Throw Your Heart Into It

You've Got Heart
You've Got Heart

Throw your heart into it, and the rest of you will follow.

Tomorrow, New Year’s Eve. The next day, 2010.

Are ya ready for it? Here’s my plan:

I’m throwing my heart into it, knowing full well that the rest of me will follow.

I think this is often referred to as Faith.

Got Faith?

The Gift That Visit Brought Us

Happiest Dog in the World
Happiest Dog in the World

We’ve been talking about a beloved Family pet, our Yellow Lab, Carter.

Virtually all pet owners understand the remarkable bond humans forge with their pets. And it’s especially strong in a pet relationship where there are no children.

Here’s the gift we received from what we thought was our very last weekend with Carter. We were staying at Mitchell’s Sand Castles, which is pet-friendly and on a quiet end of Sanibel Island. It was our 22 visit.

After a nice day on the Sanibel beach, with Carter at our side all day, we had a nice dinner in our cottage. I was walking contemplatively through the dark and tropical setting, taking the trash up to the road.

When around one dark corner, I was mildly startled by another man, standing by the road. Unusual, and a little freaky.

We said casual greetings and then he asked me, “Were you the guy with the Yellow Lab on the beach this afternoon?”

“Yeah, that was me.”

He said, and I will never forget this, “I’ve never seen a dog wag it’s tail so much. You must have the happiest dog on earth.”

There was a reason we went to Sanibel for Carter’s last weekend (so we thought) on earth.

It was so I could meet the total stranger out by the road, waiting for his pizza delivery guy.

The End Was Imminent

We Will Miss You, Carter
We Will Miss You, Carter

Imminent. Looming. Threatening.

This is what we thought October 2008, just over a year ago.

Our beloved Canine Son, Carter, a nine-year old Yellow Lab, was very sick.

Our Vet spotted an unusual sore in the roof of Carter’s mouth during his routine annual exam two months prior.

The sore ate a hole in the roof of his mouth at an alarming rate – what seemed literally overnight. In hindsight, maybe we panicked.

We honestly thought that Carter may not see another weekend and we quickly made arrangements for “one last trip” to our favorite Family vacation spot, Sanibel Island.

We talked with our son (eight) about death. We talked about our favorite Carter memories. We talked about what we’d miss the most about Carter.

We said goodbye to Carter.

The Lord works in mysterious ways.

Carter is still with us. He still struggles with the complications from the hole when he drinks and eats, but overall, it’s a miracle he’s still here.

Tomorrow, the gift that visit brought us.

We Talked About It

Carter 2008 on Sanibel Island
Carter 2008 on Sanibel Island

Are there things in your life that are difficult to talk about? Things that scare you to talk about?

Me too. But not as much lately. Why? Because of things that have happened and the lessons learned.

Namely, becoming a parent. And thinking about the type of parent a child should have, there are a few key concepts that seem all too obvious to practice well.

Being honest.

On our sunset walk the other night, with our Dog, our son and I talked about random things. Clouds. The sky’s color. The cold air. His “winter” clothing. Sounds we heard. Jokes. Junk.

And then for some reason, as we were turning off the road and through the woods to our house, I saw Carter, our yellow Lab (10), come following behind us.

“You know Carter’s not going to live forever, right? All things die. Carter will die some day. You know this right?”

It felt like the right moment to say that, mostly because of a recent conversation with a death expert.

This “death expert” works in Hospice and Palliative Care. She mentioned that her vision would be that everyone in her community would “die well”, not just her company’s “customers”.

It hit me in a weird, but glorious sort of way. Her honesty. Her frankness. Her ease in talking about death.

Eureka!

If we are aware and not too afraid, we can help Carter die well. We should start thinking about it before we need to.

Same goes for humans.

Courage To Do What’s Needed

Got Courage?
Got Courage?

Thank you Mary and to you too, Joseph, for your courage to do what was needed.

Rejoice.

Peace on Earth, good will toward men.

Emmanuel.

Prince of Peace.

And the list goes on and on.

But does my courage?