The email’s subject line read simply, “Lecktor.” Still that one word had an ominous tone to it. It was the name of my girlfriend’s beloved pet – a champion German Shepherd, a hero in the Search and Rescue community.
I read the email and immediately felt the need to flee the house. I could hardly breathe, the walls started crashing in and I had to run away. Lecktor, who had once covered miles and miles in search of lost humans, was slowly losing his battle to stand. My friend faces the horrific decision to put him down. Age is one foe he couldn’t conquer; the email listed details of her decision.
Sitting in the parking lot of the local grocery store, I called my husband in tears. I tried to explain why I was crying – why I was sitting in my car sobbing. Losing a pet is so gut-wrenching and as I blubbered, I tried to explain my deep emotional reaction to my husband. “I know,” I whimpered, “how hard it is to lose a dog you love.”
Worried that something had happened to our dog, he tenderly asked, “Where’s Lily?” Assuring him that our own canine was safe at home in her kennel relieved him, but did little to calm me.
My heart broke for my friend. I cried because I did not know how to comfort her. I cried because I couldn’t wipe away her pain. I cried because I knew her family was saying goodbye under crushing sorrow. And I cried because there is loss in this world and sometimes it grabs me, shakes me and refuses to release its grip.
To escape the hold this news had on me, I had the uncontrollable urge to one-by-one hug everyone in the parking lot. Because we have all been there. We have all suffered loss. We are together in grief. But I figured that action would only result in a panicked call to the police and a trip to the psych ward for me.
So instead, my loneliness drained me sitting deep in the crevice of my sadness. Heartbroken, unfixed, I was powerless to erase my friend’s grief. There is no earthly fix, no person can repair a loss like this. I often tell people we heal in community but those words seemed pathetic. Yet it was all I could offer. I pray my friend is comforted by my desire to sit with her in her pain.
I sat in my car facing this lonely place comforted knowing God is my Search and Rescue team. In the unique solitude of the parking lot, all I could do was pray. My prayers to heal Lektor won’t be answered. Yet because of Jesus, we don’t need to hide from loss. We can ask Jesus into it with us. He won’t always remove the cause of our anguish, but with Him, we are never truly alone.