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  • Writer's pictureGary Gruber

My Best Friend Came Home

I’ve spoken of this before; I can’t overemphasize the importance of it. For those of us who believe in God, He has two fundamental ways of speaking to us. Most of the time He whispers – but sometimes He yells. The yelling isn’t to berate us (usually); most of the time it is to comfort us during a moment of deep and abiding pain or misery.

Yesterday evening He yelled at me to help me get back on track. Our alpha-kitty Macho passed away two weeks ago. He was my best friend. We went on great adventures together every evening in the backyard. He could always be found on the dining room table inches from my food, (sometimes) patiently waiting for a little taste of the weirdest of foods. He liked poached eggs and rye toast. He would let me spoon feed him yogurt or ice cream.

Invariably he would curl up with me on my recliner or in bed. If I accidentally stopped petting him for any reason (like wanting to go to sleep), He would gently grab my hand with his paw and drag it back to his chin.

Our home ran like a German passenger train – always on time to the second. Macho determined when breakfast and dinner was to be served, and more often than not would choose the menu.

I am not of the ilk of people who view their pets as ‘children’. Pets are not children. Children are children. Pets are gifts from God (children certainly are also, but in a more fundamental manner). He created everything, and He created everything specifically for you. One of the most magnificent perspectives of the Catholic faith is that God treats you as if you are the only person He ever created. If you spend some time reflecting on this, the ramifications are profound. Being omniscient and omnipresent, God can be in an infinite number of places at once.

This is why He can treat you like you are the only person on earth. His love flows down like a waterfall. 24/7, for every second of our lives. He waits patiently for us to call His name. The simplest prayer is “Father!”

If you’ve spent even a small amount of time in a pet store, you probably have seen saltwater fish. Their remarkable coloration, with a pattern that seems completely random, is what God does in His spare time – he paints them one by one. This is the way He relaxes. I have always believed this, even before I converted way back in 1999.

My comfort during these very intense two weeks since Macho’s death is knowing full well that God made Macho for me. I will carry these happy memories with me as long as I live. Even though my heart aches, it is joyous. I know this was truly a gift from God, one that I neither earned nor deserved, but one that He gave to me out of his infinite love for me.

As I already stated, most times God whispers. He wants you to slow down, to reflect on the grandeur of the natural world, and to try to comprehend that it was all done for you. Every bird in the sky, every fish in the sea, every giant sequoia, every butterfly.

Phyllis and I brought Macho’s cremated remains home from the vet yesterday. The mood was especially somber. It was hot, 120 degrees hot. The winds started to pick up about 5pm, so I went out in the backyard to bring down the half dozen or so patio umbrellas we use to shade the south side of the house.

I know all of the birds that reside in our backyard. We have doves, mockingbirds, two beautiful hummingbirds, a road runner, and occasionally a crow or two. Last night God slapped me upside my head. He has yelled at me before, but never this loud. Perched on a low branch of our tree in the yard was the equivalent of one of those hand painted saltwater fish. It was a Downy Woodpecker. Over 30 years in this home and I have never seen one before.

His black luminous body was amplified by the parallel white stripes running across his wings. He had a brilliant little red spot on the back of his head. Clearly, he was showing off, saying ‘look at me’. My heart soared. God was telling me that while it was ok to grieve the loss of my best friend, there were plenty of new worlds to conquer, plenty of new friends on the horizon.

People will scoff. Coincidence, they will spout. There are no coincidences in life. There is the simple, unmistakable fact that we all have a front row seat for the grandest show on earth. The ticket is free, and the show goes on forever. All you have to do is open your eyes, take a few breaths, sit back and relax.

Nothing will repair the hole in my heart from losing Macho; nothing can stop me from relishing all that God has to offer me. Pull up a chair. We can enjoy this together.

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Sasha Gruber
Sasha Gruber
Jul 20, 2023

As my papa’s daughter, I will forever carry Macho in my heart. If we love with our hearts and not our eyes, then I believe that those we cherish are always with us. -Sasha

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