Hope is risky as it involves coming out of my own cocoon of fear and trying again. This transformation is a wild, unrestrained act. It takes all of my strength to hope, to make choices that may alter life again, even small decisions are laborious for me. Last weekend, we had to put our miniature horse down. It left me unspeakable at first as Shannon was a loved horse but also was a mark of deliberate transformation which took courage for our family after a series of loss. Shannon was our visual reminder of hope and of persevering together; she was a loved pet but also a symbol of living and loving together again.
Honestly, my first reaction to her acute illness was not only shock and pain, but anger. I was angry my children could not be protected from hurt once again. Down on my knees, in the barn with my daughter I wept, and not only for our horse but for the insecurity that this life keeps blasting them with. I will never forget the look on my youngest daughter’s face as she bravely stroked and kissed as the injection worked it’s way. Then moments later she finally gave up and limply laid her head and arms spanning the horses belly and sobbed. Afterwards I staggered my way back to the house, knowing full well I had round two of consoling to do with my other daughter. She had done the majority of the work with the horse so willingly as it was her joy, not to mention all my husband put into it—countless hours and work.
This sting of life cannot be avoided and I know that as an adult. I knew that well as a child, but as a mother pain reaches an entirely different level. It feels as if pain multiplies when seeing the ones you love hurt and having no way to protect them. For the most part, I’m grateful as I know so full well that others have it worse and this is just an animal and a lengthy string of events. So I pray for those traversing more profound loss now and relinquish them to the Comfortor. But I keep thinking of this series of events the past three years have brought us–failed adoptions, two stolen cats, the death of a rabbit, further diagnosis’, relationship loss and it all seems preposterous to me, really sort of surreal. I’m thinking about this new year and how I will live it, what choices I will make. Will we float, sink or even try again? I know we are all steadying ourselves this week and regaining our course and there are already signs of strength in my children to not give up. Most of all I know that this shook my world as I saw yet another glimpse of my children’s grieving process again and that’s unsettling.
Consequently, we have talked and cried for days reliving the bad pictures we cannot get out of our minds, but I want us to be a family that communicates rather than avoiding feelings like the plague. I know this is yet another opportunity to teach what is natural in this life and the weight of that responsibility entrusted at times is a heavy load. However, they have to know there will be tough decisions, sorrow and death mixed in with happiness as it all co-exists. We've also realized the good and the joy we have been able to feel again.
The experience really left us reviewing so many of our decisions in the past few years and if they have been blunders or divine appointments, what God is trying to teach us and how to listen for his leadings. Really pretty deep ideas for a 9 and 12 year old to have need to ponder. We’ve discussed how it feels when God wants us to yield to his higher purpose even when we do not understand it clearly. In the end we have confessed that we all wish we could be physically picked up by God, placed in the right position and told to walk straight ahead. How great that would be to know exactly what God would desire of us! I am such a tactile learner, I’d like to actually touch the openings and closings God has in store for me as I touch nature’s gifts along a wooded path and find my way. Unfortunately, there are no short cuts, no secret passage ways, but more a calling to listen, remain faithful and to keep moving forward.
This faithfullness is seemingly the part that matters the most. The part I want our children to keep aiming for in order to avoid the trap of fear from life’s many hurts. I want them to keep living, risking and enjoying to the fullest. Like most parents, I want them to be more accomplished at this than I have been. Most of all, I wish for them to be transformed by the living Light with a passion to guide them along their own way in this journey. I want them to remember what is most important, that which is Eternal.
As for Shannon Joy, she was a beautiful tri-colored Paint who gave us many memories in a short period of time and will be remembered by the 3 colored braids of her mane kept as a reminder of her. She will be another memory that has taught us all to trade our weakness for God’s strength in order to carry on. I know we will float and launch again real soon.