Patches



Bonnie Crandall





 
© Copyright 2020 by Bonnie Crandall



Photo by Hudson Hindze on Unsplash.
Photo by Hudson Hindze on Unsplash.                             

Patches died last night. She wasn't anyone important or even known by many. She wasn't very smart, in fact she didn't even know her own name. That might have been due in part to the fact that she only had a name for six days. She had no impressive background or ancestors. We didn't know where she came from or what her life was like before we knew her. We only knew we loved her and now she is dead.

We got her at the humane society - one pup among four in the pen. She was the smallest, and every time we spoke to her she was stepped on and over by the other three trying to get our attention. Finally she went to the corner and just looked at us with the saddest and yet eager eyes. They seemed to say “I just want to be loved...can you love me?”

We decided we could and would and she came to live at our house. The first day was filled with exploring, yelping and tail wagging. It wasn't that we couldn't love her; we couldn't stop ourselves from loving her. But, Patches died last night.

She slowed down. She didn't eat. There were numerous trips to the vet. There were pills and shots and liquids and I.V.s and nothing helped. Then the vet said we had to hospitalize her. Just as he spoke the words, Patches lifted up the 4.8 pounds left of her tiny body and put her little paws on my chest. With eyes that seemed bottomless in a mix of love, despair, and pain, she looked directly in my face. I couldn't take my eyes from hers. “Patches, don’t die!” my soul screamed silently. “God, please don't take this little puppy from us. We love her, and we want her to live. Give her young life back!” The vet took Patches from me and started the I.V. As I left, I felt Patches had a deeper knowledge of the situation and had just said good-bye, but I refused to believe it.

That night, I wept and prayed and begged. I couldn't understand my pain over a little mongrel pup that I had only known six days, and only one of those were healthy days. We once had a dog that I deeply loved who died at ten years of age. I had not mourned for that dog as I now did for Patches. But I knew that our old dog had lived a full and good life. He had known the joy of chasing a ball, or going for a walk, of tasting a piece of left over food the table. He had known love. He had known belonging. And in that way he had know God. Patches was only 8 weeks old by our guess, and she had know none of this. Now that it was available to her, disease was depriving her of even this. And I was not alone in my deep desire for Patches. As a family, we all gave love as we eye dropped water and cleaned up diarrhea and did all we knew to say “Get well. We love you.”

But Patches died last night. We cried today. She is now buried in the corner of our garden. Joshua, our youngest, took all his 8 year old muscle power and covered her grave with dirt. We said a prayer and gave her back to the Lord God who loves “all creatures great and small”. Joshua calls his friends and tells them she has died. He is carrying around her little collar that she wore only one day. I find myself hearing her yelp and then realizing she is gone.

Patches, may you know that you were loved. Though your life was short, and pain a real part of it, please know the we knew you lived and that we love you. And know that you are of God.

Joshua asked me “Why? Why did Patches die?” We talked of disease and showed him the obituary page in the newspaper, trying to help him understand that death is a part of life. But I couldn't explain death, especially the death of one so young. I couldn't explain away the hurt and loss of someone he loved and wanted back. I couldn’t decipher prayers seemingly unanswered. If I could, I would be God. And then I would have no need for God...and I really need God right now, for you see, Patches died last night. 


Bonnie Crandall is a clinical counselor, married to Ron and blessed with two fine sons: Matthew and Joshua.  Bonnie holds a BA in music and theater and an MA in counseling. Her primary counseling focus is to help people understand they are children of God and persons of worth. She also believes in applying the healing power of laughter and joy, sprinkled with words of affirmation and possibilities for all.


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