It pays to read the fine print . . . I don’t think that most of us really take the time to read the fine print . . . even when the print occurs on the rear view mirrors of our cars. Did you know that the rear view mirror on the passenger side had the words: “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” They’re there, and judging by the number of times I get cut off by drivers merging into my lane, I don’t think too many people have read the small print that appears there as a warning. This phrase is a required safety warning in the United States. It is meant to protect lives.
It has only been a few days since the unexpected death of my dog, Maddie Rose, to a seizure. It has been a tough couple of days, but they are getting easier. They have been getting easier thanks to the love and concern of so many people who have expressed their thoughts and prayers to us—the family—concerning the death of our beloved pet. It has been amazing to see the response each of us has received . . . it is truly good to know that we are loved and cared for.
Three days ago . . . well, three days ago, I didn’t know. I didn’t know how much people loved and cared about any of us. I was too wrapped up in the process of grief over losing my dog. I was going through all of those stages of dealing with an unexpected death . . . and, there were tears. Tears that I did not want to shed . . . tears that I fought . . . but, tears that fell nonetheless. I was too wrapped up in surviving the shock of it all . . . too wrapped up in the grief . . . to see the outpouring of concern and love.
Rear view mirrors allow us to see behind us . . . to have hindsight. They say that hindsight is 20/20. I don’t know about that, but in looking back, people who cared were “closer than they appear”. For that, I am thankful. In that feeling of being lost . . . of being alone . . . of mourning for a loved one . . . relief and comfort seemed so far off in the distance. Yet, the reality is that it was closer than I thought.
The previous blog that I wrote about Maddie’s death had nearly a hundred views in the first 48-hours . . . I was surprised that the death of my beloved pet would be learned about by those beyond my family and friends. I was surprised by the response my children and wife received when they shared the news on social networks . . . there was an outpouring of love and concern and prayers for them and the whole family. I heard from individuals who were kids when I knew them and now are adults with their own families . . . heard them express their love and concern. I heard from ex-classmates from seminary and fellow clergy from around the United States . . . heard them express their condolences and concern. I heard from my friend—the guy who dragged me into the ministry . . . share his concern and love. I heard from the friend who watched our dogs when we were away for too long . . . heard her concern and love, but more importantly her sorrow at having lost her friend suddenly and unexpectantly. Heard from those I work with at the university . . . from members of the wife’s congregation . . . and, I even heard from the staff of the Partnership Ministry of Montana. What seemed so far away was actually closer than I ever dreamed.
One of the things that occurs when any of us experiences a crisis, accident, or situation that hurts us, is that we experience “tunnel vision”. The world in which we live and exist suddenly becomes very small . . . we are unable to get the whole picture . . . we are focusing on surviving. We all do it, and we all need to do it . . . it is an act of survival. Sadly, these obscures our view of the real picture of what is happening around us . . . we are unable to see those objects—those loving individuals—who are actually a lot closer than they appear in the rear view mirror.
The reality is that I, nor the rest of the family, was ever alone in the death of Maddie . . . we were surrounded by a great circle of family, friends, and individuals who cared about us and loved us. They held us in their concern, love, and prayers . . . concern, love, and prayers that would not let us go in our time of need. For that I am thankful. It has made a difference.
So, to each of you who expressed your love and concern for me and the rest of the family, I say “thank you”. You have made a difference and it is good to know that you care. Your presence has made a difference . . . and, the sun came up the next day. We will miss our beloved Maddie . . . my buddy, my dog . . . but, we have appreciated the love that has filled that void in our lives. Thank you for sharing in our tears . . . may I—may we—have the opportunity to do the same for you when the time arises. Those objects in the rear view mirror are a heck of a lot closer than they appear . . . for that I am thankful!