Last week, I wrote about the call to surrender.

This week, I was given an opportunity to dive deeper into surrender when my dog, Bailey, became critically ill. (Don’t worry, this story has a happy ending)

When we’re faced with the potential loss of a loved one, we become acutely aware of the fact that we truly have no control. We maneuver around our daily lives pretending to be in control but when it comes to death, we can do everything in our power to help, but in the end, it’s not up to us, no matter how desperately we want things to go our way.

How do you possibly surrender to that?

Last Friday when we came home, Bailey didn’t run to greet us like she usually does. She didn’t give us slobbery kisses, or circle around our legs, or knock us down with her excited 120 pound body. She remained in her bed as our other 3 dogs ran to us and did all the above. When we called her, she barely had enough energy to lift her head.  

We knew something was wrong but decided to wait until morning to see if it persisted. Maybe she just has a tummy ache, we thought. We coaxed her into the house where she crawled under our bed and remained the rest of the night.

On Saturday morning, she wouldn’t get up and we knew something was terribly wrong. We took her to the vet who suspected Pyometra, an infection in the uterus that’s life threatening if not treated immediately and aggressively. Our vet gave us the strongest antibiotic they have and told us to monitor her closely. It was a long holiday weekend and she warned us that if she got worse over the weekend, we should get her to the Emergency Room right away.

On Monday morning, we woke up to find her under the bed breathing heavily and panting as if she’d just run a mile, except she hadn’t. In fact, she hadn’t moved much in 2 days except for the short bursts when we forced her to go outside and walk in the grass in our feeble attempts to deny reality. We thought if we could just get her up and moving, she’d feel better.

But the reality was that Bailey was not well enough to move around. She was dying.

We scooped her into our car and rushed her to the ER. She had a fever and her white blood cell count was extremely high. They told us they’d need to keep her overnight, start her on a second antibiotic through IV and push fluids and pain meds into her right away.

I wished they would’ve let me sleep in the kennel with her. I would’ve curled up behind her, spooning her, and stroked the soft fur behind her ear all night long. She loves that.  

But instead, we kissed her good bye knowing that this might be the last time we saw her alive. I told her what a beautiful soul she was and that we’re blessed to have had nearly 2 years with her and that we hope for many more.

In many ways, we feel like those were stolen years.

You see, Bailey is our miracle dog. She was dead when she came out of her mama around Thanksgiving 2016.

She was #9 from a 10 puppy litter. It took her 7 hours to come into this world after the first one and I guess she suffocated inside her mom’s womb. We gave her mouth to mouth and literally breathed life into her. My man tried rubbing her and breathing into her for a few minutes but her wet body remained limp in his hand and he gave up. Too much time had passed, he thought. Then my step-daughter looked up at her dad with tears in her eyes and begged him to try again. This was the first litter she’d ever experienced and she was heartbroken. He breathed a couple more breaths into her and suddenly her tiny body started to wiggle and she started breathing!

(Baby Bailey barely one day old)

From that moment on, it felt like every breath she took was a stolen breath, as if it wasn’t supposed to be. Somehow she was able to escape the Angel of Death that time, but when will he notice and come back for her?

Bailey cheated death again a few weeks later when she ended up with a mysterious infection that landed her at the animal ER the first time.

This weekend was her second time at the ER. And her third time escaping death.  

She’s our miracle dog.  She’s a fighter. And she’s my teacher.

She taught me how to deepen my surrender.

It’s one thing to surrender to life when things are going well or even so-so. It’s another to surrender when a beloved family member’s on the brink of death and the helplessness and pain you feel is insurmountable.  

This is when you’re challenged and faced with a choice to either resist and get angry, or accept and find peace IN THE MIDST of your pain.  

This is your opportunity to deepen your surrender.

Surrendering doesn’t make the pain go away, it lays a comforting blanket of peace over it.

It curls up behind the pain, spooning it and strokes the soft spots in your heart.

Life presents us with plenty of opportunities to surrender, we simply need to first, answer the call, then deepen.

When you use your hardships as divine invitations to deepen your surrender, you become a dancer in life’s song, flowing with it instead of against it. You’re in harmony with life and while you know you don’t have any control, you also know that you have the power to co-create with life.

Surrendering doesn’t mean you sit idly by and let whatever happens happen. Being a co-creator means you do everything you can in your power while you let life do what it does in its power, and you surrender to the outcome.

Even though I surrendered, it didn’t mean I let my dog die under my bed and not take her to the vet. Instead, I did everything I knew to do, taking her to the professionals who were trained to help her, asking for prayers and healing vibes from my sweet compassionate Facebook friends, and continually turning doubts and worries over to the care of God, moment to moment.

Surrendering isn’t a one-time deal and it’s done forever. The depths of surrender are endless. You might surrender and be okay with the outcome in one moment and then the next, someone asks you about your pup and the fear of losing her overtakes you.

Then you surrender again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

Each time you make the choice to surrender instead of allowing yourself to get carried away in worrisome thoughts, you strengthen your surrender muscles and it becomes easier and easier and you sink deeper and deeper into surrender.

Each time I started thinking about what would happen if Bailey dies, how awful she must be feeling, how difficult it would be for her brother and mom who held vigil near the spot under my bed where they last saw her before we whisked her away to the ER, how life would be without her, how much pain she was in, what was she thinking all alone in the ER, does she understand what’s going on, etc…. I would remind myself that there’s ALWAYS a bigger picture, there’s ALWAYS a higher plan and reason for ALL things and that it’s my job to surrender to the forces that orchestrate the symphony of the bigger purpose. It’s not my job to understand it, it’s my job to surrender to it. This is what it means to surrender. To release the tight grip on my desires and trust that the bigger desires of life are playing out the way they should be, no matter what happens, and to know that I’m a part of that beautiful symphony.

If you’re facing a challenging time in your life right now, answer the call to surrender… and then go deeper. Hardships are only hardships when you refuse to dance with life’s music. When you surrender to the song, you’ll discover that you ARE the song. Embrace your hardships as opportunities to deepen into life.

Bailey made it through. She’s back home with us and while she’s still on a lot of meds and healing, she’s happily playing with her furry family and greeting us with slobbery kisses when we come home.

(Click here to see my Facebook post and more photos of Bailey’s journey)