The mattock cut into the ground again and again. Every time I raised it I slammed it down even harder. It felt as heavy in my arms as my broken heart did in my chest. Still, I powered through the pain and finished loosening up the dirt. I tossed the mattock aside, picked up a shovel and began to dig. Sweat and tears burned my eyes but I didn’t stop. I kept going until the aching in my arms and back matched the aching of my soul. Only when I was too exhausted to go on did I finally drop the shovel and look down at the body of my friend. My old pal of thirteen years lay stiff upon the ground. My beloved dog was gone.
Harley was a black Lab and Husky mix that we had rescued from a shelter. Over the years he had made friends with every neighbor I had. His gentle manner and wagging tail won over every heart. His big, furry body attracted hugs like a magnet. His fun-loving nature made everyone smile. He was as sweet, loyal, and loving a friend as any man could ever want. I was a better person because he was in my life, but now his time with me had passed.
I gently lifted his body into the grave I had dug and thanked God again for giving him to me for so long. As I covered the grave with dirt and heavy rocks I thought about what someone had asked me the last time a dog of mine had died. “Why do you have dogs when you are only going to go through such pain?” As I finished my work and wiped the dirt, sweat and tears from my face I knew the answer.
Because it is worth it. The Love is worth the pain! The Love is ALWAYS worth the pain!
We are meant for love. God put us here to love. If death and pain are part of the price we must pay for that love, then I will pay it. Love is what makes life worth living. And love transcends even death.
As I walked out of the woods I pictured Harley young and healthy again. I smiled at him as he wagged his tail and told my old friend to return to the love that made him, just as we all will one day do.
I love you Harley. I miss you. You were my dog and my friend and you blessed my life more than I can say. Thank you for the love you shared and the joy you gave.
Joseph J. Mazzella [email protected]