Not The Way I Wanted

Image Sometimes there are events that crash into your life that have no apparent reason and which inflict the always unwelcome pangs of pain and grief. Yesterday our sweet little 2 year old cat, named Max, died unexpectedly and with no visible explanation. Crash. I found him. I screamed, horrified at the sight of my sweet lifeless cat, but also with the realization that this would be the first significant grief experience for my children, and my heart felt like it would tear open to think of their reactions. No. No, not this way. I want them to learn all that there is to know about the preciousness of life, about compassion, about how deep joy often is only felt or understood after deep sorrow has left its marks. But not this way. Not through this loss with no reason, no why, no warning, no nothing. Just crash. There are deeper losses, tragedies that rip families apart, parents from children, children from parents, things unspeakable and wounds that run to the core and don’t ever heal completely. I know that. This is not so big it will encompass us. This will heal. We will heal. But right now it hurts. I miss Max, but more than that, I ache for my children as I watch them, individually and collectively, face the cruelness of grief. I want to spare them from this, shield them, take it away. Away. But I can’t. This is part of their story now. This is imprinted in their hearts. My hope is this: that the way we grieve together, the way I allow them to ride the waves and follow all the emotions where they take them, will be just as imprinted. Because loss is part of love. And if they can learn now to love deeply but freely, and to release what is gone while holding the connection that remains, I may one day be able to see this as a time we all grew through our pain. It is not the way I wanted. But isn’t that life? It is not going to fall into the neat pieces we planned. It is messy and cruel and beautiful. It is not ours to control, but it is ours to cherish. I want so much for my children, and I have often bristled at the cliché that we all just want our kids to be happy. Because really I think we all want something bigger than happiness. We want strength, hearts of kindness and mercy, love given and received freely, compassion, wisdom, joy…And the mystery is that all of these seem to emerge in their truest sense through heartache and loss. But we don’t want it that way. It’s too hard. I would take all the pain if I could. Because my children experiencing pain is not the way I want. Ever. But here we are. We are knee deep in this moment of loss. It seems senseless and random. But it need not be wasted. It can still have meaning and import and yes, even push us as a family and individually, to a different, deeper, better place. Not what I wanted, but where we are.

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5 Comments

Filed under Grief and loss, parenting

5 responses to “Not The Way I Wanted

  1. Richard SLETTEN

    I agree that what we encounter in our lives is not always what we want. It frequently is why & why now. The lesson to be learned is not always evident. Hopefully we can learn to lean on our faith and our dependency on God.

  2. Thanks,dad. So true…what would we do without the anchor of our faith?

  3. Anonymous

    What you’ve so eloquently described I think is exactly how God feels about us. And why Jesus lived and died here on earth! Amen.

  4. I lost my baby girl Chelsea, 3 years old, suddenly two nights ago. I’m heartbroken and miss her terribly

  5. After the sudden and unexpected death of my 2.5 year old Izzy, I went online to find out about sudden feline death. There was an article and a comment in that article that led me to this site. This essay sums up my feelings exactly. Thank you- I couldn’t write it better. My trauma continues… Izzy’s brother Tango (adopted from same litter) disappeared 6 days after Izzy died. I was feeling that I was about to move on when Tango disappeared. We feared he too succumbed to sudden death. We searched and called for 6 days. then one day when my husband came home to work Tango was in the living room!! We rushed him to the vet only to find he was far more injured than just his dangling leg. They x-rayed him and told us we needed to consult a radiologist and orthopedic surgeon to see if saving him was a possiblitly. Well, 3 surgeries later Tango is doing well. We hope to bring him home soon. His tail had to be amputated, so now he will be a “Manx”. Its not what we wanted (Izzy and Tango to have a long life with us) but where we are. I am hoping for a good life for Tango and us!

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