This morning while walking to the mailbox to put a letter in I saw something lying on the road. At first I thought it was some trash or somthing dropped from a car but I quickly realized it was something else. As I walked closer I knew it was one of our wild cats that we inherited when we bought the farm. As I stood there looking at the poor cat that had obviously been hit by a car but mercifully died quickly a lump grew in my throat.
We moved to the farm for the good life, and I guess in some ways to protect our children. But I knew all along that both life and death are intimate partners of farm life. My children will have the privilege of cuddling and holding day old chicks, of seeing goats born and caring for them. But on the flip said death is all around us. I knew this from the beginning and also knew in time it would get easier in some ways, in many ways not. But I also fervently believed that knowledge of death, without fear of it is something that is important for a healthy mental state.
Yes this was Tiger. Named by the children on the first day here on the farm while they were exploring the place. Just yesterday morning I saw Tiger and the 3 other cats stalking off into the woods looking like a minature pride of lions on the hunt. Now this morning he was no more. We have 2 indoor cats. Honestly we keep them indoors mostly to protect them and ourselves of the suddenly loss. But Tiger lived and died free coming and going as he would.
I had to decided whether to dispose of him myself or tell the children what had happened. Knowing that death was now a part of our life like never before I chose to tell them. It was also important for me to get Tiger off the road. So I ran back to the house, told the children to get ready, grabbed a plastic bag and began mentally preparing myself.
I explained that death is part of life. That it was not meant to be that way but it is. “See the sparrows [read wild cats] see how little they’re valued, and yet not one of them dies without God noticing it.” (Matthew 10:29 ClearWord). I explained that like when “Good Dog Jack” died in On the Shores of Silver Lake By Laura Ingalls Wilder Pa explained that all good dogs have the reward and that Tiger though a cat was no different. I explained that it was OK to cry and be sad but that we must remember that Tiger will never be hungry, cold and scared anymore. So the tears are for us and that we will miss Tiger but not for him.
I always hated stories like The Yearling and Old Yeller but realize now the stories are about growth and ultimately life. Life isn’t perfect, there is death mixed in and I hope that my children will understand and not fear it.