“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to 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.” — C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves)
Tears have fallen today, though we knew this day would come. Our “Arnold Bean”, the once chubby beagle had to be put to sleep at the ripe old age of thirteen. The pain that loving brings is climaxed upon the death bed and perhaps purest in the tears of a child. Yet would we choose to not love, even an animal, in order to avoid such pending hurt, as death comes with life? Would we avoid affectionate attachment, so as to not feel inevitable anguish?
My daughter’s good bye offering to her beloved pet was a video montage which she made from the last pictures of today. Heart felt and tear invoking, her thirteen year old heart morned in an innocent and truthful way. My son, who chose to go with us to put the “old man” to sleep, made some deeply profound statements, as he rubbed his “best friend’s” head. Even in his eleven year old mind, he understood that both Lucifer’s fall and man’s fall were affecting his lovable beagle Arnold, and that because of sin, even the animals must pay the price and die. The sweet little boy that he is, said, “I am going to weep and weep for my best friend.”
Life means death and there is no escaping the pain that it brings. As C. S. Lewis stated, “Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.” In order to live the highest joys, one must experience the lowest lows. Loving an animal, especially for a child, is the first steps of experiencing life and death, joy and pain. These may be the baby steps that help prepare for the loss of a grandparent or friend and should not be discounted and avoided, but embraced as part of growing pains that go along with life in a fallen world.