Wednesday morning I said goodbye to my beloved dog Cindy after 16 1/2 years together. Today I said goodbye to my cat AJ, after 14 1/2 years. I have owned my house for 15 years, but tonight is my first night alone in it.
I was prepared for Cindy’s death, I knew it was coming since she was well past her life expectancy. AJ had some issues that we had been trying to address, but I did not expect them to elevate so suddenly. While I wasn’t as attached to AJ as I was to Cindy, that decision was still difficult.
The hardest part of this week by far was the way Cindy died. Because she had experienced a few traumatic incidents in the past two years, she tended to get stressed easily. I tried very hard to communicate this possibility to the staff and they assured me that at the first sign of stress, they would administer a sedative to help Cindy relax. I laid hands on her before we went and specifically asked God to protect her and make her final moments peaceful. However, when they took her in back to prep her, she got stressed, and because they did not help her immediately, it quickly elevated to a full panic. I could hear her screams from the other room and it devastated me. The one thing I did not want to happen was happening.
They finally gave her a sedative, and when they brought her back to me, she was pretty incoherent. From there the procedure went quickly and she would not be in any pain ever again.
Yet I still am haunted by what happened. Her final moments were panic-stricken trauma, separated from me. Her screaming yelps still resonate in my ears. I am racked with guilt. Why didn’t I do more to help her? Why didn’t I charge into the back and rescue her? And why did God in his sovereignty allow that to happen, especially when I specifically prayed to him about it just a few minutes earlier?
There are many different issues involved, one being the parallels to Jesus’ death. The night before Cindy died, many Gospel references were on my heart. I prepared her body for death by brushing her and spraying a bit of perfume on her. As I tended to her, my tears fell on her feet. As I fed her, I knew that I would not eat again until it was over. And then the traumatic event happened where she cried out.
Every Easter season, one detail of the story always gets to me – Why did Jesus have to be flogged?? He had to die for our sins, yes. But why the flogging? And while we are at it, other questions arise – why crucifixion as the manner of death? Jesus endured a horrible, painful, suffocating death, hanging there for six hours before his final breath.
So as I ache for my loved one who suffered, that must be the same type of feeling that Mary had as Jesus’ mother, and John had as his beloved disciple, as they stood at the foot of the cross. And couldn’t it also be how God felt? That is tough because God had the authority to control it. He could have stopped it at any time. God could have made them skip the flogging and kill Jesus quickly. Jesus himself admitted that he could have called upon legions of angels to help him at any time. Yet he did not. Why?
And while Jesus hung on the cross, he cried, “Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachtani,” “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus is God, he knew why he needed to be separated from God, so why did he ask that question? The same question I asked as I sobbed in the exam room, listening to Cindy’s cries. Why, God? Why have you abandoned us?
I am going to dig into the Scriptures on these questions and see what God reveals of himself through it. My prayer is that initially this will help me deal with Cindy’s death. In addition, such a study, painful as it may be, can only lead one closer to God, which is where I need to be.
So, join me?