Well, I have sad news to add to this chronicle of Alley life. Two days ago our dog, Bella, was killed on a highway near my parent's home. She had run away one night while some of us were setting off some fireworks. She was afraid of them. We were leaving there this morning explaining again to the kids why we were going home without her...she had run away and Pop-Pop would get her if someone called and said they found her. We had hung up signs and were checking one of them out as we turned on the highway. We began to accelerate and soon Jimmy began to slow down. He wouldn't tell me, even though I kept asking, why he was stopping on the side of the road. He had seen her in the grass shoulder and was going to make sure it was her. I knew of course but tried to remain optimistic. He tried to lie to me when he got back in the van but I knew. We pulled into a gas station and had a little pow-wow. I said we should tell the kids. He reluctantly agreed. There was just no way I could lie to them about how she might come back and someone might find her, etc. So he went into the gas station and said I could tell them. I don't think he wanted to be there.
I sat in the seat and basically just said it. It ended with "...and she got hit by a car or a truck and she's dead." Not exactly sugar coated but I've never done this before! The middles, who sit in the very back of the van, both burst into tears. I wasn't expecting this. I immediately crawled back there with them and helped them feel better with words and motherly touch. I never had the need to believe that animals go to heaven but I had no problem telling my 4 year old that she was happy in heaven now. It was great opportunity for telling them that God knows the number of our days and that everything He does is to take care of us and for His glory.
It of course hasn't even sunk in totally but I've been okay with it. It's hard to understand but really it has just made me thankful that I lost an animal I loved and not a person. Because if the animal leaves a void, I can't imagine a human member of the family. I almost lost it a few minutes ago (this is what made me go ahead and write all this) in the van I was on the way home from dropping Jackson and Libby off and two different birthday parties. So it was just me and Cash and Penelope in the car. We passed a man walking a black dog and Cash said, "Mom! I just saw a man walking a dog that looked like Bella!" I said, "Yes, I saw it too, Cash." And then Penelope said something about wanting Bella to come back.
What transpired for the next 10-12 minutes (a long time in kid conversation) was a discussion about where Bella was and what had happened to her. Cash wasn't sad, he just plainly told Penelope that Bella got killed and now she was dead but that she went way up into the sky into heaven and she is alive again. It really touched my heart! Amazing how he has totally moved on. How he's happy to tell others that she is alive with God in heaven. Later he said, "I think God has dog food in heaven because he has to feed Bella." And, "Penelope do you know who God is? He loves us and we love him and when we die we will go to heaven and see Him and Bella!" Penelope finally got it sort of and said, "Bella is dying" and Cash said, "No! She's alive again!" So this was very confusing to Penelope and I had to ask Cash to lay off the alive again stuff so that Penelope would understand. It was a moment I know I will never forget. It was priceless to have the older ones away so that Cash could talk about it without being corrected or interrupted. Hearing his conclusions about all of it really warmed me.
And now a few words about Bella. She was a great dog. We got to have her for one year, and as much as I hated her shedding and watching her eat poop, I will miss her too. She made me feel safe. I slept every night knowing she would never let anyone get past her to our bedrooms. I knew she would warn us of any danger. She was so very tolerant. The kids would dress her up, lie on top of her, attempt to ride her...and she never complained. She had soft ears and a soft heart. I was constantly amazed by her loyalty towards us. She was just a "dumb dog" but sure did love us, even when we didn't deserve it. I hope we can do the same for each other. Stick together no matter what. Thanks Bella, for loving a crazy family like ours. We'll miss you!