When the New Year Doesn’t Start Out Happy . . . (updated with a PS)


I am sitting at our kitchen table, looking out the window toward the mountain. I love that mountain. However, I can’t see it right now, because it’s hidden behind a thick veil of snow.

My husband and I bought this place last March. Although the house is almost forty years old and could use quite a bit of work, we enjoy living here. We were looking forward to ringing in the new year together last night, in our “new” home. Only, it didn’t happen.

Last night, around 6 p.m., my husband had just gotten home after a long day of appointments in the city. We were talking about his day when my cell phone rang. It was his daughter, my precious stepdaughter, whom I have grown to love like my own daughter.

I said “hello” and then I heard sobs. Loud sobs. And somehow I knew it was her beloved chihuahua, Millie.

“Is it Millie?” I asked.

“Mom, she’s dying! She’s dying! I don’t know what to do!”

Millie had gotten old. When my stepdaughter brought her three dogs here for a visit recently, although Millie was running, playing, eating, and drinking with the others, something in my spirit told me that I would not see Millie alive again. I cupped my hands around her then, I told her what a wonderful good girl she is, and I said a prayer for her. But in my heart, I knew that I was saying goodbye. “Please tell my cattle dog, Lady, when you get to heaven, how much I miss her,” I whispered. I knew Millie would remember our sweet Lady.

“Mom, I can’t do this alone. I want to bring Millie in the car and come there, okay?”

At first I automatically said sure, that she was welcome to come here. But then I started thinking: she lives an hour away, it was dark, it was snowing, and the mostly rural roads between here and there are notorious for unexpected herds of deer and pronghorn antelope, not to mention the occasional fox, mountain lion, and black bear. Still, our daughter is a careful driver.

But then I remembered the certainty I had felt in my spirit that I would not see Millie alive again. The thought of her dying while my stepdaughter was driving in the dark, in the snow, in the middle of nowhere — no, that would be too awful.

“Never mind, don’t do it. Just stay where you are please, sit down and hold Millie. I will come to you. But I will stay with you on the phone…”

“No, Mom, I don’t want you driving on these roads in the snow! And I know you are still feeling sick!”

“Honey, listen to me, you have to stay there. I did not want to tell you this, but the last time you brought your dogs here for a visit, I felt like the Lord told me that I would not see Millie alive again. That means she won’t survive the trip. Please, you need to stay there!”

She reluctantly agreed. Then I put her on speaker and we cried together as I hurried to get ready to leave. My husband, her daddy, was talking to her over the speaker while I got my things together.

Suddenly our daughter cried out, “She’s dead! Mom, Dad, she’s dead! Oh God, WHY?”

And then I stopped what I was doing and I wailed with her. As I sobbed, I remembered sweet Millie, the way she was when we first met her in the summer of 2008. I was also remembering how broken I had felt when I was home alone with our two dogs, on March 10, 2015, when our elderly cattle dog keeled over and died in my arms.

What do you say to someone you love so much, when her heart is shattering, and you know exactly how horrible she feels? In my 60 plus years of living, I have only found one way to get through grief, and that’s to FEEL it. Drinking alcohol, or taking any other substance to numb the feelings, the way I did after my dad died in 1988, only prolongs the grieving process and ultimately makes things worse in the long run.

We cried together for a long time over the phone last night. It wasn’t as ideal as grieving together in person, but it was better than crying alone. Then it was decided that her daddy would go and spend the night there instead of me, because she had already cried most of her tears out with a mom, and now she needed the strength of her sweet loving dad. Besides, I was really feeling weak at that point, still not fully recovered from the flu.

And so it happened that I spent New Year’s eve cuddled on the sofa under a comforter with our little 20 pound rescue poodle and our big 70 pound rescue yellow lab German shepherd mystery mix dog. When midnight came and people all over town set off fireworks, even in the freezing snow, I calmed our fur babies’ fears as I thought about Millie the chihuahua, and Lady the cattle dog, and Farley the wonderful otterhound that we rescued in 2005, who died in my arms in 2007.

Then I raised my arms in praise toward the Lord, the great and wonderful Creator who gives and who takes away, and I thanked Him for dogs, I thanked Him for the great gift of life, and I thanked Him for the hope of heaven that I believe we all can have, through the Savior, Jesus the Messiah.

And I thanked God for this New Year, 2019, whatever this year may bring.

God bless you and thank you for stopping by. I love my blog readers. I really do.

PS: If you pray, please say a prayer for my stepdaughter, not only about her grief, but the fact that she works at an essential government job at a nearby special ops military base, and she probably won’t be getting paid until the government gets itself straightened out. The good news is that my husband and I own the mortgage on her house, so she won’t be in danger of losing her home. But things like money for electricity, and gas to drive to and from her department of defense job, and food, and copays for her medical care… whew. It’s going to be tough for awhile, for so many people!