated very quickly and she passed away the first week of October. (You can read about the life lessons I learned during this incredibly difficult time on October 21st’s post.)

Two days following her death we were given the fabulous news that we were going to be grandparents for the first time this June.  It was such a poignant reminder of the circle of life.

After mother’s funeral I spent the next couple of months getting my elderly father moved into assisted living and worked on his assets to ensure he has enough money to live off of for as long as God allows him to live.

We began a new year with great expectations…especially for our grandchild’s upcoming birth.  But, we were soon back in school learning another life lesson.  This time it was the sudden downturn in our sweet dog Sasha’s health.  Even though she was having struggles, the medical professionals couldn’t find a reason – and then there it was; a tumor on her adrenal gland.  She came through surgery after a few days of touch and go.  Over the next several weeks she improved and we had our playful 8 year old girl back.  After a walk through our local park two weeks ago where Sasha frollicked and played, showing her proud strut, she took a strange turn – wandering glassy eyed into corners, hanging her head, seemingly unable to hear us and respond to us.  The next two days were brutal watching her decline.  Her doctor’s diagnosis was that she was probably in adrenal crisis.  If that were the case it was quite “fixable”.

We were so hopeful as we begged God to let her make it just another twenty-four hours to get the blood test results proving adrenal crisis – and all would be well.  God had a different plan.  She was NOT in adrenal crisis.  She had something else very wrong with her.  Something neurological.  Her odd wandering and placing herself in corners is called “head pressing” and it is always a sign of a problem in the brain or the brain stem.  We sat in the examining room stunned, knowing what had to be done, but so fighting it.

We let our sweet little one slip away while holding her close.  It only took a few second and then she was gone, But the words “…and then she was gone” seemed to make no sense.  How could this be?  She should have had more years to share the “special sauce” God covered her in when He made her.  We felt cheated and felt she was cheated also.  We had so much more love to spoil her with.

So, why is it that our pets hold such a special place in our hearts?  The death of my mother was very painful, but this was – and is – a different kind of pain.  The day we let her go as I cried, I pondered this question .  I was comparing the love that we have for our children with the love we have for our pets.  I knew it wasn’t the same, but the reason escaped me for a few moments.

Then it came to me and it was such an eye-opener that I felt I needed to share this “life lesson” with you.  Animals are part of God’s creation that do not have a sin-nature.  Yes, all creatures and creation were affected when Adam and Eve chose to exercise their free will in the Garden of Eden. However, creatures were not created as beings having free will.  They live their lives by instincts.  That is why, they can…and do…love us unconditionally!  They are not capable of breaking our hearts and rending our spirits like our children may because of choices they make in life.  With our pets we get a glimpse of what God created us to be: sinless.  What an incredible realization!

I have not yet closed the chapter on this life lesson.  The pain is still too new.  However, I have learned – once more – that God desires us to grow and learn from each of life’s lessons.  My life has, yet again, been enriched in the midst of my pain…and for that I am thankful.