Have you ever had a gift drop into your life just when you needed it most?
Three years ago my Father-in-law, Bobby, passed away leaving a hole in our family’s life. This hole was most deeply felt by my dear mother-in-law who had married Bobby at age 18 and spent the next 59 years of her life by his side. Losing a loved one is never easy, but I cannot imagine the loneliness and just plain strangeness that she must have experienced as she learned to go on without him.
Needless to say we all worried about her quite a bit that first year. Grieving a long beloved spouse is a tricky business. We prayed for God to give her the grace to pull through and move on in this new way. As we all moved through the sadness, we looked for any way to help that we could. But as many weekends we spent together, trips we took, and phone calls we made, we realized we still could not be there to encourage her day after day.
As we prayed and groped for relief to the grieving, a little gift was dropped into our collective laps.
Being the dog lovers we are, we had batted around the idea of a dog for Grammy a time or three. We scanned the papers for pups and offered to visit shelters with her. Then one day, she surprised us with the news that she had taken a trip to a local shelter, was introduced to Sheba and found love at first sight.
At first we thought the dog was an unlikely choice. She was an eight year old Boston terrier/ Chihuahua mix that was still recovering from having her latest litter of puppies. She had one bulgey Boston terrier eye that seemed to work and one Chihuahua eye that was clouded and weepy.
But even though the dog required some TLC and healing time, it turned out she was the perfect choice. Her small frame and gentle demeanor allowed my mother-in-law to be able to care for her even with a bad back. She never ran off or got under Grammy’s feet. In fact, she spent most of her time cuddled next to Grammy wherever she was. She greeted her happily at the door, kept her company while she watched TV, took walks with her, checked e-mail with her. Wherever Grammy was, Sheba was sure to go.
If I’ve seen love anywhere, I witnessed it flowing from this dog toward her rescuer.
I think Sheba must have known she hit the jackpot when she got rescued by my mother-in-law. I don’t know all the details about the early years of her life, but I would bet good money she had never been pampered and cared for like she was these past few years. But the way that my mother-in-law rescued Sheba is only half the story.
For the beauty of Love is that is blesses both the giver and the receiver.
The love and devotion of this dog became a surprisingly powerful source of comfort and joy for my mother-in-law. Indeed we all delighted in her sweet presence as she became such a part of our life it was hard to imagine a time before we had her with us.
In our time of sadness and struggle this little furball came into our lives like a pint-size gift. As Isaiah writes, where there once was weeping there was now laughter. Where there was once was heartache that was now joy.
Of course a dog could never replace my father-in-law. But her sweet presence reminded us that there is still much good left in life. That there are new joys and surprises still to be had.
I am sad to say that our time with sweet Sheba has come to an end. As happened with my father-in-law three years ago, she lost her great battle with cancer. Even though we lost her physical presence with us last week, the gift of her love for us lives on.
Sweet Sheba, even as we grieve, we are forever grateful for the joy that you brought to us in a time when it was sorely needed. Though we miss you sorely, we will carry the memories of the comfort and hope that you shared.
It is ironic that once again we find ourselves in need of a gift of comfort as we grieve the one who once helped ease our grief. As my years on this earth increase, I am more and more aware of the sadness and hardship that accompanies life. At the same time, I trust that even (and especially) in the hardest of circumstances Life brings little gifts of comfort to us to help us make it through.
Have you ever received a little gift from Life just when you needed it most? What was it and how did it help you through?