It’s been one full trip around the sun since I said goodbye to Luke, my canine soul mate. I don’t remember the logistics of that day, but I remember with clarity the palpable realization that life without Luke would be agonizing. Grief is a thorny issue indeed. Does anyone ever get over magnificent loss? I don’t think so. I think the pain and sorrow pierces right into the core of our being and transforms us into something else entirely. It crashes over us in waves, revealing emotions and desires that we often leave neatly tucked away as we go about our tidy little lives. Death is a violent assault against our souls, plain and simple. It’s unbearable and unavoidable. To love greatly always requires that we open ourselves to the reality of great loss.
I was right. Life without Luke is agonizing. Sure, there are moments of joy sprinkled amid the heaviness. But isn’t that everyone’s reality? Life is struggle. Life is also a gift that is beautifully breathtaking, filled with moments of unutterable splendor. Losing Luke has forced me to view life’s moments through a different lens. No longer do I take the grace gifts of life in stride. I see the miracle of moments more readily. Realizing that the cycle of life is rushing along with full momentum, I’m more able to surrender to the inevitable and embrace the goodness that’s often tangled up in the messiness of a broken world.
After all, the richness of the relationship that I shared with Luke was a grace gift. I don’t think I would have ever described it as such, although I felt it deeply. Isn’t that always the case, though? The most profound emotions are complex and words to accurately convey elude us. To be known and loved completely without an ounce of pretension or malice. That’s a miracle in this hateful and utterly broken world. It’s undeserving. It’s scandalizing. It’s exactly how Luke loved me. Simply put, dogs are proof that God loves us. They’re a four-legged reflection of the agape love that is only attributable to God.
I’m grateful for the gift of Luke in my life. I loved him fiercely. I still do. But it was his love for me that brings into sharp focus the sheer goodness that unexpectedly comes upon us, engulfs us, transforms us. It’s subtle. It’s often wrapped in unassuming packages. It’s easily taken for granted. But once our awareness is piqued we either struggle and strive to hold onto that goodness and ultimately lose it or we surrender to it, breathe it in and let it recreate us. It’s the magnitude of the goodness of the gift that violently contrasts the anguish of losing it which leaves us broken. But through brokenness comes abundance. Ann Voskamp says it best, “for a seed to come fully into it’s own, the shell must break open, it’s insides must come out and everything must change. If you didn’t understand what life looks like you might mistake it for complete destruction.” I thought that losing Luke would destroy me. Turns out it did. It wrecked me. To say that I miss Luke is a massive understatement. But through brokenness comes abundance. Abundant joy, love and goodness transcend the grief as time marches on.
Until we meet again, sweet Luke.