One of our dogs is missing.  I’ve mentioned him before.  His name is Ruger, and he had tumors, large ones, on his forehead and chest.  He had a seizure about a month ago; I wrote a post about it.  That night, I thought he was finished, that his tumor had eroded his skull and caused him to have encephalitis, or that the pressure had caused a cerebral herniation (for the non-medical, a mass may push the brain down through the base of the skull, cutting off blood to the rest of the brain.)  However, up he bounced after two hours, for a drink of water and snack of cat food.

A few days ago, when out for his routine bladder relief, he wandered into the woods.  We live in the center of 60 acres of South Carolina forest.  It’s trees and blackberries, Mountain Laurel thickets, deep ravines and creeks, rotten logs, coyotes, hogs, rattlesnakes and all the rest.

My youngest boy is devastated.  Every night, he wakes, thinking he heard our old dog bark in the vastness of the forest.  Last night I lay in bed with him, listening through the open window, trying to discern the sound of that familiar, hound-like bark that old Ruger always makes.

This is three nights in a row since he went missing; three nights my boy hasn’t slept.  He misses that dog.  Mind you, the dog is 15, and well beyond the normal life-span of a large, Lab-mix.  But still, my boy hasn’t ever known life without him.  I guess it represents change and loss to a child who hasn’t seen much of either.  I understand.

He asked me a couple of days ago, ‘Papa, why don’t adults cry much?’  I thought about it.  I thought about all the things we see in medicine, in life; about all the death and loss, the cancers and injuries, the miscarriages and broken families, the sorrow and sadness of our friends, the divorces, the drunkenness, the children lost to drugs, the fear that life casts down upon us at times.  I said, ‘well, I think it’s because we see so much that it takes a lot to make us cry.  See, as long as my family is here, and safe and well, I’m thankful and content.  So even though we love Ruger, it’s not as bad as it could be because you and your brothers and sister, and your Mama are all OK.’  ‘But Papa, Ruger is family.’  A good point.  Why aren’t I crying?

I realized recently that as the children grow up, I miss their tears.  Not that I want to make them cry, or want to see them sad.  See, when they’re little, their tears come from so many things!  And those things are often issues I can fix.  A bruise, a scrape, an unreasonable fear, a broken toy, a thing desired, a bad dream.  Their tears are the unfiltered, unedited honesty of their hearts, and the unashamed declaration of their need for me.

As they grow, as we all grow, we suppress our tears.  Sometimes rightly, sometimes falsely.  For the things that make us cry are harder and more difficult to heal; and our suppression drives the pain deeper, like a thorn not removed but pushed further into our hands.

My boy has a good point.  Why dont’ I cry?  Why don’t we all?  We have good reason, don’t we?  It’s a hard life out there, and keeping it in doesn’t make it any better.

Even ‘Jesus wept,’ as the shortest verse in the Bible says.  So if it was good enough for him, why do we fight it so hard?  I don’t know.  But I wish sometimes I could learn, again, to cry.

Please say a prayer for Ruger, and for my worried, grieving boy.

By the way, my child has decided that perhaps, since we have no dog and no corpse, that Ruger was like Enoch or Elijah, and just walked away with God.  I think I like that thought best of all.  His tumors melted, his step became lively, his fur soft and new and off he ran into heaven.
May God bless you and show you amazing things today!  And may we all learn to cry again, so that the Father may wipe our tears away.

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