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Hope For Hurting Hearts

It was a little exchange, one precipitated by my beloved grabbing a dirty glass from the counter and tucking it safely into the dishwasher on a Saturday evening. She didn't realize I'd left it out with the intention of mixing a serving of Carnation Instant Breakfast for an after-supper snack. So, I got another glass and went to the pantry to procure a packet and then to the refrigerator to fetch the milk jug.

Grinning at her, I shook my head and muttered, "The things I put up with."

She smiled, her you're such a goofball smile, and she went back to whatever it was she was doing in the kitchen.

I stopped suddenly, almost stricken.

"You know what I almost said after that?" I asked her.

"No, what?"

Looking down at the floor, I glanced toward the great room and answered slowly, "I caught myself right before I said, 'Right, Ferris?" My throat had a lump the size of an eggplant in it.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It's been over a month, 33 days to be exact, since we lifted him in my truck and drove to Griffin to ease his suffering from a nasty bone tumor that sapped his energy and sucked the life right out of him. Every last one of those 33 days, I've walked in and looked toward the spot where his mat lay in front of the fireplace, and every day I've had at least one moment of expecting to see him there watching me, or perhaps sleeping and dreaming of chasing cats. Every day I've had a second or two where I've almost called out to him, where I've taken a step in his direction to swerve by and rub his graying head, to just check on him. Every single day and tonight, after 33 days, the words almost came out of my mouth. "Right, Ferris?"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A good dog has a way of burrowing under your skin and finding lodging deep in your heart. Mr. Ferris was our companion for fourteen years, and I guess it's normal for it to take time getting used to that big empty spot in front of the fireplace. I guess it's normal for my eyes to sting and burn at odd times of the day when a memory flashes through my mind. At least I hope it is.

Sometimes at funerals I've mentioned that we mourn greatly when we've loved deeply. I don't compare the loss of a beloved family pet to the loss of a human being, but I think the analogy holds true. Human beings are made for relationships, and the loss of a relationship is never an easy or simple thing. Never.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

My heart goes out to the hurting and the lonely, to those sequestered away because of vulnerability to the virus, to those who grieve the passing of one they love - whether recent or long past. It goes out to those who sit by a phone and wait for it to ring, to those who hope perhaps to hear word from one who drifted away or disappeared. It goes out to those whose hearts have been broken and to those who have never found the love they longed for. The list could go on and on.

Somehow or another, I believe the answer lies in leaning into the hurt and the emptiness and then realizing that it all points us to the One who longs to be our ultimate companion, to the One who came seeking the lost. Every relationship we enjoy on this earth ultimately points us toward the one relationship that is meant to be eternal and everlasting.

Sad, broken hearts find their comfort, their rest, their peace in Jesus Christ. That doesn't mean we won't hurt in this life, far from it. It means our hurt and our loss leads us toward God, toward the Healer, toward the One who loves us more than we could ever imagine.

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