Midnight. Death and the Cornerstone of my Faith

I lifted this off my CaringBridge site. I wrote this around Easter time while in the middle of chemo treatments. Death, pain, tears and the ought-not-be’s and why Easter makes all the difference.

Michael, our twelve year old, has been the proud owner of three hamsters. Most summers we are away on some type of summer mission trip or training time, so it hasn’t been conducive for us to be dog owners. The kids have had their share of pet fish, pet caterpillars, and some of you remember “Jewels,” Julia’s “pet” pumpkin. Well, we decided to turn the corner and enter the land of mammals by giving Michael a hamster for Christmas several years ago.

Hammy, our first hamster, died from an accident pretty early on. Then Teddy joined our fold. She was a great Mensa genius escape hamster. We would duct tape down the opening of her cage, and somehow she would still mysteriously escape. Twice we found her downstairs in the guest bathroom trashcan. She was discovered at different times in the master bedroom, the TV room, and under the stove. We never could figure out how she managed to get down the stairs! Those who watched our hamster for us while we were out of town had their own stories of her amazing Houdini antics in their own homes. One day, after escaping for the hundredth time, she never returned home. I thought at one point this past October she returned after two and a half years, but it turned out to be a rat. I’ll save that story for another time.

More time passed and we adopted Midnight at Christmas two years ago.  Midnight was completely black and a very sweet hamster. Michael did a great job taking care of her and training her. On a Friday night last March, during a Not-So-Small-Group meeting in our home, Michael called me up to his room in tears. Midnight stopped moving and looked dead. Darrin was away at an Elder’s Retreat. I called him. Through choppy phone reception we decided I would take Midnight to Animal Urgent Care.

It was our first time visiting Animal Urgent Care. After waiting a long, long time the vet came out to us and explained they couldn’t figure out what was wrong. She explained that for $500 they could run more tests, but it wouldn’t guarantee MIdnight’s recovery. Her voice was matter of fact, but her eyes showed compassion as she explained to us Midnight was suffering and probably wouldn’t make it through the night. We needed to decide if we would put her down. I tried explaining what all this meant to Michael, but I don’t think he fully grasped what was going on. He and I agreed it was better to not let Midnight suffer anymore. It was a brutal decision. After they put her down, they brought Midnight back to us wrapped in a towel inside her travel cage. Michael hugged the cage close and sobbed. I sobbed, too.

After we got home, Michael asked to sleep in the TV room. I decided to join him. He had a restless night of sleep and would wake up crying. Michael was not a big fan of hugs.  Even as a baby, he didn’t enjoy cuddling much. But on this night, each time he woke up crying, I would go over and hold him and cry with him–and he let me.

Death, grief, sorrow, separation…and the heart of a parent whose heart breaks with her child. We were not created to experience these things. This is why it is still unnatural and uncomfortable when we rub up against things that ought-not-be. Cancer and other illnesses fits in this category, too.

This Easter weekend, I am reminded how God’s heart breaks when He sees what ought not be. As I head into another round of chemo this week, I am reminded God’s love for me is fierce and compassionate. And like I was with Michael in the TV room, God will be with me. He will hold me and cries with me in my pain and discomfort.

I am also reminded this Easter how God’s perfect plan righted the wrongs and the ought-not-be’s. The hinge point of my faith rests on the truth that Jesus rose from the dead.

“and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain…and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are all men most to be pitied. But now Christ has been raised from the dead,”  (I Corinthians 15:14, 17, 19, 20).

If Jesus was merely a good teacher, and did not prove He was God by raising from the dead, then it’s true: my faith is worthless, I would still be separated from God because of my sin. Most to be pitied.

But now Christ has been raised from the dead…

And so we celebrate hope, new life, and a time coming soon when there will be no more tears, death, crying, sadness, pain.

Happy Easter to you and yours…