As I’ve remembered the loved ones who have gone before us this weekend, I’ve been reminded of the many blessings of loving and being loved I’ve experienced during my lifetime.
In addition to friends and family I spent some time thinking about our parakeet, Baby. This may seem insignificant in light of the loss of a loved one, but he was the first pet I had been emotionally involved with for as far back as I can remember and he taught me a valuable lesson.
I’m not much of an animal person. I like them, and often think they are cute, but I don’t need to hold or pet every one I see, much less feel the need to own them, like some members of my family. How he became my bird I’ll never know, but he wormed his way into my life with all his cute antics. He was so snuggly – you say birds don’t snuggle, well…
He couldn’t fly because we clipped his wings, but he would run along after me as fast as he could and hop up and down stairs one step at a time. He would follow along so closely that if we turned around suddenly we sometimes bumped into him and sent him sprawling.
He would sit on my shoulder and run down my arm to peek into a pot to see what was cooking, and many times he would fly over to my husband to see what he was eating – often landing in his plate of spaghetti.
This always required a shower for him, but he loved sitting under a slowly running faucet and enjoyed his showers.
He thought of his cage as punishment. If we didn’t take him out as soon as we came home, he would dump all the food out of his dishes and make all sorts of noises.
He played with a little ball of yarn, just like a kitten, and would push around a little soccer ping pong ball.
When he got sick I did something I never dreamed I would do – I took him to the emergency vet because, of course, it was a weekend and all vets are closed. Vet emergencies are a lot like human emergencies – very expensive. There was nothing they could do for him and he died shortly after we arrived. They said he had probably been taken from his mother too early and hadn’t been digesting his food properly.
I never imagined something so small could mean so much to all of us. Our children kept saying, “Even Mom is crying.”
Some time later we purchased another parakeet, from a breeder this time. He had been hand fed and was used to people handling him already, so he was friendly from the start. I found myself not wanting to get too attached to him. I basically just ignored him. It took me several weeks to realize I was guarding my heart from further hurt.
At that point I had to make a decision. Was I going to risk loving again, or protect myself from future hurts? It was a struggle, but I finally made the decision to love. It was a good thing I did, because now we own an 80 pound dog and two kittens in addition to the bird.
We often go through this type of struggle with people, too. I experienced it to some degree when we moved five years ago. I found myself holding on to the old relationships and comparing them to people I was meeting in our new location – of course, no one could quite measure up to my long-term friends.
I was reminded of an old ditty:
Make new friends, but keep the old.
One is silver, the other gold.
Once again, I had to make a choice. I had to let go and move on.
When my father-in-law died it was a tremendous loss to me. He was our last parent and the one we had been closest to. He spent months with us each year and was a vital part of our lives. I couldn’t imagine life without him. One day I was lying in bed, thinking how good it would feel just to allow myself to fall into despair. I didn’t want to get up and deal with my emotions, much less the emotions of our three children. That’s when the Lord whispered in my ear, “This isn’t what Roger would want. He wouldn’t want you to fall into despair over his death. He would want you to finish strong!”
Once again, I had a choice to make. That was more than four years ago, but I still have to make that choice at times.
I read this today, “All gave some, and some gave all.” It’s been my Memorial Day thought. I have a friend whose 19-year-old son died in Iraq this past year, and a classmate who died in Vietnam. This is when the cost of giving hits home and with this cost comes the choice: to guard your heart, or dare to love again.
These days more than death causes separations. Divorce – consider how many men, women, and children are affected by divorce each day – including bitter custody battles.
We have friends who are adopting three siblings in the 6-11 age group. Their mother is giving them up! Can you imagine being that age and knowing your mother doesn’t want you? Can you imagine them being willing to love someone again?
So all of us have given some, and some of us are called on to give all. But… we are all called to finish strong. We grieve our loss, but we move on to what the Lord has called us to do. My prayer for each of you is that, by the grace of God, you finish strong.
Finding Joy in the Journey,
I would love to have the opportunity to keep in touch with you. Please sign up to be notified of new entries and to receive my Free E-zine. (Your address will not be shared)
Proclaiming God’s Faithfulness at:
© 2009 Phyllis Sather
All rights reserved
Contact me at: Phyllis@Phyllis-Sather.com