This is my favorite picture of Cinnamon Sprinkles (June 12, 2002 - March 1, 2014)
As a 20 year pastor, I conducted hundreds of funeral services. Even during the past 6 years ago, I’ve conducted a few. There are people who remind me once in awhile that I have promised to conduct theirs. I tell them that my schedule is booked for the next 10 years, so they are not allowed to die. So far, most of them have cooperated.
As a dad, I have conducted a number of pet funerals … cats, dogs, lizards, goldfish. I dug a grave and then the family gathered and we thanked God for how much each pet blessed our lives. Then everyone else went back to the house and I finished the burial.
This past weekend, I had a solo funeral for the first time. When teenagers get puppies, you don’t think about how the teenagers are going to grow up, move away, and leave you with old dogs. We got two Golden Retriever puppies from the same litter (although we got them a couple of weeks apart) in August, 2002. When Cinnamon Sprinkles arrived at our house, she already had that registered name. Mrs. Sweetie said it sounded like the stage name of a stripper. How she would know …
She was a man’s dog from the beginning. The first day we had her, she followed me around like, well, like a puppy. She was to be favorite son’s dog and she was raised like an almost 12-year-old boy would raise a dog. They wrestled, played ball, and swam in the pool while her sister, Kiley Ann, was being groomed and snuggled by a 14 year old girl. Kiley still thinks she is a 75 pound lap dog.
Cinnamon loved playing ball more than anything. She would fetch until the ball-thrower’s arm was worn out. Even after she developed the cancerous tumor on her foreleg a couple of months ago, she would limp over to me with her ball when I went out to feed them. Feeling sorry for her, I would gently toss it just a few feet so she wouldn’t have to go far. Over the past few days, when she even lost interest in her ball, I knew it was time to make that final agonizing trip to the vet’s office.
That solo funeral was a lot harder than I expected and it reminded me of a couple of things. One is the power of family. Regardless of the source of grief, when family leans on one another, we are stronger. The other is a response I sent to a friend who sent a text message of condolence. I wrote, “Thanks. It is a part of the journey. The only way to miss this part is to skip the good part.”
Our lives matter so much to God that He has given us the capacity to FEEL. If we could not feel grief, we would not be able to feel joy. Today, I am incredibly thankful for both.
How do you embrace the power to feel?
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