“Rosey can barely walk, Mom.” My sixteen year old son gently picked up his cat and carried her down the hall to her litter box.
“Yesterday she seemed slower, but you’re right. She’s definitely struggling. She’s old, Son. Older than you.”
We’ve known this day was coming. Sometime. In the future.
“Let’s move her food and box to your room so everything will be close and she won’t have to come down the hall. Tomorrow we’ll take her to the vet.”
The arm load of blankets that my man-boy gathered for Rosey’s new habitat included the baby blanket I had crocheted before he was born. The calico kitten had curled on one end while I worked on the other. She had been there to welcome her new master. As he grew, his bed was where she slept. His desk was where she lounged as a companion to his studies, an aid for his tactile learning.
His face grew grim as he hovered over his aged pet and grasped his new reality. I ached in a grief more for him than for her. Tears were catching up with us both.
“God, I sense you’re timing here. I want to see it clearer. Please show me. Is he ready for this?”
Memory took me back, a good twelve years back, when I had written the following words:
Most every parent longs to protect their children from the dangers of life. I am no exception. Isolation tempts me with its safety. I consider a deserted island or perhaps some kind of bubble suit where only good can get in and all the bad stays out. Of course I know that good outside boundaries are only part of the answer.
To be truly safe, my child needs to be bounded internally. He needs to equipped with internal strength to survive a crazy world. I have decided that there are two essential pieces of this equipment. One piece is Security, the other, Hope. My consistent, always available love helps equip my son with security. And when I tell him of Christ’s promise to return, of life after death, and elaborate on heaven, I equip him with hope.
However, he hasn’t lost so much as a pet to death, and being taken away from the world he knows to go to heaven might be a pretty scary thought. He has sorted through the possibilities, and, one day on a quiet ride home from town, he shared his solution:
“I know, Mommy. When Jesus comes we hold hands. Okay?”
“You want to hold hands when we go to heaven?”
“Mommy, Daddy, and me hold hands. Then we go togedder! Okay?”
I promised him we will all hold hands real tight when Jesus comes.
On another day a dog lay dead on the road. “Mommy, will Jesus make the dead doggie alive and take him to heaven?”
“Jesus promises to make a brand new earth where there will be lots and lots of doggies and kitties.”
I’ll take a leash for my kitty. Yeah, and one for Lassie too.”
“So now, God, my son is sixteen and his kitty, seventeen. He has lost much more than a pet in death, but is he ready for this? Is he equipped with that internal strength? Does he possess that essential equipment, Security and Hope? Is this for a deepening maturity? Another necessary step out of childhood?”
I watch my son carefully squirt the vet’s pain medication into his pet’s mouth and receive a fresh glimpse of a God who promises to carry us even to our old age. I know I can trust God’s timing. Next, a vision presses my thoughts. It’s resurrection morning. Christ has returned to leashed animals and eager humans holding hands, meeting him in the air.
When you face pain or grief, try to consider how it has come to you at that point in your life. Are there others who are ready to gain a glimpse of God through your experience? Does your experience mark a spiritual turning point for you? Can you feel God sustaining you even through your darkest hours? He is there. Sometimes it is only through faith that we perceive him. Sometimes it is through simple things like old cats and the teenage boys who care for them.
“Listen to me, all who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.” Isaiah 46:3&4
If you have had an experience when you saw God through the simple things of life, please share that point of light with me. On the “Share Your God Story” page you can send me a brief telling that will be rewritten and approved by you. I look forward to sharing God through your eyes.