“Goodbye, Gracie.”

Today our family said goodbye to Gracie, our eldest dog. She is now buried in our backyard in the woods near the creek — a place on our property that we will treasure.

At 12 years old, she was no young pup anymore. But as the alpha sibling of three other mutts, Gracie was wise. She seemed regal at times. Poised.

Until there was thunder.

Then she was a howling, door scratching, nervous wreck.

But we all have our issues.

What I will remember most about Gracie is how much my children loved her. At 75 lbs., she was a perfect snuggle buddy for watching movies, and loved being in the TV room with the family.

She never complained about whether we were watching sports, a decorating show, or a war documentary.

Gracie just wanted to be with us. And we wanted her to be with us.

She was part of our family.

Which is why it is so hard to say goodbye.

Relational attachments, even to pets, run far deeper than we imagine. Like roots underground. You don’t realize just how interwoven in the soil they are until the tree is pulled up.

That is what death does, whether the death of a dog or a human loved one. It exposes the roots of affection that have been growing below the surface, in the soil of the heart — affection we may not have even been able to fully express until the one we love is gone.

So, today, as we grieve Gracie, we are loving on our other two dogs with an extra dose of nearness. They are usually outside. Not tonight. They are near. Close.

As close as we can keep them.

We don’t want to miss a moment. Or an opportunity to show them how grateful we are that they are ours. Grateful that they love us. Unconditionally.

And isn’t that the strongest, most powerful, influential, world-changing love there is?


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