As I’ve shared with you guys many times before, these “When Love Shows Up” posts are very difficult to write. I started writing them just over two years ago when a tornado completely derailed my milestone birthday. It was an event we’d spent months planning. And to say I was disappointed having to spend my big birthday huddled up in a tiny bathroom riding out the storm was an understatement.
Looking back, I can see I put way too pressure on the entire day. But at the time, I had just closed the chapter on my life as a vendor at 3 different antique malls and I knew, that I knew, that I knew, that year, my milestone year, was going to be the year that changed everything.
And it did, but not in the way you’re probably thinking.
I couldn’t have imagined, two months later, I would be writing another, “When Love Shows Up” post, this time, after my grandparents passed away within 36 hours of each other.
These posts were never meant to be a series.
Yet after you guys were so sweet and supportive, I decided to keep writing them. Mostly, to cope with what felt like devasting losses. And also, as a reminder to myself and everyone who read them that it’s possible to turn pain into purpose even on the days you don’t feel like getting out of bed.
There is no way you guys could have known this, but after writing those initial posts, I found out that one of you had lost your Dad, two of you had suffered miscarriages, one of you had prayed for a long awaited adoption that fell through, four of you had lost your furry family members, one of you lost your job and still another found out you had cancer.
Once I realized there were so many of us dealing with unexpected losses, it seemed natural to continue the, “When Love Shows Up” posts if for nothing else to raise my hand and say, “You’re not alone. I know this is difficult. I struggle sometimes too.”
I won’t lie to you guys, this post, “When Love Shows Up on Easter Sunday,” in honor of our sweet Jelly Bean has been physically hard to write. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve spent almost 2 years as a caregiver getting 4 hours of sleep or less every day and I’m really tired. Or if I’m just angry at the way she passed.
I just feel kind of empty which thankfully, I know is normal. I’ve literally sat down to write this post no fewer than 7 times and each time I walk away unable to finish it. I’m hopeful though, the writer’s block will be lifted soon and so I keep going back to my desk with optimism.
I honestly can’t believe Jelly’s been gone a week now. We knew it was coming. I’ve shared of her struggles with canine dementia so many times before but in the end, we knew there was nothing else the vet could do to help give her a good quality of life.
Still, I find myself heartbroken I can no longer hear the pitter patter of her feet or feel her soft fur snuggled up against my neck.
We miss her dearly.
Truth be told, she almost didn’t survive our initial meeting. We were driving home from church on Easter Sunday about 8 years ago when she ran out in front of our car. I can still smell the scent of burnt rubber to this day as we slammed on the brakes.
We quickly jumped out, completely panicked, we had badly injured (or worse) whatever we had almost hit, and it was only then we realized it was a small dog. The minute we opened the car door though, Jelly’s tail was wagging feverishly, and she immediately ran into my arms.
She had no collar or tags on, we didn’t even know her name. So, we did the only thing we could think of at the time, we brought her home, gave her food and water and made her a makeshift bed in our garage. I should note here; this is reason number 521,3497,910 you should have your pets and animals vaccinated. It never occurred to me she might have rabies, much less, she might try to bite me.
I realized for the first time on the way home, love had already shown up because neither of those things happened.
The next morning, we hung up “lost dog” signs around the island. We took her to the vet to see if she had been chipped and to make sure she didn’t have any further injuries. We already had 2 other dogs at the time, and we had zero plans to add a third one to the mix, especially another Jack Russell terrier.
Every day we hung up signs and made phone calls to the local vet’s office. We asked our coworkers and family members if they wanted a sweet little dog.
But the strangest thing happened.
Not only did no one want her, every morning we hung up the signs, they magically disappeared and were taken down every night. To this day, we still do not know who removed those lost dog signs, but we will forever be grateful for whoever took them down and for all the people that said no.
For their no’s led us down a path of adventure with our sweetest surprise, our most humble challenge and our best yes because love showed up as Jelly Bean.
Over the 8 years we had a chance to enjoy Jelly’s presence in our lives she rarely gave us a bit of trouble. Don’t get me wrong, it was not easy to integrate two female Jack Russell terriers in the beginning.
Jelly was a street dog. She was scrappy and feisty because she had to be. Tally on the other hand had lived a life of privilege, she was clearly the poopsie of our family and she knew it. I didn’t think we’d ever get them in the same space without drama.
Thankfully, we didn’t give up on either of them even when it got hard. It was easy to love them through it because Jelly taught us patience and persistence. And I’m so glad she did because she and Tally wound up being the best of friends.
In fact, I never knew dogs needed each other or spoke their own language until I saw Jelly and Tally together. Their hearts sang the same song and they brought comfort to each other more times than I can count.
Jelly grieved Tally’s death as we did, and for months I thought we might lose her too. Jelly would check the rooms of the house searching for Tally constantly. During the day she would lay by the peach tree in our back yard waiting for her and at night, Jelly would lay in front of the pantry waiting for Tally to come home for dinner.
It was heart wrenching to watch.
As the days turned into weeks and weeks into months, Jelly finally came back around, for a little while any way. She was never quite the same after Tally died though and I’m almost certain Jelly hung on because she knew we needed her.
Jelly became my constant companion rarely leaving my side. She would lay on my clothes, nap at my feet and was just out of shot on nearly every picture I took for a blog post. She was faithful and loyal and a gift every single day. A sweet surprise we had no idea we even needed.
But that’s precisely when love shows up isn’t it? Love shows up exactly when we need it even if we have no idea, we need it. Even when we can’t find the message in the mess. Even when our circumstances feel out of our control. Even when things are difficult, and we’ve given our best, but we feel completely empty anyway.
Love still has a way a of showing up whether we realize it or not.
When we came home from the vet’s office for the last time, last Monday without Jelly, I felt physically ill. Our normal vet was delayed in surgery, so we had a completely different vet than what we had expected which led to a completely different experience than what we had previously experienced with Tally before.
As I walked through the front door, the wave of finality hit me like a ton of bricks, and I swear I could feel a piece of my heart break. The only thing I wanted to do was to be outside on the swing where I’ve rocked both Jelly and Tally numerous times.
Through my angry tears, I prayed for peace. A peace that passes all understanding. It was the only thing I could think to do.
Truly, there is no way to understand the loss of 2 grandparents and an uncle, to have to clean up from a hurricane and a tornado, to have to handle the aftermath of S’s accident, my Dad’s heart attack and then deal with the passing of both Jelly and Tally – all in two years’ time – it just felt overwhelming.
I’ll be honest with you guys, as I sat on that swing under a bright blue and cloudless sky, I thought about how easy it would be to become negative and cynical. To not believe in love or in having a purpose, or living a grace filled life or that good things are still in store for us despite how it feels right now.
But I know that is not how love works. Our lives are constantly filled with opportunities to turn pain into purpose when the challenge arises. For when we really stop to think about it, we were blessed with many more gifts of joy than we were ever given heartaches.
Love shows up in a million different ways even if we can’t see it or hear it or feel it. We are promised, it’s always there.
We can find it in furry wet kisses, in gentle nudges, in challenging situations, in keeping our word, in nurturing each other, in showing patience when we don’t feel like it. Love can be found in the sounds of little feet getting closer and closer, in a tail wag that’s so excited the minute you get home, it’s like there is no one else on the planet but the two of you. Love is in every scratched belly, in bath time, in early morning snuggles and in the quiet moments of saying goodbye.
I’ve come to realize love can show up at any time, day or night. It shows up in the most ordinary ways and sometimes in extraordinary ways too just like when Jelly showed up for us on that Easter Sunday.
Love will always be there, if we just take the time to look around and welcome it into our lives.Until next time, I’ll see you on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.