Missing Owen: Guest Post by Leigh McLeroy


I’m on vacation with my family this week—in the beautiful Colorado mountains.  I’ve asked some friends to fill in for me here at Kindling.  I think you will find these posts very down-to-earth, but still quite able to start some fires in your heart and mind.

There are two things I've said "never again" to more than once. Every time I've moved, packing up hundreds upon hundreds of books, I say "Never again," vowing to die in whatever four walls currently surround me. And every time I bury a dog I swear, tears streaming, to never love (and so risk losing) another.

I kissed Owen goodbye on Monday. He came to live with me six years and a few months ago, when I wasn't certain I was done grieving another four-legged friend named Chester. Owen was a beautiful boy: well behaved, affectionate, a great companion and an-ever ready traveler.  He was a fixture on the back of the sofa, a space he claimed early and never released. I didn't mind.I wrote two books (The Sacred Ordinary and Treasured) with him curled up under my desk, and he appeared once with me on video, too, at the producer's invitation. Off-duty, Owen slept--and snored--on the foot of the bed each night--eventually migrating up to the pillow next to my head and settling there. His big, brown eyes were the first thing I saw each morning.

For the last three months, Owen suffered hurt after hurt, indignity after indignity. He retreated in pain, becoming less and less himself. Saturday we reached the point of no return. Resigned to the fact that I could no longer help him, I promised not to hurt him anymore.

As we sat waiting for the end in the veterinary exam room, he crawled up in my lap and licked the tears off my face as they fell. It was the most engaged he'd been in weeks. Minutes later he stopped breathing with my face right next to his. "Good boy," I whispered to him. "You're such a good boy."

I loved Owen every day he was mine...whether he was sick or well, playful or played-out, scruffy or sleek, convenient or inconvenient. I loved him because he was mine...and when he became less and less himself, I did not love him less. Maybe more. Maybe, just maybe, I loved him with the faintest resemblance to the determined, no-matter-what way that God loves me.

I pray that Monday I loved him rightly and well, even doing what it broke my heart to do. But tonight, I'm missing Owen...and I don't think that will change anytime soon.

C.S. Lewis wrote,  "Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love at all is to be vulnerable."

Never again? I'll never say it again. And I mean it this time.We love, because He first loved us. (I John 4:19)

What about you?  How have you found love to be vulnerable?

About Leigh: Author, speaker, Bible teacher and "everyday theologian" Leigh McLeroy communicates with a passion for God and a keen eye for his presence in everyday life. Her books include The Beautiful Ache and Treasured, and she writes a free, email devotional, Wednesday words weekly. Leigh is single and lives in Houston, Texas.  You can read more at her website or an Facebook. And check out her books—I love them all!