I watched as the off-white bundle of fur, which appeared to be insulation at first glance, tumble across the street. As I glanced at the mound in the middle of the road, my eyes caught a man on the side of the road as he sprinted to the middle of the street, directly in front of my car. In a flash, he was on his knees in front of the bundle. My eyes focused more closely as I approached the scene and I noticed a body harness collar and then saw his face. The peaceful face of the sweet pup, eyes closed, body relaxed, lay in the middle of road. His owner, whose heart was surely stuck in his throat, lifted the head of the pup to assess the response of his best bud who just got struck by a car.
That was it. My car passed the scene and I frantically tried to process what I just saw. Kai and Ella, from the backseat, were talking loudly over each other, asking if that was a dog. ”Mom! I saw him! Did that dog just die, mom?” I wanted to turn my car right around and head back to see if I could help, but quickly remembered that my sweet son, who has anxiety about any kind of harm caused to living things, would surely have nightmares. I wasn’t sure how Ella might handle being in the presence of a dog who just passed accidentally either, as she can’t even stand to see ants die. ”I know he’s going to the vet mom, and he will be okay,” were the words I wanted her little soul to believe.
Confident that there would be a handful of loving onlookers there to lend a hand, I picked up my phone and called my husband, who happened to be in the a car traveling right in front of me. I said, “Hey, you see that? Tell me that it didn’t really happen.” The silence on the other end of the phone indicated that he was just as shocked as I was.
I continued to drive, distracted by the image of the owner’s face as he ran to cradle his best friend. I felt the devastation and guilt that was flowing through his body, and I couldn’t imagine, for the life of me, what lesson or purpose this could possibly have. Where is the purpose in this trauma?
“It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” -Alfred Tennyson
Two hours passed and I couldn’t shake the images and feelings of loss and devastation. His life was an innocent one, and was surely filled with many walks on that leash, slobbery kisses for the people in his life whom he loved, and dedication to the man who cradled his body after the impact.
Each day, I strive to find purpose. I understand that our physical beings are a shell for the soul that experiences this life and know that we are here to learn, to grow, and to love. Pain is an integral part of our journey, for if it didn’t exist, there wouldn’t be a joy that also matches the intensity of pain we experience. It is easy for me to sit here and tell myself that purpose can only be found in joy and beauty, but that disregards the other half of life, the half that is wrought with pain, with unexplainable and senseless loss. If we can grow in the face of loss and trauma, we can begin to see a more complete picture of how our growth as souls are affected by dichotomous experiences.
This half of the coin sucks. I just don’t know how else to say it. I imagine that the owner of that dog is experiencing pain too deep to describe. As an onlooker, if I have a hard time finding purpose in such a senseless loss, I imagine it might be close to impossible for him to see much of anything but despair, at least for now.
To who ever might think that purpose is just about the magic and beauty is sorely mistaken. The real challenge just might be finding purpose in senseless, traumatic, and devastating loss. Could a tiny piece of this puzzle be about the love that man and dog shared here in the physical world? Perhaps about learning from this loss? I bet if you asked him, he would say that he does not regret the decision to share his life with this sweet dog. I imagine that he is a better person for being that dog’s dad.