Writing is cathartic for me. It's part of how I work through the grieving process when I'm hurting and struggling with pain. Phillip Yancey and Dr. Henry Brand wrote a book called Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants. I certainly don't want it. I don't know many people who do, or even consider pain to be a gift. I agree that it is; but that's a blog entry for another day. I love to write. It helps me. So one of the best ways for me to process my grief and hurt was to write about it. So I did. And I will continue to. As much as has been posted and written regarding Maggie, its hard to believe its only been 19 hours since her passing. It has become surreal already. I don't want to be or seem over dramatic about this; but I have to write about it. The hurt doesn't go away in a day or a week or even a month or year. Honestly, it probably never goes away. Does time heal all wounds? Nope. For some wounds, its certainly can be better than with other wounds or scars. The sting of losing a dog as a family member and family pet will certainly lessen with time. I was telling my children last night how its been five and a half years since we made this very same decision with our first Chihuahua Daisy. We still miss her. We still love her. We still share cherished memories and stories about Daisy. The sting is not so sharp. It's not so painful. It has gotten better. And I believe it will with Maggie too - in time. But for now, the stab of pain is still very fresh from the loss.
I went to bed last night and got up this morning early and did what I always do. I looked in the laundry room. I've done it for so long that its almost become inherent. The doorway to the laundry room is two steps from the doorway to my bedroom, so I have to pass by it often every day. And when I do, I look. And when I look, I'll remember. Sometimes it will bring smiles. Sometimes it will bring tears. Sometimes I'll pause and linger and reminisce, captured by the moment and the memories of what that tiny little room represents and brings to memory. Life. Love. Loss. Other times I'll zip by that room on a mission like its not even there. But it is. And whether its a lingering glance or an lengthy look; I'll never it see it the same again. It's clean now. No more mess. The smell of Maggie still persists. But that, too, will fade. The mess has moved. It's no longer in the laundry room. It has made its way to my backyard in the form of a hole that now holds my lifeless pet. It's a muddy mess. And so is my heart. A big muddy mess. I stepped outside last night on the porch before bed - to think, to leave tears, and to let Maggie know I still loved her. Yep - I was talking to my deceased dog. I know she's not there. I know she can't hear me. Heck - she couldn't hear me for years before yesterday. Talking to hear - it wasn't for her benefit. It was for mine. And as I made my way this morning past the room to feed and let my Golden outside, I did it again. I walked outside again, this time out to the grave as raindrops fell from the sky. Tears fell. Heart still broken. Words expressed into the gloomy morning. Healing happening - slowly, surely in the serenity of that moment. That process, or some form of it, will probably go on for a while. In the evening. In the morning. Yep. Life will go on. It always does. Good and bad, rain or shine, come hell or high water. Life will go on. There's no timeout because of my pain. Time keeps on ticking. And so I must move on too. It will be a new normal for my family and me. One without Maggie but with the sweet memories of her. In some sense, life will go on and seem like business as usual. In another sense, it will never be the same. But we'll adjust, ask for God's continued help and guiding hand to lead us through this valley that will soon pass by, and be better for it.
As I read my tribute to Maggie to my family last night, I was impressed and encouraged at the life lessons and the probing questions that it invoked in and from my children. Questions about life and death and eternity and God's hand in and through it all. There are lessons to learn. There's always truth to glean. God never wastes a hurt. I believe that. And I don't believe he'll waste this one. He's at work in the Woods' family - in my children, in my wife, and in me. And I'm grateful at how He'll use this season of pain to make us more like Himself. I pray that He does, knowing that nothing that passes through His hand does so by accident. I'm thankful for that - because I'm gonna need a lot of help. For our good and for His glory. This first day after Maggie is Yours, Lord. And so am I. And I need Your help today. And so does my family. You are in control, and I (we) trust You. Amen.