My dog Bella

The tears are streaming down my face in the shower. I can't  decipher where the tears start and the stream of water coming down my face ends. What I can feel is the visceral pain that starts in my chest, then shocks down my body in little electric jolts  that shoots out in the groans that come out my mouth.

I thought I would be okay. My sweet dog; a beautiful chocolate lab was gone. For 15 years Bella was a solid foundation in our family. Memories came flooding back in my mind. The girls when they were little running around the backyard with this rambunctious puppy. Nights with a blanket on the couch and Bella snuggled up right next to them. Every afternoon, when they arrived home from school, Bella was there wagging that big tail with a "hello!" and a sloppy doggy kiss.

Bella was the best hunt dog too. My husband spent frustrating hours training her after work. Everyone told him he should send her somewhere to get a professional to do it. Mike wanted to try to do it himself. He read all the books. He ran bumpers over and over with commands and hand signals. Later on that year he took her duck hunting. His friends couldn't believe how on point she was. She loved it. I missed her when he would take her for the weekend. When she came back, she was ready for me to cuddle with her and rub her tired body.

There were frustrating parts with her too. Tearing into my wood furniture. The fireplace mantle; and don't even get me started on my favorite shoes or sandals. I just couldn't stay mad at her for long. That goofy smile of hers won me over every time. When she got older, she would sneak in the kitchen at night and grab an avocado. She would take it back to her bed and eat the whole thing and sleep with the pit. When we woke up the next morning she would look up at us as if to say "What? I had a midnight snack!"

Years went by and the time came when she just couldn't hunt anymore. She was tired and gray. She still loved her walks with me and now the kids were grown and gone. It was just us. So I added a buddy for her. Lola gave her a run for her money. Two different dogs; Lola is a Britney Spaniel, but they learned to love each other. They each had their position in the family.

Yesterday after 15 wonderful years with my sweet Bella, we had to say goodbye. One daughter had since moved back home. This was her dog. She couldn't stop kissing her goodbye.

Love is a funny thing; it pumps up your heart like living blood flow, and bursts it apart like a broken dam. Yet we come back to it every time. I need the  love for an animal or human in my life. The love I feel right now though is God's comforting arms. He whispers in my ear "I am holding your tears; each and every one. Go ahead, I got you.”

It's okay to feel this, because it was worth the love I felt . Joy and pain. It's all a part of life. This part sucks. I will be okay. It's also okay to feel pain. We don't like it, but we will never know how amazing love and joy is without also experiencing pain.

Today I'm protecting my heart. I'm taking it slow. I'm asking God to guide me on my next steps. I know for a while I will be all over the place in my emotions. I will just walk forward and wait for joy to hit my soul again.

By the way; if you have other pets in the house when your one pet passes, they do get sad. Lola has been crying all day and running to the door looking for Bella. We are comforting each other. She is staying close by my side. I feel comforted by that.

When you go through a hard patch in your life; treat yourself well. Give yourself time. Let the tears flow. Breathe. Feel. Emotions are real. They are there for a reason, even if we don't like some of them.

Tomorrow I will smile a bit more. Each day will bring something new. I trust in that.