Thursday, October 04, 2007

Dads know when to laugh, and when not to.

Kourtney’s father was always the one to pick her up when she was hurt, brush her off, and bandage her cuts and scrapes. Each time he calmly told her that everything would be better soon, and did what he could to get her to laugh, hoping to help his daughter forget about her pain or disappointment.

When Kourtney was eleven years old he gave her a pet pig; she named it named Reba. One day she came home from school and discovered Reba was sick. With her father’s help, she tried desperately to nurse her pet back to health. Morning and night they tended to the little animal, giving her food, backrubs, medication, and their attentive company.

A few days later Reba’s condition suddenly worsened and Kourtney found her having a convulsion in her stall. In spite of their best efforts to save the pet pig, Reba died that afternoon as the sun went down on the farm.

The loss of her beloved pet was nearly too much for young Kourtney to bear; she sat in her dad’s lap that evening and cried her eyes out. He pulled her closer, rocked her in his arms and cried along with her, heartbroken himself seeing his little girl so distraught and inconsolable, knowing how much she loved her little pig. They sat together in that chair until Kourtney fell asleep, and dad then carried her to bed and kissed her forehead one more time before tip-toeing out of her room.

When Kourtney woke up the next morning and wandered into the kitchen for breakfast, she found that her dad had taken the day off from work. He planned to spend it with her, to give her company as she continued to grieve the loss of her pet.

Together they planned a proper burial for Reba. They fashioned a coffin from several large cardboard boxes they had taped together and placed her inside, swaddled in a pink blanket. Next they made a cross to place at the grave that still needed to be dug.

As her dad dug the hole where Reba was to be buried, beneath a young pecan tree in the grassy field behind their house, Kourtney began to cry again. Her pain only intensified with each shovel full of dirt, one scoop closer to placing the box and Reba into the ground.

Looking up and seeing tears roll down his daughter’s cheeks, Dad suddenly lost his footing and fell into the hole meant for Reba. As he laid on his back peering up at Kourtney, he said the only thing he could think of, “See, even when you’re sad, God can find a way to make you laugh.”

Kourtney smiled, wiped her tears away and began to snicker. Yes, her dad looked funny lying there in a hole in the ground, dirt clinging to the sweat around his neck and his feet sticking up in the air, but that wasn’t the reason for her laughter.

As he had always done, he had managed to pick her up when she was down, even while squeezed into a hole meant for a pig. And for the first time in her life, she saw the opportunity to brush him off for a change.

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