My precious friend Becky, along with her family had to make a devastating decision last week. Most of you remember that Becky is also Nathan's mom.
Snowy, their little white poof of a dog, had aged beyond the help any veterinarian could offer. So last Wednesday, after Herculean efforts, they were forced to allow the vet to put him to sleep.
Snowy had been a part of the Smith family for over thirteen years. That little guy had done much more than his fair share of comforting, cuddling and laughter-creating! We know from personal experience.
He was part of the journey through Sarah's cancer treatments as well as Becky's. He shared their "Gypsy Lifestyle." (The Smiths were evangelists for sixteen years. Nathan and Sarah both were on the road within weeks of being born.) He accompanied them through three major moves. And assisted Nathan and Sarah as they braved the halls of new schools.
Having experienced a similar loss, my heart ached for Becky, Sarah and Steve. But it was Nathan that I was able to hug and listen to as he reminisced.
Nathan was actually the first Smith to request a dog, as I understand it. His level of loss became much clearer when I realized that Snowy became part of my son-in-law's life when Nate was only nine years old!
(When we look at grown men complete with facial hair, muscles and booming voices, we tend to forget that they were first little boys. Little boys with tender hearts.)
Snowy was Nathan's constant companion while the family focused on the battle for Sarah's life. He was the pest under Nathan's baseball cleats through high school. Whatever changes occurred once he went away to college, Nathan knew that nothing ever changed with Snowy.
I listened and watched his clear eyes become a bit cloudy as Nathan talked about the favorite, four-legged family member.
But his main focus made my heart cry. In typical Nathan-esque fashion he shared his perspective. "Yeah, this is tough. But I think the really hard part will come for Mom when Sarah goes off to college. She'll need something to nurture then for sure."
(The focus wasn't his own level of sadness but rather his concern for his mom and her future emotions.)
"I don't know. If it's not another dog it may be her writing or maybe even some new songs. Yeah, Mom's a nurturer!"
No, he isn't in his thirties. But I'll tell you what Nathan IS. He's a deep thinker and a man who understands the importance of feelings.
And that's probably why my youngest daughter is now known as Mrs. Smith!