These Lilies of Hope
Last year I bought a bunch of Asiatic lilies after Easter and planted them in large pots, hoping they’d pick up again the next season. After watching my neighbors’ lilies flower early, I figured mine might not make it this year. I still hoped, though.
Sometimes, hope is all we ever have.
It’s been a rough week since Justice the puppy died. I never met him, but, like a lot of people within our rescue community, I had enormous hope for him, for his welfare, and for all of those whose lives he touched. And then . . . he was gone. What more could we hope for now? All of the love and the outpouring of support — what good did it do for him in the end?
I’ve thought about this almost exclusively since early last Saturday morning when I experienced the extreme hope I had for him vanish as quickly as it came. Hope shifted into sadness, anger, and even guilt that humankind somehow failed him.
Throughout the week, the words in the text message I received upon his death resonated, though: “Justice died. He was giving kisses and wagging his tail until the very end.” I realized none of what happened the week before was in vain, that even though I’d lost hope, Justice never did. That’s what matters. This wasn’t about me or the people hoping for his recovery; it was only about him.
The truth of the matter is that hope carries on, even in death. The memory of Justice is alive and well for all who continue to fight like he did. Until the end. Giving kisses. Wagging tails. That’s what good it did for him in the end. His life might have been riddled with cruel abuse, but he wasn’t loveless: He fought to show love, and he died knowing it.
In the shelters, on the streets, and in our neighbors’ backyards, there are many animals who’ve been shot, burned, left to die on chains, locked up in kennels for their whole lives, starving, without a kind heart ever known. Justice’s story made the news, but the abuse doesn’t begin or end with his experience alone. He was one of many, and I hope without limit that other animals will benefit from the lesson that was unfolded here at the expense of this young life lost, sadly so.
As I said before: Sometimes, hope is all we’ll ever have, but now I believe that’s not a bad thing as long as we still have it.
Preparing mentally for tonight’s candlelight vigil in Justice’s honor, I sat in the hammock with my little dog watching the clouds and feeling the chilled breeze after this morning’s storm when my attention turned to the pot of stubborn lilies.
Just as I’d hoped all this time, they finally bloomed.
Today. This day. Of all the days.
May his memory always give us HOPE.