Sometimes an angel’s duties are sad; other times, they are happy, and sometimes they are both.
I got a prayer request this week that moved me so much I had to do everything I could to answer it in the affirmative. The prayer came from a man named John Vincent. He is a 69-year-old Vietnam veteran who had recently gone into hospice care. When he did, he was forced to part with Patch, his six-year-old terrier mix.
I was first made aware of this situation by Patch, himself. The poor baby knew his dad was getting sick, and like all dogs, he believed what he needed the most was Patch taking care of him. Sadly, the doctors felt otherwise. With no family to provide for Mr. Vincent, he had to enter hospice care, and poor Patch went into a shelter. That is why Patch contacted me. He desperately wanted to go back home. I had to break the sad news to Patch that his prayer could not be granted. I promised I would do everything in my power to find him a new home. But, we both knew it would not be the same.
Frankly, doing that sucked the big one. I was concentrating on finding Patch a home that he deserved when I got a second prayer. This was from Mr. Vincent. He knew his heartbeats were ending, and all he wanted was one more day with his best friend, and his only family member: Patch.
Luckily, this is the type of prayer request that humans want to see fulfilled. When I went into the dreams of Amy Neal, the palliative care worker at the hospice, I found a mind already working hard to reunite Patch and Mr. Vincent. I was heartened to learn that the wheels were in motion, and I did not have to make a herculean effort to make it happen, but I still had a duty to see it come to fruition.
Patch had been placed with the Albuquerque Animal Welfare, where every worker had fallen in love with the little terrier mix. They were working on finding Patch a home, and there were several applicants until then I knew nothing would be better for him than to snuggle with his dad. Thanks to the good people at the hospice and the rescue that snuggle was immanent.
When Patch was brought into the hospice, his nose told him this is where his dad was. When Patch saw Mr. Vincent in the hospital bed, he began to do the doggy wiggle, the need to provide comfort to the man who cared for him all his life was overwhelming. Patch's dad’s tender hand on his pup's head stopped the desperate squirms. Patch crawled up his dad’s chest and navigated the tubes to give him sweet licks
Patch then snuggled down next to his dad. They spent one more day together doing what dogs and their parents do best, blissfully nothing. Intermittently Mr. Vincent would lift Patch up to his chest and squeeze him. The broad smile never left Patchs’ face. He knew he had to go, that this wasn’t his new home, but he enjoyed every single second of his reunion. That is one significant advantage we dogs have over humans. We may not live as long, but time does move slower for us, and we can savor every moment.
When it came time for Patch to go home, we left them alone to say their final goodbyes. I was outside the room but could hear the sound of hearts breaking. Then Patch was returned to the shelter.
I tried to lie next to Mr. Vincent. People closer to the end can sense angels. I don’t know if I helped Mr. Vincent. I was no substitute for Patch, but I do hope I helped.
Mr. Vincent will be Patch's angel soon, and Patch will be in a new home. Then Mr. Vincent will visit Patch in his dreams, and they can just snuggle together until the day comes when they can so for eternity.