“Just standing, sometimes, is a sign of strength.” – Pastor Steven Furtick
These were some of the opening words of the most recent sermon of the series How To Be Brave at our church. I think it no coincidence that the timing of this series is unfolding at a time that I most need to be brave. A time where every bit of me just wants to climb back into bed right now to hug Frank’s blanket and go to sleep to escape my thoughts of his passing and now absence in our home. It is taking every bit of strength that I can muster to stand. To be brave and stand.
On October 26th, 2009, a stray dog wandered into our lives. We were driving home from photographing an engagement session when we spotted him running loose…dangerously close to I-277. He was such a fast runner that it was a miracle we were even able to chase him down and get him into our car. He had a tattered yellow rope around his neck, signifying that he had broken free from wherever he had come from. After he was vaccinated at our local vet, we brought him into our home.
(picture below is in the parking lot of our vet…just hours after we found him).
He was absolutely filthy, had fleas like you wouldn’t believe, wasn’t neutered and peed all over everything. On top of that, you could see his ribs, he was so malnourished. We spent the better half of the next day calling shelter after shelter after shelter. No availability…anywhere. I think I fell in love that next day when I looked up from my phone to see him belly up, snoring on our couch. Who knows if he had ever experienced such a thing as a couch before.
We would soon learn that Frank was sick. Very sick with heartworms and would need treatment if he was to survive….very expensive treatment. Especially for a dog that wasn’t even ours. We researched vets and took him to the one that offered the cheapest treatment; Indianland Animal Hospital. Such kind and loving people working there.
After getting him well, it became my personal mission to find him a permanent home. We tried and tried and tried and tried some more. Finally, about 5 months into the process, someone wanted him. At that point, there was no way anyone was taking our Frank from us.
He was ours and we were his.
This past March, Frank was diagnosed with heart disease. With medication, he lived more than 6 months. A little before 5am on Monday, Frank’s battle with his disease was over.
Losing Frank has been one of the hardest things I think I’ve gone through. It might sound dramatic to many, as to many, he was just a dog. But he wasn’t just a dog or just a pet to me. Through the past five years this dog has become my friend….one of my best friends. And he was a true member of our family. He’s been there with us through a lot…through the best of times and the worst.
Dealing with this grief has been incredibly overwhelming and difficult for me. Everything in our house reminds me of him….when I look at the full garbage can in my office, I think of how he had developed a bad habit of pulling pieces of paper out and chewing them up. I look over at his dog bed that we had planned to keep for the other dogs…it has his shape permanently indented in it. When I wake in the morning, I look down to the floor where he often slept to see the space empty. When I sit at my desk, I remember him coming next me nudging my elbow to give him a cuddle. I look over to the light coming in through the sliding glass door and picture him there basking in the sun. And I think about how sometimes, I would take a few minutes to get down there on the ground with him and lie next to him. Yes, he was a dog, but he was part of my everyday life and I loved him deeply.
I think a friend of ours said it perfectly when she expressed her condolences in the instagram post that I put out on Monday:
“Love you, Frank. Rest easy knowing you did what God sent you to do down here so well.”
We are so grateful that Frank was brought into our lives and that we got to love him and receive love from him for five years. His purpose…surely, it was fulfilled.
* The opening image of this post and all images shown below were photographed back in July by Megan of Lime Green Photography. Megan – looking at these again now that Frank has passed has me even more overwhelmed with gratitude. These images are priceless to our family. Thank you so much.
And finally, I’ll sign off with this….a video that Geoff made for our family to remember our sweet Frank.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us through this. Your love has been felt. Greatly.
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