Waiting for Sunrise
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I’ve had some break-ups that really knocked me down. I can recall a recanted “I love you” or two that ripped a hole in my heart.
But I was completely unprepared for the news that came in the late days of February… and the heartache that followed.
Let me preface this by saying that I was never a cat person. Always loved dogs. However, I moved out of the dorms and into my own at the age of 22, and my first act as an adult was to become a pet owner.
I researched about dogs and talked to many animal professionals and dog owners. Yet somehow I ended up with a scrawny black alley cat from Animal Aide.
I was nervous at first but we actually bonded. And six years later I considered her my only child. She saw me through two Masters degrees, three boyfriends, four jobs, five city-to-city moves, and countless friends. There were a few particularly dark days when I felt like she was the only true friend I had left.
On February 22, I took her to see the vet. Nothing serious. She just coughed a little. I expected to be in and out and on to a friend’s house to watch Rent and eat Thai food.
Instead of singing Broadway tunes with pad thai noodles, I was staring in disbelief at x-rays that showed a sack of fluid that had built around my kitty’s heart. She had feline leukemia, a pesky virus that has the ability to lie dormant in the body for years.
In the following days every worst-case-scenario prognosis was handed to us. When the word cancer made its first appearance, I knew it was the beginning of the end.
I’d never done anything so hard as to put my best friend to sleep. I spent four days with my parents afterwards and those days now are mostly a blur.
I couldn’t stop crying. I either slept too much or not at all. At work, I always kept the door to my office closed. When I was home, I either closed myself up in my room or stayed out all night. No matter where I was or who I was with, I always wished I could disappear.
And forget about praying. I don’t think I talked to God for three weeks. I wouldn’t be caught dead in church, and I certainly didn’t find anything even remotely comforting in the Scriptures.
I remember a friend sending me a text message that said, “You are in the Father’s arms.” I said to myself, “The Father’s arms have never felt so cold.”
I couldn’t understand His plan. What thought process would lead Him to take something so precious away from me? It’s not like I’m an actual mother. I’m not even married. I felt like God had stolen the only thing that I ever felt was really mine. Where’s the loving Father in that equation?
I’m not sure if she coined the phrase but Sara Groves once told me in an interview that serving God is “swallowing the sovereignty pill.” I finally understood what she meant, and I found the pill large, jagged and downright painful.
If you've ever lost someone, you know how it feels. It hurts to breathe. You take your anger out on anything innocent in your path. Every day looks the same, and it feels like things will never be good again.
I’d love to be able to give you a few Bible verses and a hug but I know from experience nothing helps. The last thing you need is another sermon full of empty sentiments.
What you need is a friend, and I thank God everyday for a mother who sat up with me on the sleepless nights, friends who helped me laugh again, and family members who let me lean on them when I couldn’t stand on my own. Your personal relationships are what sustain you day in and day out during times like these. They did for me.
I also learned the true meaning of grace. God’s grace is one of the many enigmatic aspects of His personality. I never fully understood what it was for, and that’s because I never needed it until I felt like it was gone.
Grace is for tragedy. Grace is for heartache. Grace carries you when the road gets too rocky and when the night get too long. Grace forgives your outbursts and your seclusion. It understands your defiance and holds you while you’re throwing fists in the darkness. We can’t make it without grace, and I think God knows that long before we ever have need of Him in that capacity.
In addition to good friends, music was like medicine for me. Many songs helped me get through including Matthew West’s “You Know Where to Find Me” and “Jesus Take the Wheel” by Carrie Underwood. However, one song let in a glimmer of hope every time I listened to it.
“See the Sun” is the last track on singer Dido’s sophomore album, Life for Rent. It’s the tender ballad of a friend helping another friend back on his feet after a break-up. She forces him out on a walk, tells him to wipe his eyes and that he can “wear anything as long as it’s not black.” She opens the blinds literally and figuratively and draws her friend out of his cave.
In the chorus, she sings, “You probably don’t want to hear / Tomorrow’s another day / But I promise you / You’ll see the sun again.”
While it was impossible to believe at the time, I soon learned that I would too see the sun again. We all will. The darkness in our lives is meant to be temporary.
I can’t say I’m leaping for joy to have gone through hard times. There are still a lot of “whys” that still have no answers. I do know that I have yet to see a nightfall that didn’t have a dawn. So I’ll try my best to encourage you. Whatever midnight hour you’ve found yourself in, remember that there is a sunrise on its way to greet you, embrace you, and assure you that everything will be all right.
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