Lilly Kitty and the Darkness

I wanted to post this for Easter, Dear Reader.  Here it is, originally published in my newspaper column on March 28, 2018. 45 months ago today my daughter walked out of the house.  Little did we know it would be the last time. I can still hardly fathom it all. And how we’ve been able to make it through these last almost four years has everything to do with what happened this weekend a little over 2000 years ago.  

Lilly is gone.  It happened quickly and in the dark.  She’d always been really good about staying away from our vehicles, but one morning she darted towards my husband’s car and that was the end.  He never even saw her.

I felt the worst for my son.  He found that sweet, abandoned, malnourished little runt and took great care of her, her whole life.  He made sure she was well-fed and loved. Even the dogs grew to appreciate little Lilly. And like so much here on earth, yet another “thing” we loved is now gone.  Perhaps, Dear Reader, you feel the same way.

We’ve loved multiple pets and they are now gone.  We loved distance running, and with paralysis and a knee injury, it is gone for one child and forever changed for the other.  We loved lazy Sunday summer afternoons spent in the pond where the kids tubed and skied and jumped off the raft, and now those are gone.

We loved taking life for granted.  Rain simply meant one used an umbrella.  It didn’t usher in a number of complications.  Now “for granted” is gone. We loved normal. We loved being able to drive or ride in any vehicle or sit anywhere we wanted in a room.  We loved footsteps, and standing hugs, and looking like everyone else. And now it is gone.

My husband and I will never win an award for outstanding parenting, nor will our children win an award for perfect kids.  Yet I think there’s one thing we’ve done right with them. From the time our children were born, we’ve age-appropriately given them the truth.  We’ve always told them the truth, even when the truth stunk.

I had a student once who was being raised by a grandma.  For all practical purposes she served as the child’s mother.  She got sick with cancer, but they told the child that grandma just wasn’t feeling well.  Soon she died. And that precious third grader was told that Grandma went on a long, long trip.  I wasn’t playing any garbage games like that with my kids. When someone died, we told them, “He died.”  And we would take them to the funeral home so they could see the body of the person they knew. I vividly remember my husband lifting our tiny daughter up to the casket so she could see whose body was laying there, as he talked her through what we believe about death.  I remember a man telling me he didn’t take his children to funeral homes because it was too uncomfortable for them.

As if any of us feel “comfortable” at a funeral home?  Give me a break! I firmly believe giving your children experiences with death will have a huge pay off later in life because there’s a 100% chance they are going to have to deal with it as an adult.  When one of our cats got hit and we realized it was our cat we didn’t just tell our kids, “Oh, the cat probably ran away.” We were truthful. “Molly just got hit on the road.” When Great Uncle John got sick we just didn’t say he wasn’t feeling well.  We told the kids as much as we knew about the disease that would eventually end his life.

This world is hard and full of hurt.  Learning to live in the midst of all that strife is not easy, but there’s no Plan B.  Can you imagine if we’d always sugar coated the truth as our kids were growing up? Can you imagine how you would sugar coat having to tell your teenage daughter she was paralyzed for life?  I can’t! I can’t imagine how you would sugar coat that. The truth is there are many tough issues in life that can’t be avoided or swept under the rug. We can’t pretend they are not real. Many of you know all too well of what I write.

Most of the time I feel very overwhelmed with heartache.  Whether it’s a little kitty’s death, or my son’s knee injury, or paralysis or being on display for the whole world to watch while waves continually crash over us, or whether it’s what’s going on in the world, it all hurts.  Some of those hurt worse than others, but nonetheless, they all hurt.

What would we do if that was it?  What would we do if hurt was all there was to deal with and anticipate in this world?  No wonder so many feel completely hopeless and utterly defeated. But you know what, Dear Reader, I am not hopeless, and although I sometimes feel deflated, I’m not even close to feeling utterly defeated!  Easter is coming, Dear Reader! The message of the cross and the resurrection means it doesn’t all end like it feels today! After a particularly rough Sunday at church a few weeks ago I asked my family, “You know, when we get to Heaven I wonder if we will even remember all these dark days?  Maybe we will be able to remember them but I think. . .I think, perhaps, we will simply choose to forget.”

It may look dark now, Dear Reader, but the Light drives out the darkness!  We can count on it! Go, God!

Wishing you a meaningful and blessed Easter as we celebrate the hope Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection brings each of us.  Until next Wednesday, Lord willing.

Alissa works