Raindrops. Not unusual on an Alabama May morning on any other day; on this day under the conditions of a late spring drought however, it was unusual.
I had just taken my precious cockapoo of 16 years, Sadie, to be put to sleep. After she had been misdiagnosed for years and discovering she had cancer, she had taken a turn for the worst a week ago and was now to the point that she couldn’t walk and wouldn’t eat. She was still drinking and wagging her tail at Matt, my son. Other than that, she wasn’t the same Sadie she had been not so long ago. I didn’t want to take her to the vet; that experience always unnerved her. I wanted her to die peacefully at home with those she loved around her. I begged God to take her in her sleep but to my dismay, that didn’t happen.
I couldn’t help but question why He would have me take on the daunting, heartbreaking task of having her put to sleep. After all, He knows my heart. He knows how hard this would be for me. Still there I was, on the way. I wasn’t happy about it but more to the point, my heart was sick with grief.
On that morning, we prepared to take our last journey together. I gave her a peppermint stick to lick on. Most of her teeth were long since gone so there was no danger of her biting down on it. She licked and licked enjoying one of her favorite treats. I don’t even know what made me think of it. It had been a while since I had given her one. It pleased me as I watched her remember and enjoy that familiar sweet taste. Her eyes seemed to brighten just a bit. Maybe, I thought, I was giving her back a tiny taste of the pleasure she had always given me.
Sadie was like my child. She and Matt had grown up together. I don’t think I could have loved her more. She loved to ride in the car. In her younger days her head would have been out the window with ears flopping in the wind. Not today though. Too weak at this point to even sit up, she sought my hand and placed her head there.
We arrived at the vet’s office finding they had cleared all appointments so Sadie and I were the only ones there. I carried her into the room and placed her on the table wrapped in her favorite blanket. Again she sought my hand and placed her head there licking my hand. All I could think of to say was, “Thank you Sadie, for bringing so much into our lives. We love you, Sadie. Thank you God for bringing us this special doggy through whom you chose to bless us in so many ways.” I said those words over and over again. I’m sure she sensed my sadness. I tried so hard to maintain my sense of composure but tears were rolling down my face.
I thought of all the things she had been through with us: the moves, the joy, the tears, the special times, the sorrowful times. Faithful. Constant. Loving. Now she was gone. Such a big part of our lives, had breathed her last. For a few moments, I held her life…and death…in the palm of my hand. What an honor.
That’s how much I loved her. I loved her enough to provide her a safe, special, loving home in which to live and I loved her enough to stay with her through her death. I smiled through my tears because I knew that if the Lord had ordained it so, she would have done the same for me.
As I walked out of the office, I prayed that my legs would hold me steady and I could maintain my composure to get to the car. Incredible sadness and the sense of monumental loss enveloped me. Safe in my car, I began to sob uncontrollably. As I prepared to drive home I begged God to show Himself in a very personal, very real way and take hold of me and comfort me as I knew only He could. My heart was absolutely breaking.
As I started the car to head back home, a huge raindrop hit the windshield and then another, another and another. Odd, it hadn’t rained in almost three weeks as we’d been in a drought pattern for right at a month. It was then that it dawned on me in my grief that God was crying with me. In the intense moment of need He felt my pain and saw fit to respond with what I felt were compassionate tears of a Daddy who hurts with His child. At one of the saddest times in my life, I never felt more loved and cared for than I did in that moment. I’ll never forget it.
Does God care? Absolutely. No matter the cause of the pain, He feels it too. When His children hurt, He hurts. If His children are suffering, He longs to comfort them, but He will only step in if invited. Oh yes. He cares. He comes. He comforts and oh yes, He cries.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles…” 2nd Corinthians 2:1
NOTE: This story is from my book, “The Last Mile Home, Ordinary Insights from an Extraordinary God” first published 2010