Articles and thoughts by Steve Green.
The ceremony was short, and the flower bed burial was somber. Ginger, the hamster had died and now a small cross made of Popsicle sticks marked the shallow mulch grave. Ginger was the only pet that would fit into our life of traveling. I’m sure she had logged more bus miles than any other hamster. She once endured a non-stop trip from Nashville to Vancouver, BC. When the bus engine finally shuddered to a stop, Ginger was clinging up-side-down to the top of her cage. She did recover and within a few hours was back in her squeaky wheel, running nowhere fast. Many a night, I would get up in the dark and put Ginger’s cage in the hotel bathroom, closing the door to shut out her noisy scurrying. Now, she was gone. The four of us quietly walked back into the house and stood in the kitchen. After a moment of silence, Josiah, then five years old asked, “Does anybody else feel like crying?” We said yes, and held him as his eyes filled with tears.
Just a couple of weeks ago we had to put our 13 year old dog, Cinnamon to sleep. That was much more difficult. A large cancerous tumor in her neck was beginning to hinder her eating and breathing. She had been a fixture in our sunroom and a faithful companion for all her years. I learned a lot from Cinnamon. She knew I was her master, but she still had a streak of willfulness… kind of like me. At times her restlessness and yearnings got the best of her and off she’d go. Cinnamon loved to ride in the back of my truck. On one occasion, I took her with me to Home Depot and as I went into the store, I commanded her to ‘stay’. When I returned, she was gone. I searched the parking lot, and then went back inside to tell the person behind the counter that I had lost my dog. The lady mentioned that someone had seen a dog in the lumber department. That would be Cinnamon, looking for a friend. Any friend would do. Another time I took her on an errand to AutoZone. When I came out, she was gone again. I just knew someone had taken her. She could melt you with those large brown eyes. My heart sank. It was already getting dark and she was nowhere to be found. I decided to drive around the adjacent neighborhoods just in case. Sure enough, about three blocks away I saw her sitting on a small front porch, while three old men in rocking chairs gave her the attention she craved. I stopped the truck, lowered the tailgate and whistled. She came running and leapt into the back of the truck. Cinnamon knew when I was upset with her and she was certainly right that night. But even when I reprimanded her, instead of slinking off, she would always come close to me, knowing it was the safest place to be. I wish I was more like that with God.
We found Cinnamon’s add in the paper one morning… free Golden Retriever, $50 for dog house… so I made the call, and then went to get her. We really weren’t thinking about the probability of difficult days ahead. But when you have a pet, you sign up for the whole deal, so we decided to take her to the vet together that last morning. Dr. Butler gave us all the time we needed to reminisce and prepare for the goodbye. When we were finally ready, he gave her the injection, and Cinnamon went quietly to sleep, her head cradled in my hand. We all felt like crying… so we did. Josiah, now 21, was still free to shed tears over the loss.
I know that these experiences may seem trivial in comparison to the deep hurt and difficulty that life has brought you. I guess what I’m trying to say is that somewhere along the way we can lose our childlike transparency and innocence… we don’t dare admit what we are feeling or ask others to join us in our grief. Instead, we are more apt to bottle our emotions and pretend we are strong and in control, unscathed by the words, actions or events that hurt us.
There is One who catches our tears and mends our broken hearts. He is keenly aware of everything from the seemingly insignificant ache to the deepest kind of wounding. Someday he will dry our eyes forever… but till then, from time to time, it’s nice to hear a child’s voice saying what we all had wished someone would say… “Does anybody else feel like crying?”
3 Comments »