Thursday, February 24, 2011
I am constantly amazed at the wisdom of children. They seem to have an inner voice that we, as adults, have lost as we've grown older. To a child, the world is an amazing place, filled with wonder and delight. Everyday is an opportunity to find new joys and experience new adventures. Because of this, a child's life must be protected at all costs for, too soon, they will become adults and the childhood wonder of life will be tempered by the events of life itself. The security of one's childhood sets the tone for the life one will lead as an adult. Our children deserve to be loved and sheltered while we, as parents and grandparents, teach them the things they need to know to lead happy and productive lives.
One of the great loves of a child's life is its pet. Children and animals go together like bread and butter. There develops a great bond between child and pet and they become inseparable. Such has been the case with my grandsons and their two puppies, CoCo and JoJo, both pups being rescued from horrendous living conditions. While Gabe was attached to both dogs, JoJo, the smallest of the two, became his favorite. He loved to sit on the floor and play with JoJo. I frequently found him with his arms wrapped around the little dog as he nuzzled her neck and told her what a good dog she was. JoJo loved both boys and followed them around the house and yard, always wanting their attention. Gabriel was always loving and petting the little dogs, particularly JoJo. I use the past tense in relating this story as JoJo passed away this week.
When Gabriel and Michael called to tell me that JoJo would have to be put to sleep, my heart sank. JoJo had received an injury to her back left leg that could not be surgically repaired. Her little hip was dislocated to the point where she could not bear weight. In fact, she could not use the leg at all---it just dangled at her side. The little dog was in constant pain, her eyes reflecting how awful she felt. While the vet offered several options in treating the little pet, none of them would relieve her pain and she would remain a cripple. The decision was made to relieve her suffering and let her go. It was a very difficult decision but it was the right one. Knowing the love the two boys shared for their little pets, I thought for sure that they would just fall apart. Oh, how very wrong I was.
I spent the night at my daughter's home the night before our little Jo would leave us. I cradled her little head and stroked her back, telling her how much joy she had brought to the boys and how much we all loved her. It was Gabriel's farewell, though, that touched me deep in my heart. JoJo was lying on a soft blanket on the sofa, her little eyes half closed as she watched all of us around her. Gabe knelt down close to her and said the following words, "You're going to meet Jesus tomorrow. He is so wonderful. You will be with Him in Heaven and you won't be sick anymore. You will be able to run all over Heaven. And, you will meet Jesus' father, too. His name is God and He is so cool. I love you, JoJo. I will miss you.".
Do I need to tell you how the tears began streaming down my face? I looked at my precious grandson and I realized just how strong his faith had become. He understands that life sometimes means separation but, he also understands that Heaven is a reality. He knows that God exists and that He is, indeed, "so cool". He told me later that He would miss his little pet but that he knew he would see her again in Heaven. He also told me that he was glad she would no longer be suffering and that being with Jesus was the best thing for her. I could not hold back the tears.
The next night, after JoJo had been laid to rest, Gabe talked to me on the phone and, once again, told me he was glad she was no longer suffering. He told me he was sad and that he was missing his little companion. Then he said, "I'm sad JoJo is not here, but I will see her again in Heaven someday.". Oh, how I loved him at that moment! How proud I am at the strength of his faith and the secure trust he has in our great Father-God. Faith born in a child's heart is faith that will secure them for a lifetime---it is a faith that will bring them through every adversity---a faith that will help them weather every storm.
I know that Gabriel will face far more difficult situations in life than that of losing a pet. I know that life itself will unfold in glorious beauty as well as the darkest of storms. I feel certain, though, that the faith both my grandsons possess will not fail them. I know that what their Mother and I have taught them will anchor their lives and enable them to face whatever life brings them successfully. That is what faith in God does.
I will long remember the little farewell Gabriel gave his pet. I will remember how he loved her, cared for her, played with her, and, in the end, prayed with her. I will recall, fondly, his idea of Heaven and his secure faith in a God who cannot fail. In days to come, when my own faith may be tested and tried, I will hear Gabe's words, "God is so cool.", and I will know, once again, that He never leaves us or forsakes us. It is a simple message, but one that is oh so true. There is faith in Gabriel's prayer and a promise in his goodbye. That's more than enough for me.