The Gift of Life

On Thursday, December 7, 2006 Jeff and I became parents.  We did not become parents in the traditional way, but we became parents nonetheless.  We became parents to a sweet little girl, who we named Parker McKenzie Weaver-White.  Parker was a gray Miniature Schnauzer who would change our lives.  In the months leading up to us adopting Parker, Jeff and I had been seriously contemplating becoming parents in the traditional way.  We had been together for four years.  At the time that we were discussing our future as parents, I was 34 and Jeff was 32.  We felt as if we were the right age to have children.  We were secure in our relationship.  We had good jobs with no fear of losing them and we had love.  We knew that there were children who could benefit from the environment that we could provide for them, but the more we talked about it the more it just did not seem right for us.  We knew we had love to give, but we really did not want to make the lifelong commitment that comes with raising a child. So, we decided that having children was not right for us.  

I have to say that once we decided that children were not in our future, I was relieved, but I was sad at the same time.  I felt there had to be a way that we could share the love that we knew we possessed, but I really could not figure out what we should do.  The morning that the idea of Parker was born, I was driving to school.  I came to a stoplight, and as I was sitting there these words enter my mind as clearly as anything I had ever heard.  The words were, “You may not be able to have children, but you can have dogs.”  At the time, I thought it was my own idea and my own thoughts echoing in my head, but as the years have gone by and I have developed a deeper appreciation and knowledge in the ways that God works in our lives, I know now that the voice I heard that morning was the voice of God telling me what to do.  

When I got to school, I immediately called Jeff.  This was in the days before texting, and told him that we needed to get a dog.  Jeff had wanted a dog for a long time, and I had given him every excuse under the sun why we should not have a dog.  So, when he heard me say that we should get a dog, he sprung into action to make it happen.  I think in some ways, he was afraid I would change my mind.  Jeff had always wanted a Miniature Schnauzer, so he started looking in the classifieds for someone who was selling them.  It did not take him long to connect with a lady who had two Miniature Schnauzers left from a litter that her dog had recently had.  They were twelve weeks old, which is fairly old for a puppy not to have been adopted.  

In the days leading up to us going to look at the dogs, Jeff and I began discussing names.  We knew that we would get a girl, so we were talking about all sorts of girl names.  We talked about naming our little girl Doris, after Doris Day.  We talked about naming her Harper, after the show Mama’s Family, but nothing seemed right.  I was in the shower thinking about what we should name our little girl, when this name came to be as clearly as the message that we should get a dog in the first place had come to me.  The name was Parker McKenzie, Parker after Sarah Jessica Parker and McKenzie, which was the last name of the family in the movie Peyton Place.  Our little girl would have the initials P.M.  She would eventually have a brother and sister with the same P.M. initials, and now I am telling you this story from a blog called Peace Matters, which also has the initials P.M.  I am sure you get the connection. 

I remember the night we went to look at the dogs.  We stopped at Petco on the way and bought a leash and a collar.  I was very apprehensive to say the least.  I was not sure at all that we were doing the right thing.  When we pulled up to the house, an older woman named Ruthie greeted us at the door.  She was a rough character who only removed the oxygen she was connected to long enough to smoke a cigarette.  Ruthie asked us some preliminary questions about our experiences with dogs, all of which I am assuming we answered correctly.  She then said, “Well, I have to tell you something about Miniature Schnauzers.  They will look straight into her eyes, and I believe when they do, they can see clear through to your soul.”  

She then asked us if we were ready to see the dogs.  We both said yes, and I was thinking to myself, “I hope we are doing the right thing.  I hope we are doing the right thing.”  When Ruthie opened the door to the room where the dogs were kept, these two identical dogs rushed out of the room.  They were wild as they could be.  They were running and playing with each other and getting into everything.  This only encouraged the thought that kept running through my mind, “I hope we are doing the right thing.  I hope we are doing the right thing.”  To be honest, I was ready to go home, but I looked at Jeff and could see how excited he was, so I remained quiet.  Jeff looked at me and said, “Which one do you want?” like the decision had already been made.  I looked at the dogs that really did look just alike except one was chubbier than the other one.  I said, “Well, I do not want a fat dog, so let’s take the skinny one.”  We told Ruthie which one were wanted, we paid for her and made our way to the car.  Jeff drove and I held the puppy in my lap.  The whole time thinking that I knew I was going to fall in love with this little girl and I knew that the day would come that I would have to give her up.  I looked at our new bundle of joy and said, “Your name is Parker and we are your new daddies.”  

Parker was the perfect little girl.  She was patient, she was loving, and she wanted to please us.  She personified the word peace from the get go.  And of course, I was right, I fell head over heals in love with her, but as much as I loved her, Jeff loved her even more, and she loved him with the same enthusiasm as he loved her.  They were inseparable. 

I truly do not believe there is any coincidence that the word dog is God spelled backwards.  I believe that the love that a dog gives to us is the closest thing to God’s love that we can have on this earth.  Dogs love us unconditionally.  They do not judge us.  They do not love us because of who we are, what we have, or what we look like.  They love us in spite of our faults.  They truly forgive and forget the wrongs that we do, and they want to be with us all the time.  God feels exactly the same way about every single human on this earth.  It is important that you never forget that. Living with Parker and watching her grow and become such a huge part of our lives was truly life changing.  She literally gave our lives meaning, and in many ways she gave us the gift of life.  

Fast forward 8 ½ years later and we arrive at March 18, 2015, the last day of Parker’s life.  I have written about the last day of her life in a separate post that can be read under the tab Parker’s Legacy, so I will not go into many of the details here.  However, there are some highlights that I would like to mention.  When we knew that Parker was not going to make it and we made the decision to take her to the doctor, we knew that her life was about to come to an end.  We knew that when we returned home, she would not be with us.  

Jeff drove us to the vet’s office, and Parker once again sat in my lap just as she had on her first car ride with us.  I remember looking at her and wondering why the time had gone so quickly.  I was reminded of how she was as a puppy and what it had been like to be her daddy for the last 8 ½ years.  Parker had been there for us in the good times and in the bad.  She had been a constant and loyal companion.  She had brought us joy when we needed it the most, and she had given us a place to direct all the love we felt we had. She was more than willing to accept it, and always gave us more love in return than we had ever given her.  

After we arrived at the vet’s office and talked to the doctor and she confirmed that Parker’s time was coming to an end, I found myself repeating a familiar phrase.  I kept saying, “I hope we are doing the right thing.  I hope we are doing the right thing.”  Even in Parker’s final hour, she was showing us what we needed to do.  Jeff’s mom always said that Parker was a lady.  I have to agree with her.  Parker was a lady, and a lady always knows when to leave.  Parker led us through her final moments with the grace and courage that she had always shown in her short life.

Parker was peace, and her passing was one of the most peaceful and beautiful things that I believe I have ever experienced and, I am so thankful that I was able to be apart of it.  I am thankful for so much.  I am thankful that Parker was brought into our lives, and I am thankful that I was blessed enough to receive her love.  I am thankful that she saw us through the valley that we experienced, and I am thankful that she was there to climb out of it with us.  December 7th will always be a special day to us.  It was not the day Parker was born into this world, but it was the day that Parker came into our world. 

So to commemorate this special day, Jeff and I have decided to honor Parker’s memory by making a donation to our local animal shelter in the amount of an adoption fee. We would like the shelter to identify a family they believe will make an excellent home for a pet but that does not really have the money for the adoption fee.   We would very much like to encourage you to do something to support animals in your area.  You can donate money or supplies to your local animal shelter.  You can pay for the adoption of a pet for a family who cannot afford it.  You can adopt a pet yourself, or you can simply donate your time.  No charitable act is too small.  We will be making our donation in memory of Parker McKenzie Weaver-White.  If you choose to make a donation, I encourage you to do it in the memory of a pet that you loved, and if you do not have a pet to be memorialized, please feel free to use Parker’s name.  That would make Jeff and me both very happy.  When we do something to help a dog, it is just like helping a dog that we love or have loved.  Taking care of each other and the creatures that God has placed on this earth to bring us love and comfort is what we are all called to do.  It will make a difference in so many lives, and it will ultimately bring us all peace and PEACE MATTERS.