Losing the right to say, “It’s okay.”
Losing the right to say, “It’s okay.”

Losing the right to say, “It’s okay.”

In late December, while taking our two five-month-old puppies for a walk, a German Shepherd in a back yard a house a few blocks away, scaled the six-foot chain link fence and attacked us.  Thankfully there were no physical injuries, but there are some emotional injuries that will take some time to heal.  The response of the alpha puppy, Pepper (right in the picture), is very different than the more emotional puppy, Ginger.  Pepper, we believe, has fully bounced back, while Ginger shows more fear.  (As for me?  Well, let’s just say I’m not walking by that house again! Oh, and my son Noah quickly bought me pepper spray to put on the leash should it ever happen again.)

Since that time, when I walk them and they show some fear at the loud snowplow or a big dog barking, I do what I normally do, which is to say, “It’s okay. You’re okay.”  Recently when I say those words, I see Ginger glance back at me, as if to say, “You’ve said that before and it wasn’t!”  Now, her response may be my imagination, but as soon as my reassuring words leave my mouth, I’m very quickly aware they might sound hypocritical.  I wasn’t able to protect them that day and it wasn’t okay.  

And feeling brings me back to a much more significant time in my life where I also lost the right to say, “It’s okay,” or “It’ll be okay.”  That time, of course, is when my husband Bob died, thirteen years ago. I lost the right to say that to my children. And ever since then, whenever I have left on any international trip, especially to some more risky countries, and I want to reassure anyone, especially my children, I always have to stop myself from saying, “It’ll be okay.” 

Of course, I know that I was not responsible for either of these events.  But protecting and comforting those we love is instinctual.  It’s how we were made, especially for those whom we are primarily responsible.  

And so daily, again, I’m reminded of my inability to guarantee safety and security.

As I’ve been processing that, I realize that this is the case for millions of parents/caretakers around the world, who are exposed to much worse.  How threatening, scary, and humbling it is to not be able to say those words.  But those living in war zones, in conflict, in poverty, dealing with racism, sexism, and so much more are also unable to promise that “it’ll be okay.”  Bad things happen. 

Letting go of control with loved ones is something we all go through.   It increases my faith in God, reminding myself that He does not have grandchildren, only children.  And the same instinct we have to love and protect our children comes from God, who does the same.  

He doesn’t do it in the same way as us, as His perspective and long-view are much broader, but that He loves us is undisputable as seen in the gift of His own son, who endured mocking, bullying, torture, and ultimately a terrible public death.  

In the end, it was more than okay.  

PS – In case you are wondering, the dogs are from a shelter, and are half Red Heeler (Australian cattle dogs), 1/4 doodle, and 1/4 something else.

PPS – I didn’t really want puppies.  I feel like there is enough to do in this world without taking care of dogs.  But the dogs are what I call my “DML tax.”  In order for my generous husband to allow me to travel as much as he does, he needs company for those long months when I am gone.  So in some ways, these are DML dogs!