Losing our Fur Baby

Here is a journal entry about our beloved dog, Holly:

Holly struggled last night. We think maybe tomorrow we will have Laps of Love come and help her see Jesus. I grieve for Jeremy- he always wanted a black lab like his dad had. Holly is his baby girl just like she is Hannah’s Holly Jean. We have all love her. This morning I laid next to her. She had her head resting (oh boy hot tears fill my eyes as I type this in Caribou Coffee) on her front paws. As I rubbed her head I whispered, “Jesus will bring you home.” She then lifted her head, looked me in the eyes and licked all over my tear-covered face. She has never done that. I have also never laid on the ground next to her. Even in her dying she was a comfort to her humans. My heart thinks how I’ll miss the things that have always annoyed me like the insane amount of coarse black hair in every place imaginable. Seriously even when I clean out the freezer. It is like fairy dust that floats and travels everywhere but not the cute glittery kind but the make you cringe that it is in your hot bean dip. I think of my griping of her protective barking at every single Amazon delivery driver. Also how she will sneak up on our couches when we are gone and leave her hairy evidence everywhere.

It is not actually the hair in the bean dip I’ll miss but these are the evidences of her presence.

I’ll miss her patience with our annoying chihuahua who barks at her butthole whenever she barks.

I’ll miss her patience with our 1st chihuahua and with our toddlers.

I’ll miss her steady faithful companionship that would comfort anyone’s hard day.

I’ll miss how she goes and grabs her blankie or pillow to show each new guest that walks through our door.

I’ll miss how she would grab those same items to take to bed in Hannah’s room each night when we would say, “Go see Hannah.”

I’ll miss her crazy appetite that would lead to her jumping on counters and eating a whole pizza or lead to her on all fours on our breakfast nook snacking on Hannah’s birthday party buffet spread.

I’ll miss her fierce love for our family that caused her to bark with any knock on our front door.

I’ll miss the silent comfort her presence brought as she just sat with you.

I would never in a million years think we would lose her before entering our next chapter. I did imagine how much she’d miss Hannah while she was off at college. But I never imagined that we would be thinking end of life stuff for her at only 7 years of age. The news of her dire health condition came the morning after we closed Story Church chapter was strangely timed. She actually collapsed with difficulty breathing the night of the day we had our last service. I know we all had a ton of grief stored in our bodies with this letting go of Story Church. I know the amount of grief/tears expelled is healing to our hearts and bodies. In a way her suffering/broken body reminds me of what Jesus did for us. We would never in a million years choose to let Holly go this early. Without a doubt I know Holly and her love for us would say, “It’s ok to let me go. I’m moving onto to my new chapter. A chapter with my Jesus. My body will be made whole. I will run again. And I will be with my good good father waiting for our family reunion. I’ll get my black hair all over your heavenly mansion for you. You’re welcome. I love you. You can move onto your new chapter like I’m moving onto mine. I’ll see you later.”

After I wrote this in my journal while waiting in carpool- I realized I just wrote her eulogy unknowingly. She collapsed on Sunday night. Monday morning we brought her to the vet who said she had a ruptured tumor and it seems like her stomach is filling with blood. They wanted to put her down right then. But Jeremy wanted to bring her home so the kids could say goodbye. Jeremy slept on the floor next to her. We continued to watch her. She never whined and cried in pain. But her falling over when she got up to walk increased. Friday morning we called Laps of Love to come that evening. The kids said their goodbyes. Grammy drove them to her place.

The doctor that came over was so compassionate and kind. She knew that Holly was very protective and leery of strangers. So in preparation I had her favorite snack, a tablespoon of creamy peanut butter. I greeted her at her car and handed her the spoon. She slowly approached Holly with arm outstretched with the peanut butter and kneeled down to let Holly smell her. Holly gratefully enjoyed the peanut butter. Holly then licked the doctor all over her face, leaving traces of peanut butter on her face mask and eyebrow. Even in her dying she was so loving.

Jeremy stayed with Holly til her last breath holding her in his strong arms. (Oh Lord, I am so glad I am sitting isolated by the back door of this coffee shop as these tears fall.) Jeremy is so brave. Earlier that day he dug a 3 foot hole to lay her to rest in our botanical garden area. I stayed in the kitchen praying while the vet compassionately ended her life. I’d peek out the window every once in awhile to see if it was over. At one point while praying I felt a peace that said to my heart, “It is finished.” We thanked the vet for her kindness. I watched as Jeremy lowered her body (that was wrapped in Hannah’s Harry Potter blanket) into her grave. We both worked to fill in the hole with toys, pillows, and dirt. The next morning we had a service with Grammy and the kids. We each placed a flower on her grave (from the bouquet we were given on our last service). I read this entry. We hugged and cried as we said see you later to a dear friend. A friend that showed the unconditional love of God to our family.

Following that journal entry I wrote, “Lord, it’s crazy how both life and death/dying coexist. Though Holly is dying I need to continue to do daily things like deposit a check at the bank, sit in carpool, let a friend’s dog out to go potty while they are away. Life still goes on even when the life of another is transitioning to the next level.

We miss you Holly. Thank you for the gifts you blessed us with. Thank you for helping us let go.

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