Erik ended a weary week of travel by coming home to a house of chaos. Lucy had gone missing.
Xander interviewed every family member on "when did you see her last?" while Hans raced around the house opening closets, slamming doors, searching under every bed and table. Flashlights in hand, Gabe and Mary approached me with tearstained faces to start a neighborhood search.
I gave a Erik a quick kiss hello and stepped out into the dark with my little ones as they called, "Luc! Lu-eee! Princess Lucy Mirabelle Pirate!"
As she approaches her second birthday, Lucy has become a pampered little cat. She goes outdoors only for a quick prowl and rarely leaves the yard. She's never crossed the street and prefers the calm companionship of Erik and I to our more boisterous children. As Mary says, "I lo-OVE Lucy; but she doesn't really like me."
Yes, she's a bit disdainful of us, but she's always around-- circling my feet, napping over the heat register, perched on the edge of the couch as the kids play catch in the family room. Her disappearance for any amount of time is a cause for concern.
Clinging to my hands, Gabe and Mary shone their flashlights into every bush and tree (and more than a few windows) on our block. Hollow, we turned to home and bed. They crept under Gabe's covers, whispering and crying and praying until they fell asleep with tears on their faces; arms wrapped around each other.
Lying awake, I planned a morning run traversing all the streets and roads in our area. I'd be looking for a body, not a living purring cat. The musical cheeping of the chicks drifted into my ears from the bathroom and I mentally cursed myself for bringing another risk into my children's lives.
I grew up with a flock of chickens and I knew all too well that one misplaced step would split a baby chick wide open. Although they were unnamed and largely unloved, my six year old heart still aches with the bitter wound of "I caused the death of a living creature. This life ended because of my actions." Even after they grew, a visit from a neighborhood dog or a silent virus would leave one of our cheerful hens broken and still.
All of our lives are subject to one misplaced step, one turn of the steering wheel, one misplaced bit of DNA, one action that ends a marriage or a career. Life astonishes me with its fragility.
As Erik and I discussed the addition of each new baby to our family, I constantly questioned, "Can I withstand the risk of another pregnancy?" "Am I willing to risk a birth defect, the permanent loss of my health, a stillborn?" "Am I emotionally capable of handling the ups and downs, the challenges and heartbreak of another person?"
My friend Angela wrote a life-changing post on Segullah this week titled Success as Joy's Counterfeit. I highly recommend it. But one of the comments outlining personal troubles put a crack in my heart. Sometimes life gnaws with an impenetrable ache-- it's just too hard.
And yet, humans are optimists. We continue to marry and have children and raise baby chicks even when we know that loss is looming around each corner.
I found Lucy the next morning huddled in Gabe's closet. She's very ill with a kidney infection; not eating and snarling when we touch her or try to give her medicine. But I feel confident that she'll soon be racing down the stairs and amusing us with her antics. Her presence prompts us to speak a little softer and sweeter to each other. You can hardly enter a room calling "Hi Pretty Kitty." to the cat and not have a kind word for your sibling.
And even if we lose her, I don't regret bringing her home that bright May day-- love is worth the risk.