The day after Christmas, our little family of 4 made the drive up to Chicago to celebrate my mom for a week and then to Wheaton to reconnect with dear friends and relax some before the new semester. We had a wonderful time and at the end of it all, our souls were refreshed. We were ready for this new year.
And then on Sunday we made the long drive back to Conway. And when we walked back in the door at just after midnight we learned that our cat had died sometime in the two hours before we got there.
That’s right, we spent 10 days visiting family and friends. We spent 10 days being rejuvenated and we felt ourselves relax.
And then our cat died.
Now, we had some warning. Early in the weekend we got a report from our neighbors that things weren’t looking good. [Special note: These friends went out of their way to care for Mo and make sure he was comfortable and felt loved. They’re basically rockstars.]
But I don’t think we expected Mo to die that quickly. He went downhill fast in just a few days. And we so wanted to be there. Sure, he was a pest and my words haven’t been all too kind in the last few months.
But he was my cat for almost 8 years. He was our cat for 5 years before we were able to have children.
I loved my cat. And, as much as his particular neediness was driving me crazy, I didn’t want him gone.
So, for the last two days as I have unpacked and reorganized and prepared for what’s to come, I have also grieved. I wept when we came in the door that night. And I wept when we buried him in the yard the next day. And I’ve been learning how to grieve with a young child who is trying to understand what death means. Which translates to lots of questions and conversations. Lots of saying over and over again that Mo is dead and not coming back. And lots of remembering the good things.
And it’s all very surreal. This is the time of year that we dream about what’s to come. We make goals and draft plans for what this new year will hold. Along our trip, Brandon and I had talked a lot about what we hoped for 2015. We were eager and excited about what it might bring. What it might look like. We were energized and ready to take it on.
And then we came home to a dead cat.
A. dead. cat.
And this has got me thinking. Are we going about this whole “new year resolution” thing all wrong? When we dream and envision what a new year looks like, we rarely imagine the things that will hurt. We don’t anticipate the things that will cause us pain. We don’t care to think about the things that might break us.
I’m wondering if there might be a better way.
Now, I’m not suggesting that we start dreaming about the bad things. That would be weird and not at all helpful.
But, what if we spent time envisioning how we might handle that pain? What if we made goals to do better when the hard stuff comes? What if we not only talked about what the year might bring, but made plans for what type of people we want to be?
So, I’ve come up with a new plan for 2015.
When it all comes down to it, this year I want to reflect the image of my Savior and my Creator better. I want to love mercy and seek justice. I want to choose joy always, even in the midst of pain. I want to love others well.
How that looks in 2015… well that’s yet to be seen. First on the docket is for Brandon and me to draft a family mission statement. A statement that reflects first what we want to be. And then (and only then) what we hope to do.
And I’m once again eager and excited. But a little more measured and, perhaps, a little more hopeful about what this year might bring.
I miss my cat. But at least I can leave a glass of water out without him knocking it over…
Happy New Year, friends.