I told my sister I was thinking of not doing a Christmas card this year. We were supposed to have family pictures done and now that we’re up against a time crunch, I’m not exactly feeling full of cheer and cheesy poses. I don’t want to worry over matching outfits, the perfect lighting, etc. I’m in a funk. I’m sad. There is no Christmas spirit in this heart. And the rest of my family is feeling the same way. Because today we are putting our sweet pup to sleep.
Our sweet Halo is almost 12 years old, which is exactly how long the vet said she would live. But that doesn’t make it any easier. Today we are letting go of a piece of us. Not only part of our family, but a symbol of when Joe and I were just beginning this family. I remember her adoption clear as yesterday. We had another dog that was having separation issues so our (maybe not best) solution was to get him a friend. I was about five months pregnant and we hid that from the rescue group, worried they wouldn’t adopt to us if they knew. We had to compete with another couple who came to adopt her and we won over the adoption staff. I was supposed to get to name Halo but I drew a blank. My husband who was into the video game at the time came up her name. It was funny when people thought we named her that because she was so angelic. Little did they know she was such a ball of energy.
With us starting a family she didn’t get the attention she needed but she stayed loyal to a fault. As babies and toddlers our kids could pull her tail or grab her snout and the only punishment she offered was a dozen kisses. She was protective of us (at times overly) and up through today, still tried to follow us around and love on us. I’m going to miss her super soft ears and how she always thought the slightest pet was an invitation to roll over and have her belly scratched. One of the many perks of selling the big house was having more time to spend with her. She was indoors with us more, slept down the hall from us, and really calmed down to be the dog we all dream of. This last year when she began to have seizures we couldn’t leave her at a kennel for vacations so we took trips where she could come with us and we really had quality time to enjoy her.
The last set of seizures has caused her to be completely blind. Upping her medicine has her sleeping most the day. And something is going on with her hips that doesn’t allow her to use one of her back legs. We made the appointment on Monday. It’s been a long week.
But back to perspective. I went for a run this morning and it’s usually these quiet times when I actually make time for deeper thinking. I thought of all the good things that I do have going for me. My little family loves spending time together and we are constantly making silly memories. Our kids are smart, and good, and have so much faith. We have our health, and with a scare last month of having to get a second round of pictures taken after a mammogram, my health is nothing to take for granted. My husband’s job is secure and that peace of mind is a blessing. I was given the opportunity to become a marketing director for a local youth theater company and I get to spend some time doing a job that I love. Wow, I thought humbly. I guess life IS pretty great.
When I got home I scanned through my Instagram photos of the last year. My little girl as Wendy in Peter Pan, my little boy killing it in sports, fun times camping, date nights, celebrating my sissy being cancer free, time spent with extended family and friends, buying a home in the neighborhood we love. These smiles and memories remind me that in the dark days, we have had some really bright ones. These are the photos that I will fill my Christmas card with. These are the memories that I need to remind me that we are really, really blessed.
Today is going to be hard. Ridiculously hard. All of these blessings do not change that. And we’re going to be sad. Possibly at the most unexpected times. But down the road, what will ease the ache, is knowing that our dog was a part of these great memories and we can be thankful with a somewhat heavy heart. How does that saying go? It is better to have loved and lost rather than never loving at all?? This dog has driven me crazy at times but she truly is leaving big shoes to fill.
Lastly, with God-driven appropriate timing, last night at the Lincoln Brewster concert he talked about everyone going through times that are rough. The advice he offered that stuck with me was that when things are hard and feel too big fix, or are just plain out of our control, we need to “lean into the little things”. Treasure what is right in front of us.
Losing my dog two weeks before Christmas creates quite the black cloud over a usually bright and merry time of year. But I know that I don’t want to miss out on this season with my family, especially while the kids are still kids. So when we want to sit in a funk or get snappy with one another, I want to remember to do three things. One, remember to give grace when our moods reflect our grieving. Two, I want to keep perspective of all the joys that we DO have. And three, I want to lean into the little things: a nice person, a good deed, the way my kids respond to Christmas wonder, watching Christmas movies together, a short line at Costco and most of all, thank God for sending me on that run this morning to inspire all of this.
What is it for you? A strained relationship, struggles with health, finances a mess? My Christmas wish to you, keep perspective and lean into the little things.