Sunday, January 11, 2009

Life Goes On ...

An era in our lives has passed away.

Our dear dog, Darbin, given to me by Nick as my wedding gift, died yesterday.
He was our first child. I still remember how ecstatic I was riding home from Clarksville with this warm bundle of curly black fur in my lap and the sleepless nights I spent with him whining in the crate -- the crate was soon exchanged for a big, fluffy dog bed right beside ours.
I remember how he defied death when he chewed through the cord to my alarm clock and every hour, on-the-hour, trips outside at night to potty train him. I remember obedience school and doggie daycare (Yes, we were those "crazy dog people!") I remember trips to the park in Columbia, regardless of weather condition -- generally involving insulated underwear and earmuffs -- to let him chase squirrels and play on the slides. I remember him eating all of the strawberries out of our first garden. I remember bone-shaped birthday cakes and late nights grading papers at school, with him at my feet (or sniffing the cat dissection boxes in the lab). I remember him accompanying me on outdoor field trips with my high schoolers and him sniffing the infant carrier when we brought Abi home from the hospital. So many great memories!
He was such a central part of our lives, and I will miss him!

His death has been hard for Abi -- but it has led to some conversations about death and faith that I believe are going to have eternal value for Abi. She's been questioning death, heaven, why Jesus had to die, and other spiritual topics for several months now, and this experience has provided a tangible opportunity to continue these discussions. I've been able to show her how I deal with feelings of sadness by praying with her and to talk about what I believe about these spiritual questions she's raised. She said tonight, "So, Jesus died so that I can be with God in heaven forever even though I hit brother in the bathtub tonight? Even though I was naughty?" Bingo! :o) (And even though you lied about hitting your brother in the tub tonight, until you just ratted yourself out!)

It has also afforded me a glimpse into quiet little Brandon's mind. He asked yesterday how people actually get into heaven. When I told him that was one of the mysteries we didn't know until we actually went to heaven, he theorized that there is either a very tall ladder we climb up, that God gives us wings to fly to heaven, or that we can use our feet like Santa's reindeer use to fly! What a precious little man he is!

This experience has also reinforced my knowledge of the fact that God is a gracious God! He accepts us with all of our short-comings and gives us what we each need, as unique individuals. I, apparently, am not very good at making permanent decisions. Before I became pregnant with Camryn, I had been struggling silently for months about whether we should have another child or if our family was complete. I waffled back and forth and remember telling a friend that I just wish God would make the answer obvious to me -- a few weeks later I found out I was pregnant. Now, if that isn't obvious! In the same way, I've been struggling with Darbin's deteriorating condition over the past several months and have been praying for God to make it obvious to me when the right time was to let him go. Yesterday, God made that decision obvious to me. He graciously answers my prayers.

I will certainly miss Darbin. There is a strange emptiness in our home without him. But love lives on, as he has been part of the blessings of conversation with my children and lessons from God even after his passing. And he's given me another reason to love my husband so. Nick has been so gentle with me and my emotions. He has taken care of the details that I don't want to address. Darbin has been present in our marriage, essentially from the beginning, and has brought us a little closer together, even in his final day.


Andi said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Darbin. I'm so glad you had the opportunity to make so many wonderful memories, and that you have recorded some of them. My thoughts are with you and Nick.

Erin said...

I'm so sad for you guys! I know you loved him so much. You are doing a great job of seeing the positive through out the whole experience!