The morning grind, as I refer to it in my mind but never out loud, is less a gritty rub and more a familiar and worn pair of slippers.  Shaking Sandman and slumber, I roll to my left side, and with weighted lids, focus beyond the window, relishing the last moments of blanket snuggles and pillow kisses.  Pulling the covers over my shoulders and under my chin, I wriggle and squirm until my body finds the perfect position in my mattressed cocoon.  Thoughtlessly, I stop moving at "just right", my personal imitation of Goldilocks.

I love my winter view:  barren trees, tall and proud, a silhouetted salute to their Creator.  When midnight and blue ease into dawn and magenta, it's past time for me to get up.

Children awakened, half a cup of coffee down, quickly showered and dressed, I'm at the "blow-drying" step of Morning Grind when routine is interrupted by my youngest at my bathroom door.  Quiet sobs companion a river of tears streaming down his cheeks.

I've always loved his cheeks, funny how they're a favorite feature of mine.  I suppose it has to do with his beautiful-from-birth complexion and how they're perfectly rosy, something I must buy at the cosmetic counter to achieve the same effect.

Without a word, I turn off the dryer and pull him into me.  He's becoming less a little boy as my chin lifts to accommodate his height, and I'm almost thankful he's still little boy enough to cry, to need consolation.  My long-sleeved tee becomes a drying cloth for his leaking eyes and nose, but of course, I don't mind.  Through muffled sobs, he manages to explain.

"Bananas is gone."

Bananas is the baby of the bunny pair he received Christmas before last, our favorite because he was different than the other four in the litter, the one he chose to keep.  They were jet black like their parents, but Bananas dipped into the recessive gene pool, and surfaced a silvery gray.  When young, we favored him simply because he was The Different One; in true ugly duckling form, he grew beautiful with time.

Because Bananas is a boy, and rabbits aren't known for "that" without reason, two litters too late we separated him from Pepper, his mother (at $200 to spay a rabbit, separation was the reasonable choice).  Over the weekend, he moved from a cage in the garage to a larger pen in the backyard; to give him a "hiding spot", we placed his smaller cage within the larger.

This morning when Stephen went out to feed and water his babies…Bananas wasn't in the pen; as realization set in, Stephen ran to his "hiding spot", his mama's arms.  My heart ached for him–I know the affections he has for those silly rabbits!  I ached because he was grieving and shocked and panicked…and I ached because there wasn't a thing I could do to make it better.

I'm not sure how long I stood there holding him, letting him cry, but eventually in some desperate attempt to "do something", I moved us to the loveseat and started praying (out loud) for him.  I prayed for peace and grace for Stephen…I prayed for protection for Bananas…I prayed that we'd find him…I offered thanks for the time we had with him…and I thanked God He welcomed our prayers when we didn't know how or what to pray.

I felt like an idiot.

We continued with our morning and just prior to leaving for school, cruel fate taunted and teased us:  the kids and I, standing in our kitchen, saw a blur of fur pass the window.  Excitedly Thomas said, "that was Aussie…chasing Bananas…!" and while the children flew out the door to the backyard, I ran to the garage door to head our Australian Shepherd off….

But she was much too fast, and none of us saw anything more than the woods that edge our lot.  

Stephen started crying again.

My house has become a revolving door today; I wander out the back door, then the side door, then the front, looking for a silvery gray ball of fur.  Today, I despise the squirrels normally in which I take delight.  When did our front yard become a haven for crows?  There are four, and as they tuck and strut and peck for food, they become objects for me to transfer my sadness and frustration, I honestly hated those little black birds…it's crazy, but they look like symbols of death to me.

While there's certainly a chance Bananas will return home, it's unlikely.  Stephen will mourn but soon get over it, and he'll learn a painful lesson in learning to cope with loss.  I suppose that's why sadness has invaded my heart today…I want to protect him…all my children…from loss.  If it were left up to me, I'd insulate them from all of life's worries and pains and losses…

…and in so doing, I'd do them no favors.  In fact, I'm certain it would be to their detriment.

My own mother died after a five-year battle with cancer when I was nine years old.  Third grade.  That's just not supposed to happen.

I'm convinced, however, her premature death ultimately gave me a strength I'd never know otherwise.  It taught me to cope with pretty much everything else that came my way.  It fostered a compassion for others that might never have developed. What could have broken me and given me excuse to become a life-long victim, instead seeded in me a spirit of "carpe diem", a better understanding of the brevity of life…an appreciation for days filled with the good and the not so good.

As a child of God, I pray to have the eyes of Christ, to see from His perspective when my own makes little sense to me.  My heart longs to have an understanding of the "whys" of circumstance, though sometimes that desire isn't satisfied.  One of Scripture's truths I cling to is Romans 8:28; it's one of those gems that convince me of God's sovereignty, that He actually knows more than me (or anyone else for that matter).  That His way is best.

Sooo…bunny trails…I'm hoppin' down frickin' bunny trails because we've got a rabbit on the lose!  Anyways…it's about time to go bunny hunting again…15 minutes has passed since my last check, and maybe this time he'll surprise me by showing up.

Realizing shortly after that I have to pick Stephen up from school, nothing would make me happier.  

Even if it means he doesn't learn a "valuable life lesson"…this time.

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