Our dog–Dudley–that damn dog. He worked his way into our hearts and found a space that only he could fill. He would not be ignored. Nope, not Dudley. He was obtrusive, loud–a bull (dog) in a china shop. He was also gentle, kind, loving, and did not have a mean bone in his body.

His body is no more. Our sweet Dudley is gone. And while the nature of his demise is horrific–a freak accident that never should have happened–it is also prophetic and chivalrous if you believe in such things. I do.

At about the very same time–almost the exact time–our sweet Dudley left this world, our sweet son was in a car accident and walked away unharmed. Random acts? Coincidence? Maybe. I prefer to think that Dudley took one for the team.

Whenever a loss occurs, I always ask, is it better to keep your distance and build a wall strong enough to protect you from the heartache that follows, or is it better to love fiercely, with abandon, and experience the crushing devastation that is inevitable?

Our family loves fiercely, and we will mourn fiercely. But we will focus on what we had, not on the circumstances of the loss. And we will focus on who we still have with us, whose loss we could not bear. And we will focus on each other because that is where we get our strength. And we will continue to love fiercely despite the pain. The pain is worth a lifetime–however long or short–of boundless love freely and openly given and received.

So, yeah. That damn dog. He loved us as much as we loved him, which is no surprise to anyone.