Acceptance, Lessons, and Courage (by Lincoln’s Mom)

Yes, I know that has already been a blog title, but Lincoln is taking a writing break, and I’m making a guest appearance. I think that those words apply just as much to me as to they do to Lincoln, so we’re recycling.
We have old dogs at our house. We have those old dogs on purpose. We rescue them when they’ve been dumped or abandoned or traded in. There has been a glorious safety in that process. When you adopt a dog at 14, you know with certainty, that you will lose that dog in the very near future. Even as you are hugging them at the shelter, you are preparing your heart to say goodbye. In our house we have said hello and quickly said goodbye more times than I care to acknowledge. We have decided that where others will walk away when agile becomes arthritic, we will be the family who shepherds the dogs through at the end. It is not easy, at times, but as I said, there is comfort in the surety.
Lincoln was not that dog. He was barely two when I got him from the shelter. He was supposed to be my sure thing. What is it they say about the best laid plans?
When he was diagnosed with the brain tumor, I folded up into my self a little. I was wholly unprepared to say goodbye. Honestly, I don’t live my life with hope and faith oozing from my pores. More often than not, I have to force myself to admit that something may work out. The brain tumor wasn’t one of those times. I accepted, fully and completely, that he was going die, and that it would be both soon and awful. And then, here we are. My canine miracle fanned that dying ember of hope that remained glowing somewhere, previously undiscovered, inside of me.
And then this, the cancer. Making me wonder if there is a higher power who finds more joy in snatching hope from your heart if the ember is full fledged and growing, and not sputtering its final breath. Forcing my hand to make decisions about life and death that I never imagined I would have to make. Resentment and anguish clung to me like a barnacle to a pier. We lie to ourselves, and try to believe that there really isn’t a choice. Of course we will do anything we can, but that in itself is a choice. Will the surgery kill his spirit? Will I regret it? Maybe it would be better to simply let him slide gently in to the night. Maybe this time, it is about letting go without a fight. And in that vein, who’s fight is it anyway? What right do I have to force him into battle, like a gamecock or a pitbull?
But in the end, the possibility of a cure pulls us into its vortex, no means of escape. We do what we can, sometimes it is hopelessly inadequate, sometimes it is everything. We rely on the most minute and infinite chances at a miracle. We hope that whomever is in control sees fit to breathe life into our dog, and that he will be the one to beat the miserable and discouraging odds. We do it because by believing in something, even something rooted in the rocky dirt of impossibility, we are not only trying to keep him alive, we recognize that it is the only way to stay alive ourselves. We realize, that by trying to save them, we are really saving ourselves, and in the end, that is what courage is all about.
It’s like this one saying that Lincoln told me…”It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Author: credocanis

Lincoln is a huge golden who has had one brain surgery, two ACL surgeries, and one rear leg amputation. Yikes.

14 thoughts on “Acceptance, Lessons, and Courage (by Lincoln’s Mom)”

  1. Beautifully, thoughtfully said and so true. I believe there are lessons to be learned with everything that comes our way; it’s up to us to both try to realize them and grow from them. I’ve learned so much from Catie and her illness and her unflagging will; from Riley and his unrestrained, boisterous joy; through all kinds of heartbreaking confusing times that simply at the time made no sense to me.

    I’ve spent a great deal of my life as an optimistic pessimist (hoping for the best; expecting the worst). But I’m slowly, slowly learning some lessons of letting go and letting be.

    Thank you for this! Lovely.

  2. amen, sister!! every dog, every cat, every animal is true to its purest self everyday. gayle does her best, because that’s her true nature, to be her best. humans have such great teachers, we just need to open our eyes…thanks for a reminder.


  3. Thank you for putting that into words. Major, too, was supposed to be “the healthy one” in my family of special needs canines (selected for their differences and saved from “unadoptable” status). It never ceases to amaze me how these “lost causes” breed optimism when hope seems futile. I think the universe allows us to love these incredible creatures in order to teach us how to be better people. Being a Paramedic means I face life or death scenarios on a regular basis but nothing could prepare me for canine cancer.

    Rachel (Major’s mom)

  4. P.S. I came back to reread your post – it’s just as lovely as the first time, by the way – and wanted to add that that’s a wonderful picture of Lincoln.

  5. What a beautiful blog…tears are flowing but I’m going to read it again and again…I am really starting to dislike the saying “things happen for a reason”….I haven’t figured that all out yet, I guess…

    Tracy, Maggie’s Mom

  6. This is a wonderful post… one I’d like to bookmark and read again and again. Thank you for sharing with us. I could never have said it as eloquently!
    Holly and Zuzu and Susan
    PS – that is a great picture of Lincoln!

  7. Thank you everyone. I was worried that my blog “debut” may not be as jovial and uplifting as it should be. All I really wanted to do was acknowledge how impossibly difficult this journey is. Recognizing, of course, that it is a path we must take, once our hand has been dealt. Each decision forced upon us brings us all to the same place. Hoping and believing that whatever choice we make, while not wrong or right, is pure and true in its intention.

    And yes, Lincoln is awfully handsome, isn’t he?!

  8. Heya Lincoln,
    Your mom has taken over your blog and filled it with mushy flowery words! I think she is trying to make us all cry! Heck, if you need a guest writer Lincoln – I’ll do it!

    “There once was a man from Nantuckett…”


  9. I know I thanked you already, but I need to reiterate my gratitude. After learning today that Major has a third, unrelated cancer (this time pulmonary carcinoma after fibrosarcoma and extramedullary plasmacytoma). You and Lincoln remind me that hope isn’t gone until you let it go. I haven’t quite decided which way to go with treatment but it helps to know I’m not alone in making these huge and life altering decisions.

    Rachel (Major’s mom)

  10. Lincoln, You’re one handsome boy…

    That was a beautiful post your mom wrote and oh so true. We can learn so much about living life from our furbabies… Hope you continue to do well Lincoln… and keep enjoying your life!!! 🙂

    Angel Jake’s Mom

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