With tears streaming down my cheeks I carefully scooped up a little more dirt and placed it over the grave. I had buried him in the front yard, under the cherry tree my father and I planted together only two summers ago. Neighbors would stare as they past by in their vehicles. You see, we lived on a plot of land that created the corner to a busy street with a stop sign. So everyone who passed by had to stop anyway. But I didn't pay them any mind. I was grieving.
Perhaps you're wondering what this post is all about. Let me back up a bit so that you have a better understanding of the situation.
It all began in a Wal-Mart. I was wandering around the pet aisles looking for cat food when I spotted him. He was gorgeous! I could feel my heart pumping faster as I approached him and he turned around and looked at me. It was love at first sight. Love I tell you!
Words cannot express the elation I felt as when we went home together, staring at each other in equal fascination. My mother was so happy for me and my father gave an approving nod. " He's a handsome one!" She said to me. " Quite the catch." My father stated.
And indeed he was.
We spent a blissful week together learning about our different ways... our likes, our dislikes. And he always gave me a reason to smile. *Sigh* He was so handsome! I praised God for giving me the privilege of enjoying such a magnificent creation!
Any free time I had was spent with him and even when I was away, working, my thoughts returned to him. I was in love. Love, love, love. And it was wonderful!.... until he became sick.
At first he just didn't seem to be his usual self and I would try to cheer him up by surprising him with his favorite snack. But soon not even that could lift his spirits. I knew it was a bad sign. Concerned for his well-being I consulted professional advice and shared with my parents how worried I felt. And every day before bed I would pray for him.
But as the early morning hours approached he passed away and I was devastated. Holding him in my hands I cried and cried. I never knew how much love could hurt! After a time I started thinking about how best to dispose of his body. I imagined that most people would have simply flushed him down the toilet but he meant so much more to me than... well, poop.
As I carried him outdoors, a garden shovel in one hand, my father asked me what I was doing. When I explained that I was going to give my dear one a proper funeral, he laughed. But I didn't care.
So out I went into a beautiful spring day full of sunshine and singing birds. It seemed to me an atrocity. How could the world be so happy and beautiful when I had to bury him? Didn't the world know I was grieving?
Down on my hands and knees I fell and began digging. The cherry tree that my father and I planted only two summers ago seemed to be the perfect place. His body could fertilize the tree and when the blossoms bloomed again I would remember him. The neighborhood cat, Casper, came to sniff the earth I had dug up and then he rubbed himself against my arm as if to give me his condolences.
And then... a shadow fell over me and I looked up to see my father had quietly joined me. He smiled softly and nodded. " Would you like me to pray with you?" He asked, not a trace of the humor he exhibited earlier. And I could see that he was completely sincere. So I nodded, not trusting myself to speak. And he did. And I cried. And to this day I still remember the funeral to my betta fish, Semerald.
I still get teary-eyed at the memory but not because of Semerald's passing. I am touched by my father's actions. It meant so much to me that he chose to join me outside in our front yard. And it taught me an important lesson about life. Sometimes people around us get upset and troubled by things we might consider ridiculous or inconsequential. But it is a big deal to them. Sometimes just our willingness to be present with them, to be a shoulder they can lean on without being criticized or judged, is the deepest way we can show our love.
I John 3:18 " Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."