Monday, August 25, 2008

Deeper Love

I have a heavy heart today and really that is the reason for my need to blog. I need to share what is on my heart today. I want to tell you a little bit about a wonderful creature with a big heart who I miss tremendously.

I miss Hemi Angelo! You can see him here in this photo above . He died two years ago on January 21. We had him just a year. He was snatched out of the cage at a Kill Center in Broward County Florida by a cat rescuer named Tamera Gibson Tamera inquired as to why he was there at Animal Control to be euthanized in the first place. They did not know. So she grabbed him and called us and we took him home a few hours after we received her call.

Hemi hid behind the toilet, we found him behind the washing machine, he was so scared and would not even look at us. Well, I was not going to accept that, so I got him comfy in the guest bathroom with snuggly blankets and our tshirts (after we had worn them), yummy food and fresh water, a nightlight - and the radio playing classical music. I would come in and visit every hour and tell him he was safe, that we loved him and all would be well now.

After a few days, he looked me directly in the eye. I broke down. I cried. And cried. I cried because I could not believe this gentle creature with eyes bigger than his face was afraid of man. What had this beautiful cat gone through? I could not even imagine. I was overhelmed by the God-given maternal instinct to protect him now. The tears came because he had taken one small step in trusting me - he looked me right in the eye instead of cowering in the corner looking at nothing.
Now encouraged to take one step further in forming the bonding process, the next day I began to gently pet him with a rubber brush. Baby steps. He seemed to like it. So I began to make my way through his matted, soiled, smelly fur. More baby steps. I had to restrain myself from wanting to take him to the groomers. I could not do that because I did not want to stress him.

Happy to report - a week later the mobile groomer did a fabulous job bathing and blow drying him. And he did so well! I think he actually liked it!

A few weeks later we had a blood panel done on him and got his teeth fixed. His teeth were protruding from the side of his mouth and made his mouth droop. He also drooled quite a bit and so we wanted to get his teeth in tip top shape. He passed the blood panel and came home groggy but oh so adorable! Hemi was like a big stuffed animal. He had begun to adjust to our home. He claimed the couch shortly after returning home from his dental procedure. We laughed because he sat in the VERY middle of the couch! We allowed him to do whatever he wanted. I was so thrilled to have him blend with the rest of our animal family, which at that time consisted of 1 other cat and 2 humans and a very old dog Karamel (see pic) :)

I remember when we first got our front loading washing machine, Hemi sat in front of it and tilted his head as he watched the sudsy clothes spin. And spin. And spin. He sat there for so long. He was so interested! A far cry from the first few days he first came home. I was thrilled to see him face the washing machine as opposed to hiding behind it.

Hemi loved to lounge in the sun on his back on our screened-in patio. He would lay with all four paws to the sun. He sought warmth this way every day. See the lizard on his back? We teasingly joked that Hemi had staged this photo op and we fondly refer to this picture as Hemi's lizard impersonation!

We hung a bell on a ribbon which we placed on the doorknob of our french doors. We taught Hemi to ring it when he wanted to go out on the patio. He learned so quickly! Our Himalayan Angelina learned from watching Hemi! She now rings the bell when she wants out.

Days passed and Hemi became the "king of the castle" We thought he was going to be the Alpha and take over the dominant role from our other cat Angelina. He was extremely verbal. The first time we heard him "speak" my husband and I were so amazed. The words actually sounded like, "IIIII'mm good!" Honestly! We would answer him everytime, "We know you're good Hemi. We know you are good." He would belt this out often in the middle of the night. That cat made us smile - any hour of the day or night.

We made a trip to Georgia to adopt a kitten. Well, we came home with a 1/2 brother sister team which we named "Vidalia" and "Dubya". My husband picked a boy and I picked a girl and they ended up being related. Aren't they precious?! They were 1 year old and 10 months.

Little did we know that they would give our two cats fleas and sniffles, and as a result Hemi ended up getting a cold. Hemi's nose became bloody because he was rubbing it so hard. We took him to the vet and got very bad news. Hemi was in renal failure. My husband gave me the bad news sitting down. I was crushed! I then had some idea of why someone had possibly "thrown him away". But even that did not add up because his blood panel was fine 6 months prior.

Allow me to share my fear of needles. Since childhood, I would faint at the suggestion of blood or needles. I was a very sick child from birth and because of being exposed to all things medical, I had adopted a squeamish side. Say "needle" and watch me hit the deck.

I tell you this because my husband explained that the vet told him the only way to save prolong Hemi's life was to inject a "Ringers" solution from an IV bag into Hemi's neck. Daily.

No matter. Instantly, I pleaded for my husband to learn this procedure at the vets office and then teach it to me. There was no hesitation on my part. I would do whatever it took to keep my Hemi alive. As it turns out, I chose not to hear that Hemi would not live long but the Ringers would prolong his life. I guess I ignored that part. I believe instinctually, I refused the death sentence that so many seek to impose.

Yes, I did it! And I did it for many months. I overcame my fear of needles because love won out xoxo

Hemi liked to be in the car. He loved to be anywhere we were and did not fear anything! One day when my husband had to go to the bank, me and Hemi waited for him in the car. Hemi was on the back seat. It was just after we had realized his condition was worsening despite the treatment. He popped his head up as I began to speak to him. He looked me in the eye. I don't know why I felt the need to tell him this but I spoke, "Hemi, I am going to take care of you. You don't ever need to worry again. I am going to take care of you and you are going to be fine. I promise. You will never suffer again. You will be with us always."

Hemi took a deep breath and then exhaled. He kept eye contact with me for a full 10 seconds. In those seconds, a knowlege connected with my soul. He understood! And he needed to hear that. As soon as he finished exhaling, he put his head on his front paws. And went to sleep. I felt a connection that I cannot explain. The love passed through time and space and this earthly plane. The love and understanding was so powerful. I know, I know, it is hard to describe. My husband didn't understand and I believe that is what is so special about those 10 seconds. Maybe you have had a similar experience and can relate. I only hope you have because it was such a blessing to experience that level of love.

Genesis 1:26 tells of man taking control of the creation God has given man. I feel the bond we have with all of creation is God-given. I believe our animals are gifts specially chosen for us. That day I felt blessed. Content. And completely at peace for whatever we would face with our precious Hemi Himalayan.

Hemi did well for the next several months with the Ringers fluids. Every day I would pray during the few minutes with the needle in his scruff. He always sat still even when I missed the mark and had to inject him again. Some days I lost my confidence and I would cry and throw the cap of the needle at the wall. It just seemed so unfair that this animal had to go through this - after all he had suffered. I would cry and ask, "Why?" and Hemi would quietly look up at my with his ever- changing brown green eyes and look wisely at me as if to ask, "Why are you crying Mom?" He understood more than me that these days were the best days and that soon he was going home - to his eternal home. Tears were healing and freely flowing in those last months with Hemi.

One day Hemi had a stroke. Within hours faded before our eyes. We could not treat his heart because his kidney was failing. I learned you can only treat one organ to save a life. If you have two failing organs you are going to die quickly. He stopped eating. I fought it and tried to feed him through a rubber syringe. I plunged water into his mouth. And cried as he gulped a bit and then let the liquids fall onto the floor. My spirit hit the floor then as I knew Hemi's last day was that day.

We prayed. I held him as my husband chose Romans 8:38 to comfort me in my sorrow, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." That verse has become my special verse to remember that one day I will be with Hemi again. No matter what - - I believe that Truth with all my heart.

In those last few moments before handing him over, I cried and pretended Hemi was just fine as I held him in my arms. My husband took him from me and as I watched him carry Hemi to the car, I said quietly to myself, "You are good Hemi. You are good."

And he was.

Talking about Hemi helps me to keep his memory alive. And to remind myself that Hemi was not only good, but very very good. See you in Heaven my precious boy. Keep the couch warm in our Heavenly Mansion as you await my arrival.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Process of Flight

Flying is a process. First, we make the arrangement. We show up at the gate. We decide to be on time or late.

Then we enter the aircraft and soon after buckle up. Many of us take a deep breath and wait expectantly for takeoff.

The process of flight is well underway and there is now no turning back. Next we decide if we will relinquish all control to God. Then control is consciously surrendered to the pilots. We have no choice. We are not in control. We consciously determine not to fear - to not panic. Seems the initial surrender and search for courage is often a challenge. For a moment we may dig deep within for the courage that is always somewhere inside.

The plane quickly ascends and through the clouds we go. Many would not voluntarily choose to hover this high above the earth, but the necessity of travel often allows no other option.

For the next several hours we can choose to do nothing or ask, "Nap? Read? Stare at the clouds?" And this is the time we often realize the process of flying is not so stressful after all. The process has become a routine and somehow that routine is comforting because we already know the process.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Journey Toward Life!

I received email below from UpWords today. I just couldn't shake the need to share it. I believe the necessity of sharing it will result in a positive takeaway and a reexamination of our true home, which as a Christian - I believe to be Heaven. After all, according to the Bible, hell was never intended for humans. But that topic is for another day's blog....Today I want to focus on the journey toward life!

My hope is always to share comfort with someone in the midst of loss. No, none of us have all the answers and often the question "Why?" goes unanswered when tragedy strikes. The question, "Why?" may never be answered until we appear before our Creator. And so, the goal of this life is to make sure we DO end up before our Creator - not for judgment which leads to eternal death, but for judgment that leads to eternal reward. I hope the words of Max Lucado below will encourage you to ponder the reality of a spiritual world in which our earthly eyes just don't see. But a world which exists 24/7 nonetheless.

Be blessed! And thanks for visiting my blog! ~ Christina Grace
When Death Becomes Birth
by Max Lucado

You live one final breath from your own funeral.

Which, from God's perspective, is nothing to grieve. He responds to these grave facts with this great news: "The day you die is better than the day you are born" (Eccles. 7:1). Now there is a twist. Heaven enjoys a maternity-ward reaction to funerals. Angels watch body burials the same way grandparents monitor delivery-room doors. "He'll be coming through any minute!" They can't wait to see the new arrival. While we're driving hearses and wearing black, they're hanging pink and blue streamers and passing out cigars. We don't grieve when babies enter the world. The hosts of heaven don't weep when we leave it.

Oh, but many of us weep at the thought of death. Do you? Do you dread your death? And is your dread of death robbing your joy of life?

Jesus came to "deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying" (Heb. 2:15).

Your death may surprise you and sadden others, but heaven knows no untimely death: "You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed" (Ps. 139:16).

Dread of death ends when you know heaven is your true home. In all my air travels I've never seen one passenger weep when the plane landed. Never. No one clings to the armrests and begs, "Don't make me leave. Don't make me leave. Let me stay and eat more peanuts." We're willing to exit because the plane has no permanent mailing address. Nor does this world. "But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior" (Phil. 3:20).

Why don't you do this: give God your death. Imagine your last breath, envision your final minutes, and offer them to him. Deliberately. Regularly. "Lord, I receive your work on the cross and in your resurrection. I entrust you with my departure from earth." With Christ as your friend and heaven as your home, the day of death becomes sweeter than the day of birth.

Come Thirsty
© (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2004) Max Lucado
* Copyright 2008 Salem Web Network and its Content Providers. All rights reserved.