Thursday, August 20, 2009

One of Life's Lessons

Life often takes strange twists and turns. Moments of joy and happiness can suddenly give way to moments of sadness and disappointment. This last weekend, we gathered to celebrate my granddaughter Aliyah's seventh birthday. It was a day of family and the happiness of everyone coming together to celebrate the day. There was plenty of laughter and smiles and the joy of childhood. Even the family cat Tufsey joined us. It was a wonderful day.

Then, earlier this week, came word that the beloved Tufsey seemed to be showing signs of being ill. He was scheduled to visit the vet on Wednesday for a checkup and shots. Late Wednesday afternoon, we received word that Tufsey had feline leukemia, a fatal disease for cats. The vet recommended euthanasia but Melissa, the girls' mother, said that she wanted to bring the ailing cat home so the girls could see him one more time.

Aliyah and Keirah were so close to Tufsey that the news of his impending death surely had to be the hardest thing either has ever had to deal with. Keirah, who is nearly three, may not completely understand what is about to happen. Aliyah, on the other hand, is fully aware of what lay ahead. Aliyah took the news hard as could be expected. She was the one who adopted this little feline that brought the family such joy.

As the evening progressed, Tufsey remained in his carrier, sleeping. In her compassionate way, Aliyah read a book to him and tried to comfort him throughout the evening. In addition, this remarkable little girl, wrote a good-bye letter to her furry friend that tugs at the heart strings and also shows all of us adults the sensitivity and compassion that she possesses. I hope her parents, my son and daughter-in-law don't mind if I reproduce this amazing letter here. It is something that I think many should read.

"You know I've been reading a lot of books to you this summer, and you that I love cookies. And that I like people coming to my house. And sometimes things turn into disasters and that's OK. Even though it's not fair, and sometimes when I try to do things for you, it turns into a disaster--like feeding you and playing with you. I have a promise for you when you die. I will never leave you. And I have another promise to you, that I will never leave you alone without Whiskers (his mouse toy). And I like it the most when you curl up, wrap your tabby tail around yourself and go to sleep. You first came to our house, and your kept coming back and we decided to keep you. And I have something for you before you die, that I will bury your toy with you since it's the only thing you'll play with. I will never forget you and always know where you are. I love you.


This is Aliyah's first real encounter with death. Nothing that has been as close to her has ever died. Death is a difficult lesson for a child to learn. In this letter, however, we see Aliyah coming to grips with the impending loss of her pet. To the very end, she comforts Tufsey with words that echo the sensitivity of a soul in touch with the importance of life. Without knowing it, Aliyah has shown us how to give of ourselves without reservation. Nowhere in this touching note is there a word of how she feels robbed or pleas for Tufsey not to go. Instinctively, she knows what will happen. And, yet, even in the moment of facing the impending loss of her kitty, she reaches out to show Tufsey that he is loved and eases her sorrow through reaching out to the cat.

Now you may think I am making too much of this. And I understand that. However, it is my firm belief that life does bring us lessons that we fail to take note of fully. This is just one of them. We can all learn from Aliyah's example of how to show our compassion in a very positive way while, a the same time, coming to grips with such difficult concepts in life that none of us ever escapes. Through this letter, she has given us an example of how children can truly educate us. Thank you Aliyah, and please know that Tufsey will always be with you in life because of the depth and breadth of your all-encompassing heart!