Walking through Adversity

Blog – 9-9-15

Walking Through Adversity

          A friend loves at all times, and a brother (or sister!) is born for adversity.                  Proverbs 17:17 (parenthesis mine)

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After feeling like I spent most of the day on Saturday of Labor Day weekend sweating (whether while on my morning run, attending ArtSplash, or singing at an outdoor wedding!) I was looking forward to a day of relaxing on Sunday. Things started off great. John and I went to church and were joined by one of our sons, Sam, which is always nice. We went out for breakfast after church with Sam and purchased a few Labor Day sale items we needed and headed home. I then went to my sister Kathy’s house on the lake for some much-needed R & R!

The afternoon started off really well, and I quickly got comfortable in my chair by the water. My sister was watching her son and his wife’s dog, Howie, who is an absolutely stunning border collie. Being a huge animal lover, Howie and I had a marvelous time swimming, playing fetch, and enjoying the mild weather. A bunch of us went across the lake and joined one of my other sisters and some of her kids and grandkids at the beach. Everyone, including Howie and Kathy’s dog Lilly, was having a great time. It looked like a Norman Rockwell painting with all the families and pets hanging out at the beach enjoying the perfect last weekend of summer. When we headed back to the house to start supper, everyone, including the dogs, was tired but happy.

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Unfortunately when we got back to Kathy’s house, within a short time Howie started having problems. He threw up, which often happens when dogs go swimming, but things quickly escalated. He eventually collapsed, and we raced him to the vet. Unbelievably, a little over an hour later he was gone, apparently the victim of heat stroke. The vet called it a “perfect storm,” something that was truly unpredictable and unavoidable. It wasn’t even that hot out and the dog had spent much of his time in the cool water, but he plain and simply overexerted himself.

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Howie and Ava

My nephew, his wife and baby all came home to a very sad situation, losing their beautiful Howie, who was only a little over a year old. The worst part was it all happened on “our” watch. It was truly no one’s fault, and the vet said that the dog obviously had a predisposition for this to happen that you could never foresee. Kathy’s dog Lilly was absolutely fine, and there was no indication that Howie was having any issues while we were at the beach. Plus it wasn’t a very hot day. Nonetheless, heat stroke can happen easily in dogs because they just don’t stop. They may start feeling sick, but they keep right on going.

Such a sad day, and I have truly never felt so helpless. Here I am a HUGE animal lover, and this dog basically died in my arms. We raced him to the vet, but there was no saving him. Kathy and I cried in disbelief as we watched him fade away in the vet’s office.

I was feeling very empty when I tried to think of something to write about this week, but Proverbs 17:17 jumped out at me. It’s a perfect verse for this experience, and it says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother (or sister!) is born for adversity.” Kathy and I have been through lots of different storms in our lives. I can’t even begin to name all the times she has been there for me and I have been there for her. The painful truth is I couldn’t change the situation on Sunday, I couldn’t make anything better, as much as I wanted to…but, I could be there for her and help her through it. We shared many tears together in the vet’s office as we walked through that adversity together.

Kathy called me the next day and thanked me for that very thing…for being there with her. We talked over the details again and how absolutely unbelievable the whole situation was, how bad she felt for this happening when she was taking care of the dog, and how it was a total freak accident.

Even though I felt incredibly useless as Howie passed away, I realize that it was a privilege and an honor that I was the one who got to be there for my sister. I know next time she will be the one who will be there for me.

I encourage you, my friend, when someone you love is going through a hard time, you may not be able to change a single thing by being with them, but it doesn’t matter. The fact that you are there is enough. We are not meant to walk through adversity alone.

Hugs and love,

~Jill

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