Unexpected Grief

Grief made an unexpected visit to our family last Friday.  It was not uninvited, as whenever one brings living joy into their life, you also invite the possibility of grief.  But we did not expect it to come so soon.

Thursday night we went to bed as always with the chaos of children followed by quiet.  We planned or Friday morning to be normal…but it wasn’t.

After ignoring my 4 alarms and laying in bed, Nick woke me up before 6am with “Something is wrong with Frosty.”

I immediately got up and went downstairs to see the sight he had found.  Our little white kitten was laying in the laundry room by the garage door.  Her normal gregarious body was barely moving.  She responded slightly to my touch and voice, but she seemed weak.  Her breathing was a bit labored, but otherwise you would think she was just resting.

Within half an hour I had her to an emergency vet (yes, such places exist and are open 24-7 for the concerned pet parent).   Tests and observations led to a final diagnosis: her nervous system was shutting down.

There was no warning.  In less than 10 hours she went from playing, to being unable to control her movements.  She spent her last minutes in my arms with the children and their dad nearby.


We adopted her in November and never thought she would be with us for only 3 months.

Frosty was – is – our 6 year old son’s (Builder) cat.  His 4 year old sister (Princess) claimed her too.  But she spent most of her time with me, generally trying to sit on the computer keyboard or on my lap for attention.

And now, instead of a routine day and weekend, our children and family faced an unexpected grief.   Builder and Princess both continued to share their observations and thoughts with me throughout the day and weekend.  Builder in particular had many questions and comments.

“I didn’t know someone so young could die.”

I let them take it easy, already late for school, Builder stayed home.  My plans were replaced with being fully available to address the children’s needs, and sit with my own grief for awhile.  I grieved over the loss of a companion for our children.  I grieved over the fact that our son was having to process the death of something so young.  I grieved that I had not taken tons of pictures.  And I grieved over the loss of a life.

With this on the heels of Ash Wednesday and my internal ruminations on Lent, some thoughts which were shared in an earlier post, this death had eerie timing.

From dust, everything came, and to dust, everything will return.

Embrace each moment as an opportunity for love and joy.

And today, I embraced the moment by letting Princess use me as her canvas as she transformed herself into a make-up artist.

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Facing Lent

As I prepared my message for last night’s Ash Wednesday service, it forced me to reexamine how I spend my time.

It’s hard to examine something I can’t keep track of.  Even our son commented on how the weeks are so short.

My days are outlined by alarms programmed into my phone: warning wake-up alarm, wake-up alarm, son’s meds, warning for the AM bus, warning for the PM bus, scheduled activities.  And then there are the silent alarms in my head of preschool pick-up, spelling homework, shower time, bedtime.  Somewhere between these alarms I have to fit my life.

My life is a collection of segments that I fill with a long list of wifely and parental duties, attempts at my own goals, and various distractions.  It is not in my personality to schedule every minute of my day, or make exhaustive lists to check-off.  I’ve tried both, but they do not work.  Not with me, not with our kids.

But this life opens us up to more distractions…distractions I honestly would like to get rid of.

I face Lent with the reality that things aren’t working.  That I need to get my act together and fully commit.  I need to stop living a life of waiting on children to get into school, and wishing on dreams.  I need to commit to accepting life as it is, working fully within it, and letting God do the rest.

Yet as I realize I need to commit, I also understand that I will once again become distracted.  I will find myself moving in different directions, trying to keep up on the long lists of things I need to do, and getting lost in life itself.

Getting my act together is more than I can do at this time, as it depends on so many other things and people and events.  So instead of finding the time to figure out how to reorder my life, I choose to make smaller, deliberate changes.  For Lent I’m giving up iPad games and will use the time for reading in preparation for a retreat I’m speaking at this summer.  At least it will be another step further on the journey of living deliberately.

Small steps.  May this offering be enough.

Posted in Intentional House Living, Marriage, Mental Health, Parenting, Spirituality - Spiritual Journey, Theology | Tagged | 1 Comment