Thursday, September 25, 2014

1,170 Miles From Here

WARNING: This post is an emotional release for me. It is probably not going to be short.

I wish we were 1,170 miles from here.
Nothing is wrong at home. Cathy and I are doing fine and the garden is producing all sorts of vegetables, including more beans than we can handle. But, I wish we were 1,170 miles from here.
We were just down in Eugene to see my folks last week. They are 89 and 85 years old, still live in their own place, still drive, are still involved in their church, and devour all the books Cathy takes to them. We can notice that they are slowing down, needing more rest and sleep, and are not able to work as hard as they would like. Considering their age, they are doing great. But, I wish we were 1,170 miles from here.
There is no disaster at work. The church is alive and well. People are busy serving God and others. The ladies have a retreat this weekend, which means attendance in Sunday School and Worship will be down a little this Sunday. We also have a men's breakfast this Saturday morning, followed by four hour work "day". But, I wish we were 1,170 miles from here.
Today marks exactly two months until the day Cathy and I fly to Orlando to begin a long-anticipated and awaited vacation with our dear friends, the Herrons, beginning at Disney World and then followed by a 7-night cruise in the Caribbean for which all of our kids, including the Herrons' grandkids, will be joining us. It is going to be a most wonderful time and probably the first time in over a decade that both families have been together with everyone present. But, I wish we were 1,170 miles from here.

1,170 miles from here is where Shane and Alison, our son-in-law and daughter live. I wish we were there right now. Last night, their beloved dog and one of our "granddogs", Dexter, died. A number of days ago, he consumed half of a roasted chicken…bones and all. It was a high price to pay for doing what came natural to a dog that was full grown but really still a puppy. As with Cathy and I when we were first married, their dogs are their kids and this loss is enormous. When Alison talks to me about it—the feelings she expresses, the phrases and words she uses, the grief that is so overwhelming—it brings back what we went through when our first dog, Sampson, met his untimely death on Thanksgiving morning in 1975.
We have had nearly thirty-nine years filled with great joys, including our three children, our daughter-in-law, son-in-law, and four more dogs (of which one even lived long enough to die "naturally" in her old age). We have also had many other great griefs including the loss of my sister Cheryl to ALS and the loss of my father-in-law to cancer. I think the loss of Sampson so long ago helped teach me that God will carry me through times of grief, including the more significant losses of Cheryl and Cathy's dad. We know more grief is coming. Cathy's mom and my parents are not the only ones getting older. I don't want to think about those future losses right now but I know God will carry us through.

Shane lost a sister in a tragic accident a number of years ago. Alison has had her tragedies, too (and has the scars to prove it). But Dexter was one of their two dogs—a life they took care of together. This is a joint loss for them. They are grieving together and deeply. I know their other dog, Cody, will be receiving a lot of extra hugs and loving. They will continue to cry and grieve together and we want to hold them, cry with them, and pray with them instead of doing it from far away.

I wish we were 1,170 miles from here…in Ontario, CA with my daughter and son-in-law (and the other granddog).

Dexter is in the red oval below in our Christmas picture from last year.