And I'm not talking about some uses of the word. Like "they lost the ballgame." So what. "I lost my car keys." Certainly a problem but not irredeemable. Or Ronnie Milsap's "Lost in the Fifties." That's actually a nice kind of lost.
What I'm talking about is losing someone close to you. People and pets. And, yes, I'm going to include pets right up there with people, acknowledging that there is a significant difference, but also maintaining that when a living thing is lost, it hurts pretty bad.
Plus, if I didn't lump them together, I wouldn't be writing this particular piece. I wouldn't want to.
Okay. A little disclaimer or maybe a bit of an early revelation here. I don't intend this to be a "down" piece. Maybe not a pleasant little jaunt along one of life's merry paths, but certainly not a big, ole downer. It's just that I had, or re-had, an early morning revelation, a wee hour epiphany, and I need to get it down on paper, as they say.
I've lost both parents. I've lost my brother, my only sibling. Grandparents, aunts, uncles...along with a fair amount of friends. I suppose that living isn't only loving. It's also losing. You live long enough and the loving and losing pile up. Thank goodness that the loving is there to keep us afloat during the losing.
Yet, with all those human losses, it is the recent loss of pets, and most particularly our two wonderful pooches, that impacts me most this day. And, in order to get to the point in as short of a time and in as few keystrokes as possible, I'll cut right to the chase.
Geri and I awoke early this morning as we have in the last many mornings. Morning, as defined by time, and not by light. It was still full dark when we went into the living room, which up until a few days ago was just simply an extension of our dog house, by virtue of almost every piece of furniture having been covered with sheets and towels. By virtue of the fact that we are the type of pet parents who will apologize to guests for there being very little space for them to sit because, after all, our house is just a very large, centrally heated and cooled, dog house. And it is, as they say, a "living" room.
This morning, as in a handful of mornings past, there are no sheets and towels on the living room furniture. Each piece is exposed in all its pre-dog glory. Geri washed all the towels and sheets, folded them, put them into bags, and we donated them to the local animal shelter. As we did the unopened bags and cans of food and the boxes of treats. Baylee's outdoor bed was loaded and delivered in hopes that some little temporary orphan would have a dry place off the ground. Emerald's barely used purple halter (he really looked sharp in purple) may help someone lead their shelter dog to a forever home. That would be nice.
But, anyway, back to the reformed living room. Geri got comfortable on Baylee's couch and I settled into Emerald's super-sized chair with my feet up on the ottoman that was his favorite place to sun. Picture windows, nearly floor to ceiling, face the south. I read for awhile, periodically watching the southern sky lighten and the stars fade into the blooming light blue expanse. Except for one. The morning star, I figured it was, and it seemed to brighten and blaze as the morning continued to dissolve the night.
I gained surprising solace from that single star. I would read for a few minutes in the absolute quiet and glance out the window and watch that huge star flare and glimmer like an indefatigable angel. And, on this morning, it made me think of Emerald. Of his energy and his spirit. Of his intelligence and his loyalty. Of his humility and his hopefulness. And I was comforted. Until...
I paused to look for the star and it was gone. That friendly, comforting morning star had evaporated, right before my eyes. What? I asked.
And then it came to me as clearly as if someone had stepped up right next to me and spoken. You know what I'm talking about. One of those voices you hear in your head rather than in your ears. And the voice said, "I'm still here. You just can't see me." I must have look confused because the voice in my head repeated, "I'm still here. You just can't see me."
I often wonder how many times we must be taught the same lesson. I wonder how many times God needs to tap us on the shoulder with the obvious. I should have known - immediately - that the morning star didn't go anywhere. Whether it's a planet or a star, it's still out there, as big and blazing and glorious as it always is. Moving, but not leaving. Shifting, but not dissolving. Changed, but not lost.
If I wanted to go all scientific on you and talk about the first law of thermodynamics, I could tell you that it states that energy is neither created nor destroyed; it can only be changed from one form to another. But I don't want to do that.
All I really want to do is share my little, wee-hours-of-the-morning shoulder tap from an all-knowing, all-loving, wise-cracking God. Who loves to be cute and watch our reactions.
We don't really "lose" those and that which are close to us. Nothing is really "lost." There are just shifts or moves or changes. All is well.
And we don't want to lose sight of that.