Last night our cat was killed on the busy road in front of our house. My wife and I broke the news to our two children around the kitchen table this morning. It was their first real experience with death.
A misty rain fell as we solemnly gathered around the freshly dug hole behind our house. We unwrapped Solstice from the old table cloth that now was functioning as his burial shroud. Isabel was quiet and tearful; Soren had lots of questions about how it happened and what a dead cat felt like. We each spoke about what we would miss about Solstice. Then we laid him in the ground and took turns shoveling dirt into the hole.
Twelve hours earlier, the mood was quite different. The prior evening, that same back yard had hosted 13 young kids, whooping and hollering. We had invited five other families over for a Saturday night potluck. Most of the adults had wisely stayed up on the deck, while mayhem and anarchy ruled down below. In our small yard, there was simultaneously a baseball game going, kids on the swings, stomp rockets being launched into the sky and a sword fight. Rumor has it there were a few kids in the giant lilac bush as well, but I never saw them. In the fading twilight, it was a tremendous demonstration of youthful life energy. (Aside: I am thinking about ways to transform kid activity into a renewable energy source that might be available for federal stimulus dollars. President Obama has not returned my calls on that one yet.)
In the past twelve hours, our back yard has seen life and death. Today I give thanks for the sacred ground that under-girds and sustains both. A back yard is a simple thing that I don’t often think about. But important things happen there.
Question: What important things happen in your back yard (or front yard, or porch or kitchen?)