Thursday, December 18, 2014

Can't see the forest for the tree

So I dashed into the military surplus store today to finish up the last of my Christmas list. Of course I do my Christmas shopping at Ranger Surplus. They sell things I never imagined I could buy and I have a vivid imagination. Where else can you buy Russian pea coats, baby camo, gas masks, stun guns, and everything for the suburban survivalist?

I found exactly what I was looking for—why should I ever be surprised?—and headed for the cashier at the front of the store. In the back corner of the store, several people were engaged in a very heated argument. I wasn’t close enough to hear what they were saying. There were two employees at the cash register in the front—a sinewy heavily tattooed older dude, and a baby-faced tattooed younger dude. (I pulled down my sleeve to hide my own feeble tattoo, shamed by its size and lack of color.)

Older dude says, “They’re doing it again, the same old argument they always have.” And he explains to me that they are arguing about whether or not there is sound when a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it. I ask if they are kidding.

Younger dude says, “No, they’re serious, ma’am. There has to be a sound because sounds create vibrations. Vibrations are vibrations, whether anyone hears them or not.”

Older dude says to younger dude, “Oh, come on! Someone has to hear it for it to be a sound.”

And the two dudes continued the argument. So now there was an argument in the front of the store and the back of the store, both on the same unsolvable puzzle.

As I got to the door, I turned back to them and said, “Merry Christmas. Can you be satisfied knowing that this question will never be answered?”

“Merry Christmas, ma’am,” they said in unison before resuming their argument about the tree falling in the forest.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Acceptance without understanding

You do realize, don’t you, that I write this blog for myself, as a way to work out things in my feeble brain? I’ve been sitting by a fire, talking to God, listening for God, holding my aching head. And crying.  

Once again I am reminded of the need to accept what is, to accept God’s will in my life, even when I have absolutely no understanding of the why. There are so many whys. God must be tired of me. I ask Him why, why He keeps taking away people and things I love. Is it His plan to strip me down to nothing? No response. I ask Him why a certain person in my life (unnamed to protect the clueless) behaves toward me the way he does.  The answer I get is that it’s not about me, I’m not the center of the universe, have compassion. I ask Him why I’m alone, and He doesn’t respond. I ask Him why, when I try so hard, why . . .  Even I get sick of hearing myself whining. 

I know there are Bible verses that address this very question but I’m not in the mood to look them up. My head hurts and reading Scripture makes me cry more. I love the Lord, I believe, I believe. I know that He has it all in control, that everything will make sense eventually. Even the painful things that tear me apart now won’t matter at the end of my life. But when I’m hurting here and now and my patience is running thin, I need to be reminded. It’s one of those times when I want God to come and sit beside me on the couch, in front of the fire, and patiently explain things to me again. Yet again. I’m a slow learner when it comes to the inscrutable ways of God. Sometimes I just need Him to be a bit more scrutable. (Apparently scrutable is not a real word—why not? Just another one of my why questions.)

I know that all things work for the good of those who are called according to His purpose. I don’t have to look up that one—I know it’s in Romans somewhere. Like I said, I’m feeling too lazy, too much of a headache to look it up. I trust that it’s true but it doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with it sometimes. I don’t think God is saying that all things are good. No, not by any stretch of the imagination. Death, disease, war, mayhem, cruelty, and heartbreak suck; they are just part of the whole enchilada called the human condition. God knows that this enchilada sucks (even though He probably would not approve of my language—sorry, Lord). What I need to be reminded of is that those things, those wretched human things that suck, don’t matter in the long run. Where I struggle is seeing past today, seeing past the pain of this flawed humanity to the greater glory of God. In the end, none of it will matter. What matters is that God is God and I’m not, He has a plan, and in the long run, when I’ve slipped out of this mortal coil, I’ll get it. But now, while I’m still in the mortal coil and I don’t get it, I want Him to tell me why.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Day zero

This was the day. Today I had my dear cat, my darling girl, put to sleep. It was gentle and quick. She was so beautiful lying there after her last breath, the stress and pain were gone from her body. My heartache is too raw today, the house too empty. I will process all of this in time.

Funny how my life has been so steeped in grief. I’ve been grieving the death of my father, the murder of my brother, and the death of my dear Mike. And now I add Miss Kitty to the mix. I’ve been going to a grief support group and doing a lot of reading on sorrow and healing over the past couple of years. There are still more questions than answers. It probably will always be that way.

On this sad, sad day, there are two things that I have seen clearly for the first time.

One is the realization that I have held God responsible for what happens in my life—I shake my fist at Him and ask Him how He can allow such terrible things to happen. Yet, I go to this same God for comfort, I trust Him to carry me through this tumultuous life that He brought about.

My second thought is that today is the day Eva died. Tomorrow will be day one, one day after the day she died. I’ll take it one day at a time.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Dying on a cold cloudy day

Everyone has the right to die in their own unique way. The day is cold and damp, nothing but deep clouds in the sky, not even a hint of sunshine. And Eva spends nearly all of her time resting on her bed with the heated throw to keep her warm. Her body seems to be shrinking before my eyes. She eats little—some rice cooked in beef broth, a little mango yogurt, a few slivers of deli turkey. She drinks a few sips of water. And I keep the death watch. I get up in the middle of the night to check on her, to take her to the bathroom. I don’t sleep much. Even in the middle of the night I usually find her awake, sitting up in her bed, staring vacantly into the darkness. She may acknowledge me when I ask how she’s doing but she turns from me if I try to hold her. She is in her own world it seems, retreating into something that is beyond my understanding.

But it has been her life, and now it’s her death. I don’t own it. The only input I have is how I care for her, how I try to honor her journey. It’s breaking my heart to know that today, tomorrow, soon her final day is coming. I will miss her.

Eva is 17 years old, rather old for a cat. She is beautiful, even still, even though her body is failing fast, I still see that beautiful kitten, that young wild girl in her face. I won’t let her suffer. When the time comes, I will do what she would want me to do. She will tell me when it’s time or she will simply die on her own. I am cherishing these last days while at the same time I am steeped in deep sorrow. My girl, my companion for so many years. . .