I don't know where to start about my precious Tammy. We made it to 13 years...and one month...which for a Golden Retriever is splendid. She developed cancer in her heart, which quickly spread, so she wasn't sick for too long, and we had a wonderful vet who kept her pain free. She was my side-kick, my cross-country- travel buddy, my constant companion and Velcro-pup... my precious little "Pookie-head", and grey-muzzled masterpiece. She was my family.|
I got her while still grieving the loss of my 16 year old English Setter. (I will allow myself more time this time.) My 27 year marriage had ended, my nest was empty, and I was selling my house to downsize, move across the country, and begin my new life...with her, the little round fluff ball. As it happened, I was in my backyard with her (still un-named) having an all-too-frequent crying spell while trying to navigate my upended life. My son was a Marine, and in Iraq. Every day I sat at my computer...phone in hand, front door in view, praying no Marines would arrive to ring the bell. His unit had lost so many troops that it seemed almost daily that I could find a DoD announcement, reporting yet another fatality amongst the 3rd and 7th..."names not released pending notification of family". Sitting on the cold, icy grass, on a February day in Wisconsin, I cried out to God. "Lord...I know that we're not supposed to ask you to prove yourself, but I am terrified day and night. I'm begging for reassurance. Please...something...anything...to calm my desperate heart. Please God. Thank you, God...". There were no thunderclaps, rainbows, or parting clouds...but I felt better somehow. A couple of days later, sitting in the same spot near the gloomy garden I saw something that changed my life.
I had a very young Tamarack tree that I had transplanted from our Northern Minnesota cabin the summer before. Tamaracks are the only "pine trees" that actually turn orange and drop their needles in the fall. In the spring they shoot up in height, and new needles emerge in the loveliest shade of a spring green, soft and full. And there stood my formerly brown, bare Tamarack tree...tall and straight, beautifully green; in the formation of a perfect cross. I was stunned. I had heard people say such this as, "God 'spoke to my heart'", and on that day I knew what they meant because He spoke to mine; as clearly as if I heard it in my ears. And what He said was that my boy was HIS son...HIS precious child...HIS to protect and care for. That he had entrusted him to me (with all of my flaws) to raise and love, but that - in reality - he was the son of his Heavenly Father. I actually felt a little embarrassed that, in my fear, I had over-looked such a basic truth....I had "missed the memo". From that day on, I surrendered my fears (for all of my children) and trusted God in all of His ways. It opened my heart and changed my life. There's no real way to thank God for His tender mercies, other than to praise Him...but on that day I named my Golden puppy "Tamarack", ("Tammy" for short), to honor the gift of that tree. She was a living reminder of the steadfastness of the Lord. I believe that all of the animals we love are the extended hand of the Lord's love for us.
The rest, as they say, is history. My son, while seriously injured, made it home, and is doing very, very well. And I had 13 years of love from my beautiful girl. I don't know what I will do moving forward. We all know how that feels. I know I just have to "trust the process" of these grief-filled days, believing they will get better. For now, all I can do is be thankful for the time I had her, and all of the joy she brought me. I wish I was as good to her as she was to me. As the poem by Isla Paschal Richardson says at the end,
"I love you so,