One, two, deaths this week – but also, new life.

First our dwarf hamster Whiskers died. She was the first pet my children have ever had and they adored her. Her death was completely unexpected, and it was quite upsetting for the twins to discover her small body rigid and still as they went to pick her up. Screams and tears and “this is the worst day of my life” outbursts. Well not really…but since they have no real memories of the time their dad or grandfather died, Whisker’s death strikes a nerve.

On a far more serious note, we received shattering news that a 13-year-old boy whom the kids had gone to elementary school with died. Tragically. The details are ugly and sad any way you look at them, so forgive me for not “going there.” I simply want to acknowledge that this unthinkable event has happened to a boy with sparkling eyes who once organized a city-wide event to raise money for Denver’s homeless. Lovely family. Good people. Actually my daughter and I just saw he and his mother three days prior outside the library; we stopped to chat and reminisce and catch up on today’s news. And then the call.

My whole equilibrium feels thrown off. How can it not? More to the point, how easy it would be to stay here…

No matter. Because today I understand that choosing life is the antidote to sadness.

Wouldn’t you know that in the midst of grieving our hamster and our friend, we learned that a litter of puppies was born, one of whom will be ours this March. Our family has been waiting eagerly for the puppy’s arrival and the timing, I believe, was meaningful.

We won’t soon forget Whiskers, and we will certainly carry our friend and his family in our hearts. At the same time, we get to anticipate sloppy, wet kisses from our puppy. The mere thought of he or she warms us and keeps us looking to the future.

Like today while skiing with my daughter on a picturesque Colorado day. I thought she was behind me so I turned to look for her. With no sign of the girl with the pigtails and purple plaid ski jacket in sight, I faced ahead. There she was — going forward.

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