May 10, 2010

Living with Regret

Loss of a loved one, even a pet, can cause you to become reflective. I knew this would happen, it has happened when all my pets have passed away. This time, though, the feelings are not so happy (thoughtful). I cannot help but feel regretful and disappointed. I am not thinking about my cat, no quite the contrary. He had a very good life, 20 years to be exact, and that is SOMETHING for a cat. No, I am simply feeling regretful and disappointed in myself. I am the one who is sitting here sad, angry, depressed, and feeling completely out of sorts.

I cannot quite explain it, but it goes something like this: I experienced all these emotions, well, HAVE experienced them over the course of the past few months. I thought I was done, at the end of that grieving process. I felt better, felt completed, felt as if the past was the past and that was it. Now, with Zachary passing and all, my mind races backwards through time, over the past twenty years, and the memories just flood back in. I don't want to go over this again, not so soon, anyway.

I am sure it is normal, I am sure this is to be expected. Loss does that to a person, causes you to think again, to recycle your thoughts. That is where I am today, and I simply do not want to be here.

Yesterday, after I came home from the clinic, I took a walk. All I could think about was how I had been holding on to Zachary, well-passed his time. He was in firmed, aged, and struggling to walk. He still had life in him, even in clinic; but he was so frail (falling over whenever he would scratch his head). I knew it was TIME, I knew this a long time ago. Yet, I held on to him. He was the last of six cats that travelled from San Jose to Phoenix. He was the last cat adopted by me and my husband before we left San Jose, before we left our life there. He represented the life I had then, more so than any of the 14 years I have had since.

Zachary was from another time, a time when my life was full of hope. I had adopted him and his sister, Alvin, because "we had to do so." We had been feeding the mother cat for some time, and these were her two surviving babies. She was killed in the street, and we were going to be moving to another rental home. I couldn't leave them behind, so they came inside to live with us.

They were not easy kittens to raise -- feral and fiery. They bit, hiss, and generally screamed in terror anytime I would get close. My other cats, three of whom were also from this mother, were not this way. They were easy to convert to companionship, happy to have a home out of the weather. These two were different. Nasty sorts. I didn't give up, and when we moved to Phoenix six years later, Zachary made it along for the ride (Alvin escaped and couldn't be found before we left and later was taken to the Humane Society for adoption - I hope).

Zachary came before my son. He was three years old when my son was born. He has grown up knowing all the old cats, and now the last has passed away.

Leaving the Humane Society yesterday, empty cage in hand, was like walking away from a funeral. The casket was nailed shut, the end completed, it was over. I sighed as I walked out. I had done my crying, in the car, in the office, when I said good bye. Now, I just walked to my car, put the old carrier inside, closed the door, and drove home.

My Mom asked why I didn't ask her or my Dad to go with me. My husband and son were not at home; they had been at lunch with his parents. I had just gotten home from a tea with my Mom, my cousin, and a good friend. I am not sure why I didn't wait for others; I just didn't. I saw his distress and knew in my heart it was time. I knew that I had to take him now, while I saw the pain and knew the outcome. If I waited another day, well, it would only be torture for him and for me.

I also knew that this was something I had to do on my own. I am alone now, even though I live in a home with my husband and son. My husband is all but non-existent. He barely speaks to me, other than to ask me to buy things at Walmart. He "might" tell me where he is going, only to see if I am going to make dinner. He doesn't ask me how I am, how I am doing, or even what I am doing. He simply doesn't care about me.

He asks about our son, but only to offer criticism and complaints. He is spending too much time on the computer -- that is the usual line. Even when I tell him that there is more going on, he acts insensitive to it. He doesn't care that our son is suffering too -- emotionally, I mean.

I am living in a hellish dream, a dream with which I cannot awaken. I want so much to be liberated from it, to be set free, yet I am trapped in this nightmare, unable to wake myself up. I go through the motions of keeping a home. I walk through my home and say "why must I leave my home?" Why? I am not the one who has been unfaithful, I am not the one who stopped caring.

I have taken the heat, all the criticism for my failed marriage. It has come from friends, from family, even the closest of family members. I have borne the brunt of it all: emotionally, mentally, physically. My husband has not, at the least, he has not given up anything, sacrificed anything, nor lost anything. He has it all: a girlfriend who thinks he is swell and only wants for his happiness; women on a string who will provide sexual interest over the internet; dating subscriptions so he can browse and look for the NEW WIFE. He has the job, pays the bills, and can come and go as he pleases.

I have nothing. I have a roof over my head, and four walls that remind me daily of the life that once was and hope to be. I have pictures of my family, scattered about, reminders of happier days. I have my home schooling, my rock, my do-it-everyday job. I have my cello, and my weekly lessons. I have the laundry, the housekeeping, the bed making, and the carpets to vacuum. I have the shopping to do. And, I have my son to raise and care for --along with my cats. This is all the family and home I have left. The emotion, the love, and the feelings are dead.

As I walked away from the clinic, empty cage in hand, this is the thought I thought. "This is the sum total of my life: an empty cage." I do have plans, so don't get me wrong. I do have options for a new life. Right now, I just have an empty cage. I have little money that is mine, and my husband is not offering me any of his. I get by with the little extra send to me by an elderly relative (and the always kindness of my parents). It is not enough to strike it on my own, it will not provide enough to get me a home. So I wait. I wait in exile, just like the Israelites did in the wilderness while they tried to show their faithfulness to God.

I am in exile as well. It can be no other thing. I have had everything stripped away from me, and the only thing left is GOD. I rely on Him, I need Him, I cry out to Him. He is there, always there, and He loves me, of this I know. But, I wait for Him to let me leave the exile of this wilderness and walk in to the promised land. I know my promise land waits for me, it is near, very near. Just like Moses and the Children of Israel, who often walked right next to their promised land; so too, do I. I walk so close that I can reach out and almost take hold of it, but not yet. I cannot grasp it yet. No, not yet.

I have asked the Lord why this is so? Why cannot I not take hold of that which promises me such freedom? His answer is always the same: my timing is perfect, my will is perfect: it lacks nothing, it is not incomplete. Yes, I know this. I know this is true, but why must I continue to wait and watch as someone I once loved and believed loved me, is flagrantly flaunting his sin in my face. I can do nothing but watch (and die once more on the inside). I cannot say a word now, there is no reason to do so, for if our Pastor, professional counselors, family -- if what they have said didn't hold any sway -- what will my words do? Nothing. I have done my crying, my ranting, my pleading. I have done it all, and it had no affect on him. He is an insensitive cad, a man with no feeling (no real feeling) or else he would care about the damage he has wrought in our life.

Oh, he has feelings: sexual feeling he can rouse when he chooses and passionate feelings he can write and share with other women; but no real feeling, no real true, deep, honest, and pure feelings that can be shared openly. There is deadness all about, there is a hardness of heart. I see now what God means when he speaks of the hardness of man's heart. There is this rock that cannot be pierced, this stone that cannot be pricked. It will not bleed. It will not be moved. It is a heart of stone, and a heart that has grown so callous and ugly.

I know that the Word promises that God will remove the heart of stone from man and replace it with a new, fleshly heart. Oh, that this would be the case. Oh, that my husband would wake up from his deception and see the trail of blood and refuge he has left behind him. I see it, and I weep. I live it, I walk daily through his trash heap, through the blood and the tears and the stains. I see it, and I wail; yet my tears do nothing, they cause no change of heart.

This is God's purview. It is God's domain. I cannot do anything to change a person's heart, only God can do this. I do pray for this, daily; but the stench of the sin is taking it's toll on me. It has wracked me and knocked me down. I am no longer able to stand by and look at it. It is time for the sin to be removed, to be taken outside the camp that I once called my home. I have tried to leave my home. I have tried to walk away, but I am unable to do so. I cried out to the Lord the other evening: "Please remove this sin from my eyes. I cannot bare to look on it any longer."

I know Zion is coming. I know what will be, I am just wearying of the wait.

Dear Lord,

I have learned through this experience that I am still clinging to dead objects, to things long dead in my past. I am like a woman sitting in her stained and faded wedding dress, waiting for her beloved Groom to show up to the marriage feast. Yet, the man I wait for is not my husband, but an impostor. I wait for him to come, but he doesn't come. The Man I should be waiting for has promised me that He will not be late, that He will come, that He will take me and make me His bride. I have to remove the old faded and torn wedding dress and put on the new dress, that heavenly dress, and dance instead of mourn. The Bride Groom is coming, and the guests are being gathered together. I must not mourn for the dead for they are already buried. No, I must rejoice and dance and look for the One who is coming. I must hold faithful to look for the One who is coming to take me by the hand and lead me into the true and real promised land. I will wait for You, O Lord. I will wait for you, for as long as it takes. You will not tarry, you will not be late. You will not fail to keep your promises. Your are FAITHFUL AND TRUE. I will wait for my God, my King, My Lord, and My Savior -- Jesus, the One True God. Amen, so be it. It is done. Selah!

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