A New Door of Compassion

Shared by Missy Fischer

Recently, God opened a whole new door of compassion in my life—a door of compassion for people unlike anything I had never experienced before.

An Unbearable Decision

Buddy, my shiny, eight-year-old black lab, looked up at me with big, puppy-dog eyes. I grabbed his soft fur and caressed his neck, as my hands stopped at a lump on his neck. My stomach fell ten feet below my toes. I knew this was not a good sign. When we arrived at the vet, I prepared myself for the words I knew I would hear.

“Buddy has cancer,” the vet said. I stood in shock. The vet explained there weren’t very many promising options for Buddy. I begged the doctor for antibiotics in an attempt to prove it wasn’t cancer. After we returned home, days went by when Buddy would eat, then refuse, eat, then refuse. I knew he didn’t have much longer. 

Buddy and I took a lot of walks after that. I’ll never forget the sun shining down on our faces as I imagined a place where we would be together again. I spent the next couple of days barely functioning as depression seeped its way in. I was faced with a decision. Suddenly, I realized the responsibility on my shoulders as a dog owner and as an adult. I could barely keep myself together. I kept going back and forth between letting him live and putting him down. I experienced an emotional roller coaster of seeing him look okay, then seeing he was in pain. It was almost unbearable, but I knew I had to make a decision.

A Lesson in Selfless Love

My husband strummed his guitar while the birds above us sang along. The hot sun was beating down on our porch as I stroked Buddy’s soft black fur. His tongue hung out of his mouth as he panted for air. Buddy continued to look up at me with those big, brown, faithful, puppy eyes I had fallen in love with the day I first saw him. I retrieved the steak we had prepared and watched him gobble it down. I laughed at how cute he was eating it.

Missy and her dog, Buddy

Missy and her dog, Buddy

It was finally time.

I recalled how faithful Buddy had been to me all of these years. On days when I had left him home all day and night, he welcomed me back with a big sloppy grin. When my life was turning upside down and I didn’t know left from right, Buddy’s love never wavered. Buddy desired to be with me, no matter who I was, how I looked, or what I was going through in my life. That is grace.

I cried that I would no longer hold him or kiss him, love him, or squeeze his nose. I cried that we would lose our time here on earth forever. I held him in my arms on our hard, wooden floor and caressed his fur. I leaned over and kissed his wet nose, scratched his belly, and told him how much I loved him. When we arrived at the vet, I grabbed the note I had prepared and read it aloud. 

Buddy, as I sit here in my last final hours with you, my stomach turns, and I want to run away with you. I want to frolic and play with you. I want to take you on one more walk, get one more kiss, share one last hug.
But this isn't about what I want now, and I know that. I fed you steak, I took you on three walks, and gave you lots and lots of treats. Daddy played guitar outside and sang as I brushed your fur and listened to the birds chirp on a sunny, eighty-degree day. It was perfect.
We cuddled, you smiled and panted, and you hung in there for me. But the truth is, you're in pain. And it only gets worse. And as selfish as I want to be to keep you forever, I know where your true home is. As I watch you lay here, barely breathing and exhausted, I remember all the beautiful times we had together. I remember all of the laughter, your steadfast love, and your faithfulness.
My heart breaks at this house, our lives, and my heart without you here, but if you've taught me one thing, it's selfless love. And as I sit in agony these last few hours, the thing that keeps me going is returning that selfless love you've blessed me with these last eight years. I lay down my desire to keep you here, and allow you to go in peace. May your last memory be of your mommy—holding you, loving you, comforting you, and being there until the end—promising to see you again in heaven.
I love you, Buddy.

An Open Heart

The days after Buddy’s death were a very dark time for me. I managed to get through the week with many spouts of crying and learning to live without his presence. I prepared for the vacation we had planned the following weekend and wondered how I would keep my emotions together. 

The next week, we arrived in hot, sunny Mexico. Early one morning, I grabbed my devotional book and headed to the ocean. The waves wrapped their way around me, reminding me of their infinity and stillness. I found myself stunned by God’s ability to create this kind of beauty—while trying to secretly submerge my feelings of despair. I opened the pages and stumbled upon the next topic: loss.

Just then, as I opened my heart and let down those hardened walls, one white cloud drifted over my head. It started to rain. As tears streamed down my cheeks and mixed themselves with the rain drops, I suddenly realized that God was showing me how much it hurt him to let Buddy go. I was reminded that when Lazarus died, Jesus Himself wept. I remembered that God, too, in all His glory, weeps with us in our sorrow.

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of their troubles. The Lord is near to the broken-hearted, and saves those crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers them out of them all.
— Psalm 34:17-19

I am beginning to understand part of my purpose here on earth for God and how I can use this pain for His glory. I am beginning to see that through my suffering, He has called me to have compassion on those who also suffer, to remind them of His promises and His hope. God is faithful in every season of our lives—whether it is suffering or blessing, He never leaves our side. He rejoices with us, He laughs with us, and He weeps with us. It is through our suffering that we can remind each other of God’s unfailing love and His unwavering commitment to be with us always. I pray that through my story of losing Buddy, you are reminded that God sees you in your hurt and weeps with you, too.

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