More backstory for my April 15 One Year Bible devotional. The original title of this was “Lost and Found.”
The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Through it all, let us praise the Lord.
An old friend tapped me on the shoulder yesterday after church. When I turned to see the owner of that hand, and took in the beautiful (and still very young-looking) face of my friend, Lynn, I couldn’t help but shriek just a bit. I hadn’t seen her in years, though we live in the same town. I’d thought of her many times, but had no idea where she was or how to get a hold of her.
So God brought her right to me, along with an unspoken suggestion: Perhaps you two should catch up a bit. I liked that suggestion. We stood in a row of chairs talking for ten minutes or so, then stood in empty space for another ten or fifteen minutes after the set-up/take-down crew removed those chairs from around us. Then we moved outside and talked some more, above the pounding of a basketball and the giggling of a game of tag.
We talked about her remarriage and caught up on how much our kids had all grown. We talked about our shared shock over the sudden death of a mutual acquaintance last month. My sadness only intensified when she told me that Mike and his wife had been separated at the time of his heart attack.
After all that first-layer chatter, we got down to the reason for Lynn’s appearance. She hadn’t been in church the last six months, not since leaving her church of several years. She’d felt disconnected there though she was firmly plugged in. Her feeling seemed to be legitimate, since no one has yet called to see where she’d gone.
She knew she needed to find a new church home. And then one day she picked up my book–which someone had given her daughter–and started reading. She finished Saturday, and when she was done, she felt that not only did she know me better, she also knew a fair bit about the people in our church. She couldn’t help but think that God was leading her to Calvary Marysville. And I couldn’t have been more delighted.
After church we went to the home of some friends for lunch and a preview of a parenting series we’re about to begin. With the business end of our meeting behind us, we then moved to “snacking and laughing” with the Kellys and the Hilts. I laughed so hard my stomach hurt.
Later, when we arrived back home, I said to Dave, “This has been a perfect day.” I’d felt God’s presence during worship. And Dave’s message, on Hebrews chapter 6, had been powerful. He made me think, laugh, jot frantic notes, and re-appreciate my Father. The fellowship afterward, both at church and at the Kellys, had been wonderful. I couldn’t ask for more from a day.
But then, I checked in on our kittens and discovered I was about to lose my baby. Since that mishap, while the lighter gray kitten grew stronger, the darker gray kitten grew weaker. She seemed to have something structurally wrong with her, which confirmed to us that Lucy probably dropped her when she moved the litter. She never could walk properly and she couldn’t fight off the others when trying to nurse, so I took to feeding her with a dropper to try to supplement. For awhile, I thought I was winning.
But yesterday, I could see it was just a matter of time. I held her in our usual spot, under my chin, and then gave her a little milk, which she drank weakly. And then, because I knew she would never chase butterflies or scamper after her siblings or lie and sun herself on a cushion of green, I took her outside and set her gently on the grass. We didn’t stay but two minutes, but it mattered to me that she met the world just once before she left it.
Dave had tried to protect me. Just days ago, he said, “Don’t get too attached to that kitten.”
But my heart was already long-gone. “Too late,” I told him. And when she died in my hand last night, I kept stroking her little head. Long after her last tiny gasp, I kept loving her.
We wrapped her in a soft cloth and laid her aside so we could bury her properly today. But last night, I dreamt that when I went to get her, she had crawled out of her wrapping and was waiting for me and my dropper.
Of course, when I opened my eyes this morning and rushed to her, it wasn’t so. Today we’ll say good bye.
Life is a sprinkling of salt and sugar, of tears and laughter, good bye and hello … of lost and found. I’ll endure it here, because I know it’s what makes a life full and gives a soul depth. I know it’s what makes us who we are. It softens our rough spots, teaches us compassion, and “gentles” us so we can reach out to one another. But I’m looking forward to heaven. When these lessons have run their course, I’ll be glad to give a final nod to salt, and tears, and good bye, and lost.
And I won’t look back — not even once.