On Wednesday, our family dog, Shayna, was put to sleep.
Shayna came into our lives only a few months before my mother died. At the time, the dog we had since I was in middle school, Yossi (he was a schnauzer with a beard like a Jewish old man, thus the name), was clearly getting toward the end; my mother hoped that getting my sister her own, younger dog would help her to handle the transition. At the time, my aunt had an elderly neighbor who was no longer able to care for her dog. That was the dog we would eventually call Shayna.
Unfortunately, my mother had no idea just how much transition Shayna would see my sister--and our family generally--through over six years. Yossi would outlived my mother only by a few months. A year later, my grandmother would also pass away. Then, my father would sell our childhood home; Shayna was there to escort my sister to the next one. Two of us would move out of the northeast. Finally, this past week, my sister announced--after nearly a year of traveling the country to audition--that she would be attending American University’s prestigious Musical Theatre Program in the fall.
Rabbinic tradition teaches that God sends angels to our world, and that each of these angels are sent to earth with a specific divine mission and purpose. God famously sent three angels to Abraham: one to heal him from his brit, one to tell him he was going to have a son, and another to take Lot out of the city of Sodom. According to that same teaching, once that angel’s mission is completed, the angel returns to Got in Himmel, to God in the skies, having served its divine purpose.
I can’t help but think that Shayna passed away because she understood that with my sister’s acceptance to college, on some level, her mission--to be a constant source of stability for my sister in a fast changing world--was now complete.
Thank you Shayna, for being there for my family, and my sister in particular. You truly were zeyer shayn, an angelic gift from the divine.