Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Red Clay and Red Roses

Death is part of life. Death is shrouded in fear and pain more than any other aspect of life and it just doesn't seem to be optional. Death can be tough at any age, but it seems to be more difficult for those who can't easily wrap their young and inexperienced minds around the concept. Such was the case this past Monday afternoon.

Reagan has been part of our family longer than our three sons have been. In fact, Reagan was the English Mastiff who was to be our "child" until we were ready to have kids years later. Obviously that wasn't God's plan as our oldest son was born a year after Reagan. Reagan was our 230lb baby that was determined and quite content to serve, love and play. It is only expected and natural that a void exists now in our hearts as Reagan died recently.

He appears to have simply gone to sleep and died in his sleep. We highly suspected that he had cancer as he had lost weight and seemed to age quickly over the past few months. Despite that, he never suffered and we know that far to many pet lovers have had a very different tale to tell regarding their sick pet.

After Reagan's death, my family gathered around a plot on our property where Reagan's original dog house was and we began to dig. For such a large animal a small and simple hole wouldn't suffice. After a long time of digging through the hard, red clay we finally had a very deep hole in which I could place our Gentle Giant. The boys helped me dig through the clay and we were all exhausted by the time we were finished. Alabama clay can be as hard to dig through as grief and sadness.

Once the burial was completed, the boys placed Reagan's favorite ball, a "tombstone" and some roses Brook cut from our plants. It was fitting and in so many ways beautiful. The most touching part to me was how the boys prayed to conclude the event. To hear their hearts being openly expressed to God and in their own way taking their emotions and loss to Him was amazing. Losing Reagan has been difficult for the whole family. His large stature is certainly indicative of the large hole left in each of us. I am thankful for the companion he was and for the lessons in life, loss and love the boys have learned through this process. The boys will face more significant losses in their future. We can only hope and pray that during those times they will show the same tendency to go to God with their hearts.

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