Easter holds a great deal of significance to me as a Christian because it commemorates Jesus’s death and resurrection. But, last year, Easter unexpectedly took on an additional significance.
On the first Easter, Jesus died on the cross on Good Friday, and rose from the dead on Easter Monday. He went from death to life.
Last Easter, my dog Max became suddenly and severely ill on Good Friday, and had to be put to sleep on Easter Monday. He went from life to death.
Not once before that weekend did he show any signs of the massive intestinal tumor that would claim his life. He had even been given a clean bill of health by a veterinarian at his annual check-up just a few weeks prior.
Max entered my life just as unexpectedly as he left it. The decision to adopt a dog from a rescue shelter was made on a whim right after Christmas in 2009. There were only five dogs in the shelter that day but it was love at first sight for me. But, even though I knew there was something very special about the dog I named Max, it took me a long time to fully let my guard down with him.
I had been given a beagle for my thirteenth birthday that I had named Sue. Our family wasn’t able to keep her very long, in part because the three of us kids were allergic to her. We found her a good home outside the city but she was struck and killed by a car shortly after giving birth to her first litter.
35 years later, I finally had another dog but my answer this time was to not get too attached. I loved my dog but I kept him at arms length. And he knew it. But, slowly but surely he went to work at breaking down my defences.
I had Max for a total of 2 years, 3 months and 6 days but it was a full year before my guard fully dropped. Max’s death totally devastated me but my main regret is that it took me so long to love him to the ‘max’. It was time wasted.
It seems to me that we should just love unreservedly, without thought for the future, because we will never know the future until we get there anyway.
I really believe that Max was my guardian angel. He was my best friend when I was isolated from family, friends, and civilization. And, his sudden passing became the inspiration for radical, necessary, and overdue change in my life just two months later.
By how Max lived his life, he showed me how important it is to:
- always make time for hugs
- do things with the people you love, even if they’re doing nothing at all
- stay connected to the people you love, even if it’s just a nose bump to their hand or back of their knee
- have fun every day
- see the humor in life, even and especially at your own expense
- be kind and gentle
- be friendly with everyone you meet, even if they’re not always friendly in return
- love lavishly
- live with abandon
- always save the yolk for last
This Easter, and every Easter, I’ll be missing my Max to the ‘max’.