Do you believe in miracles? Do you notice every day blessings? This month, I’d like to offer a personal story. I’ll be sharing, confessing, and emoting. Forgive me if I don’t reach you or if perhaps the story resonates too closely…
Last week, my pup (Rocky) became ill. He’d been picky about his newly-changed food, but otherwise appeared happy, energetic, and like our Little Rock Star: half angel, half devil-dog… until Saturday. I noticed his tail lowered; he seemed a bit “off.” I called our vet. The assistant asked the basic questions and being fully booked, suggested a visit the following week (note this is quite unusual). Saturday evening, Rocky was incredibly restless. By 6:00 am [Palm Sunday] something was very wrong. By 7:00 am we were driving northward to an emergency clinic. I admit I am in no way “good” with hospitals (people or animal). I count on the comfort and security of a well-known care facility. My mind conflicted between maternal concern and excessive fear-filled doubts as the old pickup sped ahead. Should we really take him there? Emergency clinics are… neutral at best. Right? We’ll just be another faceless case. They’ll want to rack-up a bill with unnecessary treatment; they don’t know us, our history, or care about our family. Can you grasp my level of discomfort? Honestly, how judgmental! How negative!
The silent, tense drive took near an hour. M grasped the wheel with white knuckles. The engine groaned expressing the chaos in my gut. Rocky was definitely uncomfortable, warm to the touch, and a bit shaky.
We arrived; an attendant greeted us. Shortly after, the doctor examined Rocky. Doc P sat us down for his diagnosis. First came options: he can proceed with any of these types of tests, at these costs, but in his expert opinion, “Rocky has meningitis.” He explained Rocky’s lack of sensory-response, complete zone-out, and lost ability to balance. He called it “mentally dull.” What?! I was stunned, as if slapped sharply across the face.
Trusting this man’s conviction and apparent knowledge we chose tests and treatment. Later they administered a heavy dose of steroids and gave Rocky back to us to wait. We sat cradling our baby. His head needed support; his tongue was limp and partially out; his eyes rolled back. The tiny ball of fur appeared lifeless but for the slight rise and fall of his ribcage. The doctor caught sight of our expression and said, “Yes, that’s the disease…Yes, he may not make it through the week.” Tears poured down our cheeks. I snuggled my face into my precious five-year-old pup. A couple had come into the clinic for a post-surgery pick-up. Overhearing, the woman ran over and hugged me with a deep, lingering, sympathetic embrace. It conveyed strong energy. “You’re in the right place,” she whispered.
Finally, we were sent home. Rocky’s activity is completely restricted (no climbing, jumping off the couch, stairs, exertion or quick movement of any kind - basically he can walk a short distance). The next 14 days would be critical, the first 48 hours, telling. Any improvement would imply hope. Else the disease or the other possibility – an inoperable brain tumor – would likely. . .
We shared our news with family and friends counting on prayers. We cuddled our drowsy puppy every minute and sadly crated him two feet from the bed for several sleepless nights. We made every arrangement for comfort and care, hoping we’d just love him well. We prayed more…
A week later, Rocky is still weak. The only sounds he can muster are moans. He is eating and drinking, and taking his liquid medication like a champ. One day, he hugged his daddy – something he ordinarily does often – letting us know he recognizes us. Rocky paraded a toy (a typical 10-minute activity) for about 8 feet, before hiding it (also a true Rocky move). His tail goes up when the other one of us re-enters the room. After collaboration with the ER vet, our vet saw Rocky after the first full week. Doc R is pleasantly encouraged by our little guy’s progress. We see Rocky’s unique expressions. We sense that he too is optimistic. Despite what must be an overwhelming feeling of sickness, he’s sometimes aware, and always behaving like a perfect patient. This is a slow battle, but one our pup is giving all he has. He’s fighting as a true “Rocky!”
I am blessed this Easter Sunday morning. I am blessed that everything which needed to happen, did:
Unfortunately, for some peculiar reason, Easter is habitually a hard time for our family. Yet there is something Easter always brings: hope. Hope for new life, growth, love, faith… and most of all, Easter brings with it an indescribable JOY. Not a joy that mimics happiness; rather a joy that comes from your core and radiates through your whole being, right out into the atmosphere.
A JOY THAT SWELLS, SURPRISES, SUSTAINS AND SPREADS.
Easter brings fullness of joy and hope. Christ’s resurrection conquers death; joy overcomes despair. For God so loved the world, He gave His only son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish, but have eternal life.” - John 3:16
Is my pup’s nightmare in anyway good? NO! We don’t desire hardship; yet challenge is a part of life we cannot control. Can I dwell in the misery and despair at yet another severe Holy Week disaster? Sure. I mean c’mon, how much more can we take? It’s not fair; it’s just not right.
Can I delight in the grace I find in each moment Rocky returns just a little bit? YOU BET! I am filled with immense JOY and gratitude for his updated prognosis. I rejoice in the gifts I recognize. He is with us, always. Sometimes more perceptibly than others. I have no doubt God worked through the women who hugged me. She was an angel to me that day. I can still see her face and feel the love she brought to me. Jesus said, “When the Son of Man is lifted up, you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but only what the Father taught me. The One who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone."- John 8:28-29
Both feelings (upset at another disaster; rejoicing and gratitude) are normal. Which will I choose to hold in my heart? Which will you choose in your circumstance? My recommendation this April is – seek, find, and treasure the JOYs in life. They may exist in unexpected places, be tangled amid stresses or hardships, or just be subtle. But these joys are filled with light, peace, and hope – just like Easter.
Less than five minutes after M declared his thoughts for “not having pets anymore because it just hurts too much,” I noticed a sign on the wall. I asked permission to have this photo.
Here are a few of those who’ve contributed to our own hearts over the years:
Please honor your beloved furry family members using the comment section below <3
Lillian Corrigan uses writing to learn, inspire and encourage both others and herself. No stranger to devastating, life-altering hardship and loss, she's begun working as a motivational author.