Saturday, October 20, 2012

Like Wildflowers, We Bloom and Die

Psalm 103:15 Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die.

This week we finished reading Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.  For a dog lover this book is a heart warming yet heart wrenching read!  Through the pages we fell in love with Old Dan and Little Ann. Their antics, battles, victories and most importantly their relationship with Billy left us desiring the company of man's best friend in our home.  We lost our beloved family member, Sam, about five years ago and there's still a void in our hearts.

I read aloud to the kids nearly everyday and the kids know my emotional sensitivities get the best of me on a regular basis.  While reading, if something touches my heart, the next thing they know I'm fanning myself trying to hold back the tears.  The day before we finished the book I had to call it quits.  I was so choked up I couldn't speak or read. The tears were flowing freely.
***Spoiler Warning*** Don't read on if you haven't yet read this book***

How could I not cry? 

After we had fully developed an affection for the coon hounds, Dan and Ann, we learn in an effort to save Billy, their owner and main character of the book, from certain death, Dan and Ann fight off a mountain lion and eventually kill the beast, but not before they both suffered serious injury. Unfortunately, during the jostle with the savage beast, Old Dan endured damaging fatal swipes from the blade-like claws of the mountain lion.  Dan saved young Billy's life, while sacrificing his own.

Despite all efforts to save Old Dan, Billy realized there was no hope for his dear dog.
"Old Dan must have known he was dying.  Just before he drew one last sigh, and a feeble thump of his tail, his friendly gray eyes closed forever."
At this, I continued to try to maintain composure, albeit unsuccessfully.  Old Dan had breathed his last breath, and then he was gone.  I felt I was reliving my Sammy's death.

The book continued, 

"At first I couldn't believe my dog was dead.  I started talking to him. 'Please don't die, Dan,' I said.  'Don't leave me now.'

We continued to hope Old Dan would recover, pop his head up and lick Billy on the face reassuring his dear friend all would be okay.

But he didn't.

He was gone.


I quit reading for the day and bawled my eyeballs out.

That afternoon I received a text from a friend.  A classmate of ours had died suddenly of a heart attack. Forty-five years young, a father of three.  A good guy. Gone.

Sometimes death comes so fast, so unexpected and it feels so final.  The void left feels like a huge chasm.

My heart aches for his wife, kids, parents, sister, and friends.

Sometimes life just doesn't make sense.

The following day we resumed Where the Red Fern Grows.  I thought we'd gotten through the worst of it.  Sadly, I was wrong.

Little Ann, Old Dan's constant companion, lost all hope for living when Old Dan passed. Billy had to watch his surviving pet give up on life.  He found her laying upon Old Dan's grave.  She used the last of her strength to drag herself to his grave where she collapsed and died.

When Billy realized Little Ann was also gone, he...

"laid her head in his lap and with tear-filled eyes gazed up into the heavens.  In a choking voice, I asked, 'Why did they have to die?  Why must I hurt so?  What have I done wrong?'"

Overhearing Billy's questions, his mom replied, 

"I know this seems terrible and I know how it hurts, but at one time or another, everyone suffers.  Even the Good Lord suffered while He was here on earth."
I can only imagine my classmate's family asking the same questions.  Why?  Why did he have to die?  Why does death have to hurt so?  Could it have been prevented?

Struggling through this book to the end was a mission of dedication.  I was a bawling mess.  The kids think it's rather funny that books affect me so, but how can one not cry!?!?

We have a family joke.  My hub has "one" feeling.  While I have Feelings, he has A feeling. I'm not sure why my emotions are so evident and I don't understand why he doesn't "feel" or have sensitivities.  Empathy is needed in the world.  I'm sure he wishes I would stop crying, while I wish I could see him display some emotion. Maybe it makes for balance.  Who knows?

All I know is Where the Red Fern Grows ruined a GOOD way!  It's such a great book for the whole family!

Needless to say, after finishing it, I had to take a school break.  I was completely emotionally drained.

No comments: