Today was a big day for our family of four—two humans, two canines. Sadie and Teddy went for their pre-op physicals and bloodwork. Next Wednesday, they will be neutered and spayed. And not a minute too soon, since there were signs that Sadie was going into heat again.
On the opposite end of this surgical rite of passage is the day we must say goodbye to our beloved animal companions. Last evening, our neighbors told us that the vet had said it was time to say goodbye to their much-loved black lab. Mitsu is a fluffy girl (“It’s all fur,” she would say), a guide-dog dropout with a cheerful personality and a penchant for playing fetch. It was such a sad moment. Last evening, we prayed for the family—and for Mitsu.
This morning before we left for our vet appointments, we prayed again for our neighbors. All pet owners know the heavy heart and tears that accompany this dreaded day. In this time of pandemic, pet owners surrender their beloved animal companions to the care of the veterinary staff, and in due course they are returned to you. In the meantime, you wait in your car. All communication is done by phone.
As we were waiting, John glanced in the rear-view mirror and saw our neighbors pull into the parking lot with Mitsu. We got out of our car and, across the pavement, communicated signs of prayer and love with tear-filled eyes, not wanting to intrude on the precious last moments they would spend with Mitsu. Back in our car, we prayed again, but this time I added, “Please let them know they will see Mitsu again.”
After a while, Mitsu painfully walked by with a staff member. Then her human parents were called to come in. They paused and looked at us, and again we communicated love and prayer. In a few minutes, Teddy and Sadie returned to us. We hugged their warm, vibrantly healthy young bodies and drove home in silence.
We were home a short while when I received a text from our neighbors saying that our presence was a blessing—that Mitsu was now free from pain and they felt our prayers. We agreed that a divine hand had arranged for us to be there.
Still, it was a hard day.
I often retreat to the garden, but being outside provides particular solace when I am sad or down. Today is an absolutely perfect day. A bit cool, but with no clouds, the sun is warm and comforting. I was looking at our lemon tree when a monarch butterfly flew across my face. It fluttered around briefly and flew over the fence. To me, butterflies are a sign of new life and I smiled, envisioning a healthy Mitsu in a happier place.
Coincidence? Maybe. But I haven’t seen a butterfly in a very long time. This day seems marked by divine compassion and hope. With one last sentence to write, I glance out the window just in time to see a yellow mallow dance by. I mean, really—what are the chances?