lost and found
The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Through it all, let us praise the Lord. - Job 1:21
First, the found.
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. It's a mystery to me how growing up can change you so. When I was twenty, I'd think nothing of driving five hours to visit a friend off at college. Now, I don't have the energy or gumption to open the phone book, copy an address, and track down a friend in my same zip code.
But in this case, I didn't have to do a thing. 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.
She introduced me to her new (of seven years) husband, Scott, and I re-introduced her to Zac. She hadn't seen him since he was hip-level to her; now, he's 6'1" and whiskery. She'd never met Tera at all, though she'd heard of her existence. So I pointed Tera out to her. Lynn then updated me about her daughter, Amy, and now-married son, Christopher. 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 a series of unconnected events led her to us: Scott had a job interview last week. This was a must-get job, so Lynn started praying. And though I don't advocate making deals with God, in this case, I'm not unhappy that Lynn added "And if Scott gets that job, we'll find a home church" to the end of her prayer. While they waited for an answer, Lynn 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. That, combined with a "yes" on the job, cemented Lynn's conviction that God was leading her to Calvary Chapel. I'm so glad--and so looking forward to watching the rest of my church family discover this delightful woman.
We came home, changed clothes, and went to the home of some friends for lunch and a preview of a parenting series we're about to begin next month. 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.
I wrote about the kittens in this post a few weeks ago. 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.