We moved to Ireland in December 2021. It was the fulfilment of a Word given to us by the Lord, that by the time I was 50 years old, we would be back in Ireland. We have moved countries 7 times in our lifetime, so this was not a daunting or new experience to pack up and leave family, friends, pets and just about everything important to us and … start again.
I am besotted with my pets. They are family. I go looking for them if they haven’t come home by the time it’s dark - and we have words about it, when I do find them. I introduce my children to our new pets as ‘meet your new brother/sister’. Leaving our animals in good hands has given me much peace of mind in this adventure of moving countries.
God is always so thoughtful and kind towards us. He knows our heart’s desires even when we don’t speak them out to Him. We decided that we would not get pets in Ireland, as our travel schedule would not be fair on them.
However, God knows how to fill a void. He knows how to bless you in the area that means so much to you.
When we moved into our home in Ireland, there were 2 stray cats that frequented my house for breakfast, lunch and dinner – which of course, I happily complied with. One of them, who I called ‘Ginger’ for obvious reasons, was NOT a people person. He was skittish and wouldn’t allow me near him. But with love and consistency, I slowly won him over. I looked forward to his visits every day and he didn’t disappoint.
Within about 6 months of this mutual exchange (me giving him food and him allowing me to love on him), he picked his own bedroom and started to have sleep overs. I missed him so much while we travelled, but being a stray, he was skilled at looking after himself. And I came to find out from the chap who installs our kitchen appliances, that Ginger is an ‘honorary family member’ of his household too. Ginger adopted both of us.
Today, as I came into my kitchen, he was the first to greet me. I picked him up for a cuddle and he rubbed his forehead on my chin and snuggled deep into my neck. I fed him then left the door open for him to go outside and do whatever cats do all day.
Driving out of our housing complex a little while later, I noticed a red mound lying in the wet grass on the side of the road. I held my breath as I got out of the car and ran over to it. It was Ginger. He was hit by a car and unfortunately it had killed him.
My heart has been through this trauma many times before. I instantly felt the familiar overwhelming sadness that one feels each time you lose a beloved fur-baby. My eyes have released an involuntary flood of tears throughout the day and I am drawn to focus on his empty cat bed next to my desk; the packet of cat meat I left on the table, ready and waiting for that little meow that asks for a second helping. It’s easy to get stuck in this place of grief and longing for what was. And there is a time for that, which is part of the healing process.
Most of us spend our time in the past: we're always looking in the rearview mirror feeling guilt, shame, grief and remorse for things that we cannot change or that were out of our control. When this happens, we completely miss what is going on in the present. We miss all the gifts that God has brought us to enjoy today. And the vicious cycle repeats itself. The things we missed because we weren't focused on today, become the things we look at in the rearview mirror and we feel regret, remorse, guilt etc. for.
Thank God I have the necessary tools to work through the sadness and pain, taking the sting out of my loss. But there’s another side to all of this: instead of only seeing the loss and the pain, I must focus on and give thanks for the positive that has come out of this pain.
As I collected this little bundle from the sidewalk to take it to the ‘grave’ prepared in my garden, I began to thank God for the joy that this little ‘ginger ninja’ (with a hair lip and half an ear), brought into my life; I thanked God for trusting me to show kindness to a lesser being that is also dear to His heart. I’m thankful for the opportunity to give and receive love. One might think that it was I that did more for him by taking care of his daily needs, but it was he who brought healing, love and joy to me.
He will forever be in my heart and in my memories. He will be the one I greet as I pass his resting place when I come into my yard, and when I leave it. This memorial will remind me every day, that my life is richer for having had him in it. It will remind me of what a good God we serve, who would send a seemingly insignificant little thing my way, to make me feel so fulfilled.
Pain is good ... if it produces something positive.
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