On her way to pick-up our granddaughter, Landrye, from KidsQuest Day Camp today, Nancy stopped and bought two balloons — a black one and a white one.
With Landrye right beside her, she made her way to the foot of the majestic and moving sculpture, Jacob’s Dream. Towering high above, Jacob’s ladder to heaven is filled with angels — the largest known depiction of this Old Testament story in the world. As a spot for special moments, this little bit of West Texas real estate is prime.
A guessing game ensued between grandmother and granddaughter, “What is special and black and white?”
The answers tumbled out rapidly, “A zebra. A panda. A white tiger.”
“Think of one at our house. Black and white and really special.”
Nancy smiled as she thought of our little dog. Mottled with black and white fur, she won hearts with her incredibly attractive face and soulful eyes. Over fourteen years old and a sweetheart, Snoopy was technically a farm dog. For a number of years, she had been Nancy’s dad’s companion. Criss-crossing the half-section of farmland, she had proudly chased barn cats and occasional wild turkeys. Primarily she was known for her tail-wagging. Standing maybe 8 inches tall to the top of her head, she was a bundle of energy.
When we lost Nancy’s dad, Snoopy moved to her adopted home in the city. She was a wonderful companion to our old beagle for several years until Tipi moved on to a place in our memories. Snoopy became the center of our attention and she lavished love on us.
Early this morning, Snoopy spent her last moments with us and on this earth. Worsening seizures and other complications of a dog whose life would be measured at almost 100 human years brought her to that point of no return. She left us with her same spirit of sweetness.
The news of her passing was not shared with everyone.
Nancy now turned to Landrye. “The black balloon stands for our sadness. The white balloon reminds us of the gladness we feel when we think of God’s care for all creatures great and small. Now, when we think of Snoopy, we see her released from the pain that her many years brought her. In our hearts, she’s a puppy again.”
As the balloons left their hands and floated skyward, granddaughter and grandmother felt their sadness and their gladness weave together into a memory. Landrye understood. A friend had been lost.
We often measure the passing of someone or some thing loved by releasing only one balloon. The dark one. The one of questions. The one that drains our energy.
Today, Nancy reminded Landrye and me — and now you — of that all-important, all-healing second balloon.
When life presents sadness, God provides gladness. And that gladness never overshadows the sadness. Instead it twists together with the threads of difficulties and misfortune to form a fabric that stretches heavenward — our bridge to a loving and caring God.