Tuesday, June 24, 2014

My Birthday, a Dog, and a Guinea Pig

I'm taking care of my sister's pets while she's on vacation, so I spent my birthday in an unusual way—with a dog and a rodent.

The Labrador retriever doesn't like the guinea pig on her doggie bed. However, the little guy's cage needed a cleaning, so I placed him on the bed. These photos below capture their interaction.

Willow tried nudging YoYo off her dog bed.
Poor pup looks defeated.
YoYo is a cuddler. 
Willow wants nothing to do with the little fellow.
Nose to nose.
He is kind of cute, isn't he?
YoYo's charm won her over.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Dance

The Dance by Garth Brooks began to play on the radio as I weeded the flowerbed. I paused and gazed at the puffy white clouds overhead, remembering a time when hearing that ballad made me a blubbering mess.

It all started in June 1994. I know the timeframe because like many Americans, I sat mesmerized in front of my TV, watching police pursue a white Ford Bronco with O.J. Simpson inside.

A couple days after seeing that infamous car chase, I flew to the Cayman Islands with my friend, Tisa. Her husband had died five months earlier, so her therapist suggested she take a vacation.

I wasn’t supposed to be on that trip. However, Tisa encouraged me to book a flight when I told her I’d love to do a girls' getaway like that one day.

Three days into our tropical adventure, plans were made to go snorkeling with a guide. Our other friends headed to the dive shop to secure our reservations after we ate lunch. Tisa and I stayed behind to pay the bill, and then hopped on our motor scooters to meet up with them.

The islanders drive on the opposite side of the road, so Tisa reminded me to stay to the left. She took the lead and pulled out onto the street in front of me. Her scooter wobbled much like a bicycle does when a person starts pedaling. It crossed over the center line into oncoming traffic.

Appalled, I watched as the peril unfolded in slow motion. I saw the horror on the driver’s face as his Jeep collided head-on with Tisa’s motor scooter. She flew up in the air and landed on the Jeep’s hood, and then slid underneath the vehicle. The guy slammed on his brakes, but it was too late. He ran over her head and torso.

Somehow I jumped off my scooter and threw it to the ground. I don’t know why I looked back at the driveway we had just come down. All I know is my blood-curdling screams were heard by a man who ran out of a little shack next to that narrow lane. He took in the scene and hightailed it back inside to phone for help.

Tisa’s helmet was still strapped on her head. However, the tire mark across her chest revealed the severity of her injuries. The sight of her broken body splayed on that pavement would haunt me for years.

Forty-eight hours after Tisa was killed, we flew home to Texas with her coffin in the cargo hold of the plane.

People packed the church at her memorial service several days later. All were heartbroken for her three young children who were now orphaned. What stood out to me during the service was the same song that was played at her husband’s service a few months earlier. The Dance.

Life for others went on as before. Mine did not. I grieved for a very long time. My healing came slowly. Simple things brought me great comfort. Things such as hearing my little girl's laughter as she chased her puppy around outside. Or swaying in a hammock in the backyard. Or delighting in the beauty of a blue sky dotted with puffy clouds.

Clouds much like the ones I saw while listening to The Dance.

Tisa loved that song. After her husband died, she shared with me her insight regarding the lyrics. She said if they'd never met, she could have avoided the heartbreak of seeing him die from cancer. But then, she would have missed the dance. The falling-in-love part of their courtship.

Nowadays, I'm able to listen to that ballad without the raw pain I experienced exactly 20 years ago today. God really does heal broken people.

“As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you.” – Isaiah 66:13

Monday, June 2, 2014