"Black and white lab mix; very loving," the ad read. From the moment I saw the ad for her in the newspaper, I knew that Blaze would be the perfect dog for our nine year old son, Stephen. And she was! We adopted the five month old puppy from a woman who had found her living on the streets of Tallahassee, Florida. Blaze and Stephen became instant best friends. Just a few months after getting Blaze, we moved from Florida to the hills of Tennessee, and Blaze moved with us. She was one of the family.
Then when Stephen was only thirteen years old, tragedy struck our home. One warm afternoon in February of 2001, Stephen crashed his bike jumping a mound of dirt in our town's park. He died while being transported by helicopter to our area trauma center.
God and dear Christian friends sustained my husband Greg and me through this nearly devastating event, and our lives were changed forever. Blaze, too, missed her friend. But what perplexed her the most was our grief. During the first month or two, while I was crying or both praying out loud and crying, Blaze would sit at my feet and stare into my face. Then one day, I think she finally understood the depth of my sorrow, and it was too much for her to bear. From then on she left the room whenever I cried or prayed aloud. Now, two and a half years later, Blaze still leaves the room when she hears so much as a sniffle!
One rainy day, about a year and a half after Stephen's death, Greg was working at home on his computer, I was out running errands, and Blaze did something very strange. Blaze, who is a very obedient dog, is not allowed in our bedroom. She will sit at the door and look in at us sometimes, but she won't ever go in.
On this particular day, however, Greg found Blaze lying on the floor of our bedroom, peering out the door, with a frightened look on her face. Greg was very annoyed at her behavior and scolded her for being in our room. Then, as he was walking back to his office, he looked into Stephen's old bedroom and saw something on the floor in front of the closet. At first he thought it was a leaf or a piece of dirt and stooped down to pick it up. It was a tiny frog! Greg carefully scooped it up, put it outside in the rain, and watched while it hopped away.
Then the memories came like a flood. Greg remembered the way we had enjoyed frogs when we lived in Tallahassee. On rainy days we would watch them crawl across our glass doors and catch bugs. At times we found them in our basement, the kitchen, and even in the car.
Greg walked back into Stephen's room and looked at the colorful wooden frog hanging on the wall. It reminded him of those fun days in Florida and of our fun-loving son. Then, looking around at all the pictures of Stephen in the room, Greg began to weep. The tears ran freely. Grief was back. But it was good to remember those precious times together and to grieve deeply because of having loved much.
Greg was then able to pray and thank God for the years we had with Stephen and for the joy he brought into our lives. Greg recalls, "As I left the room, I was amazed at how much this seemingly ridiculous incident-- a frog in Stephen's bedroom, comforted me. It was almost as if Stephen were there somehow. This was the kind of playful prank he would play if he were able to do so."
Perhaps our very sensitive dog was cowering in the "off-limits" bedroom because she saw what Greg did not-- an invisible messenger bringing comfort in the form of a frog.
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