Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Lessons from Lucy

Lucy and me the day we met.
I hate those phone calls.

The ones you get where you can tell the minute you pick up that there is bad news to be delivered. The extra hesitancy that lingers on the other line; It is endless. 

This weekend I had to say goodbye to my sweet dog Lucy. She was relaxing in the living room smiling those dog-breath riddled teeth one second and the next she was gone. 

Lucy was an incredible dog.
Lucy taught me how to love others unconditionally, to forgive, to not care so much about the little things, and to cherish every second that you have with your people. 

What if we loved like our dogs? What if we really decided to be the people that our dogs saw in us? What would that look like? 

When nobody is ever mean to you, there is no understanding of such a concept. 
When humans are hurt by others, they build walls, they stop trusting others, they turn bitter and sometimes get angry or violent. The same is true with dogs no question, except their ability to rehabilitate after abuse is a lesson for us all. When a dog has been hurt, accepting love begins to come easy. It's like they know that love is exactly what they need.

Nobody was ever mean to Lu. She was brought home as a furry ball of squish and she didn't go a day in her life treated badly. Sometimes we came home late to feed her dinner, and sometimes she couldn't hold herself anymore and had to defecate on the carpet in the dining room. (Of course, then she'd put her tail between her legs in shame, as if it was her fault that we left her in the house too long.) And don't get me wrong, I'm not watering down the pain that associates with holding your bowels for too long. 'Tis is a pain no one should have to go through, It does, however, bring home the point that Lucy lived an incredibly loved life.) Can you image your life if no one ever hurt your feelings? A life where no one ever stole all the good sharp crayons from the box or laughed at you the first time you tried to work out in the weight room or told you that you needed to lose some weight or said that you just weren't good enough for this or that?

A little girl once told Lucy she was fat, and asked me if I fed her hot dogs, but Lucy had a limited English vocabulary so her getting bullied by a chubby girl on a ferry to Kelley's Island doesn't count.

As a result, the concept of "mean" was foreign to her. She had no understanding of what it meant to treat someone badly.

Such a life is pretty impossible for humans. Babies are brats. And adults are babies. And there are cynical butt holes that are going to be rude, and selfish and irrational. But that doesn't mean we can't try. We can welcome our people with the joy that a dog brings us when we enter the room (even if we've only been gone for twenty minutes). We can treat each other like we've never been hurt, like "mean" is a foreign concept. 

Who cares what you look like? 
Lucy was born with a defect that required a surgery and left a crooked scar on top of her head. She was completely ignorant of her abnormality her entire life. She was 75% fur, and this would sometimes lead others to mistake her fur for fat.

Lucy didn't care. Because Lucy didn't know. She didn't sit in front of the computer looking at less fluffy dogs. She didn't research surgeries to remove the scar tissue and straighten out her crooked face. How would a dog be able to even understand the idiotic concept where we all strive for perfect bodies? So why should we?

Cherish every second you have with your people.

There is no joy in the world like coming home to a happy dog who is indubitably enthusiastic at your arrival. You could have had the world's worst day. People could have told you that you were an idiot four million times, but when you walked in that door and there was someone there crying with joy at your mere getting home, all of a sudden you don't feel like an idiot anymore.

I had to pack my bags and leave for college at the end of every summer to a dog that would cry. She knew I was leaving and she cried.  It made me cry too. Every time. 

I hope to greet the people I love with a bit of that genuine excitement. I hope to cherish the minutes I get to spend with the people that I love. 

As a believer who's questioned every bit of a God's existence on a weekly basis, friendships like mine and Lucy's have served as a witness for me to keep faith in a Father with a heart so big it rivals Lucy's. As a believer, I hope to love others like she did, helping others try to understand what it means to believe in a higher power who represents love. 

I'm not sure I'll ever meet a person with as big of a heart as my sweet Lucy. But I know if I approach the world with even a sliver of the love she did, I am set.

Lucy, I will miss you so much. Thank you for teaching me how to appreciate everything, to love unconditionally, and that sometimes you have no other choice in life than to just poop on the carpet.

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