I just scored lowly on an Emotional Healthy Inventory. Taken from Peter Scazzero's book, The Emotionally Healthy Church, the test revealed my low tolerance for "Embracing Grief and Loss." On the other principles of emotional health, I rated well. Grief and loss induce thumb-sucking.
Perhaps the greatest emotional loss came when my parents put my dog to sleep. Liz and I had returned to Worthington for a weekend break from college. News of my dog's condition was not good. Tumors covered her body. Lethargy slowed her movements. When she greeted me at the door, her tail wagged for the first time in a week and the last time of her life.
We took the dog to an emergency clinic. We knew the clinic was not going to remove the tumors. But it would take away the dog's pain. My father paced the hallway, choking back tears. My mother stared at the floor. When given the choice, we opted to hold our dog when the vet administered her shot. She did not flinch. We sobbed.
I remember my father wrapping his arms around us: my mother, Maggie, Liz and me. Only one other time had I seen my father so emotionally unraveled. He wailed. Our tears intensified.
Other experiences in my life have merited grief. Broken friendships and buried loved ones. Dashed hopes and unwarranted criticism. Personal failure and family suffering. And a lifetime as a Cleveland Browns fan. But nothing has rivaled the death of my dog and the decades of repressed sorrow that flooded from my father's eyes.