Bailey was not only a pet; he was a member of our family. – Ryan
Yesterday, my family had to say goodbye to Bailey, our family dog for 13 years. In the recent months, his health had been declining from cataracts to a collapsed trachea. After losing his ability to walk, Bailey became increasingly frustrated and agitated. He wanted to walk, run, play and do the things he was used to doing. Now, it was time to say goodbye. Via FaceTime, I was blessed to join my family in saying goodbye at the local veterinarian. No doubt, February 7, 2014 was a tough day. Bailey was not only a pet; he was a member of our family. To honor his memory, I want to share some lessons I learned from his life.
Lesson #1: The Ministry of Presence
Bailey did what he was created to do — be a dog! As a part of his nature, Bailey knew instinctively when to come around you without any prompting. I remember the long days of college and seminary when stress levels were beyond human comprehension. As I was working or decompressing, Bailey would walk in my room and sit. He knew I needed his company. And he didn’t have to say a word. His presence was enough. Every holiday or family gathering, Bailey was in the center of the action (hoping to get some food too)!
Bailey had the ministry of presence. He was just…there. How we could all learn from this. Sometimes, we feel the insatiable need to say something or do something. Bailey taught me in simple ways to just be there in the moment.
Lesson #2: It’s Not That Serious
Admittedly, there are times when I can take life’s situations way too seriously. Bailey didn’t have time for that! The simple things gave him pleasure…good eats, nice weather, sitting in the sun, playing with his toys, and lapping up lots of water. When I would see Bailey, I would always say, “Man…what a life!” In my joking around, I realized a real life lesson — don’t take yourself so seriously. Enjoy every moment. This life and the time we have is precious.
Lesson #3: Move Forward
As I type these words, tears come to my eyes. Since my start at Seton Hall University in 2000, Bailey has been a part of every life moment — classes, work, transitions, family deaths, graduations, moving, and my own wedding (we had him wear a doggie tux at home). This Yorkshire terrier had the biggest of hearts in a tiny frame. But, he moved forward after bouts of sickness. Watching in real time was surreal and reminded me that life keeps moving forward. We cannot stop even with our futile attempts to do so.
Our family will mourn Bailey’s loss. We will cry and grieve. In the midst of the tears, we thank God for the gift of this small dog who brought large smiles to our faces everyday. Thank you Bailey for being you and in the process, learning from you. Thank you for a great 13 years. We will never forget you!