Our dog is dying.
And there will be more about him later because he has been sewn into my identity, our identity and his passing will not go without ripping some seams.
But right now… we are waiting. I am watching his stomach for breathe when I walk past him, first thing in the morning, in the dark when I get up to do something. He takes in long, slow swallows of air through the night and I can hear him breathing like it’s hard and I know that breathing shouldn’t be hard.
But then he will perk up and yesterday I swear he came back from the past. His iconic German Shepherd ears perched high on his furrowed brow and he jumped when he stepped like he did when he was the youngest creature in the house.
Then he would remember that he is an elderly now and he would lie down with heavy sighs.
And this is how this goes. Like it does in the beginning… it starts and it stops, signs of a new dispensation and then settling. You are sure it is now and then you are sure it is not. You reminisce, you dream, you honor and guard the space and time surrounding the journey. Death and Life do not come without pageantry.
I am in a season of birth. There is life all around me and then sometimes… there is death. And it doesn’t go easily either way, but birth faces you forward, death faces you back.
All we have is this strange finite thing. This dot on a line that fuzzes at mentions of beginnings and ends. All we can measure are bits of our dot and all we can use are the rules we made up… Like when children play “now you are…” or “then this happens…” We legitimize our game with titles like Wednesday, by assigning numbers to hours, but birth and death put the game on hold. We stop the moving pieces for just a moment to look up and remember that we are more than our time and more than the space we occupy. To remember that when it really counts there are only precious few things we really care about.
We care about love. We care about kindness and compassion and grace. We care about justice. We care about honor. We care about being valued and showing others their worth.
Even dogs. Even dogs who break your windows and tear your screens and cost you thousands of dollars in medical bills. Even dogs who sigh off nearly a decade of your burdens. Even dogs who have evangelized better than you could ever hope to. Who have outdone your goodness times a hundred. Even dogs don’t go easy.