Carmel, Carl and Cats
Those three C’s might surprise you. Of course I have other awesome C’s in my life, like Craig, Cameron, Carole and Cheri but today I am going to write to you about these three C’s.
Carmel, CA was a special place for Craig. As a child, he would head up the coast every summer and stay with his grandparents in the Monterey/Carmel area. He loved to tell stories about roaming around the hills by their house shooting lizards and birds with his BB gun. In fact, his favorite story was the one about him accidentally shooting out the huge picture window in his grandparent’s A-frame house and not even getting in trouble! After we were married, Carmel became a favorite place of ours to visit on anniversaries or for a little vacation in the summer. We bought passes to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and took the kids up there whenever possible. For my last birthday, we went to Carmel for the day with the kids and took pictures out on the rocks for our Christmas card. It was beautiful.
Now that you know the background of Carmel, it makes sense that the kids and I would choose Carmel as the perfect “resting place” for Craig. We found the most beautiful cemetery, that borders a golf course and has a view of the Pacific Ocean where we purchased a Double Garden Plot for Craig and I. Deer and neighborhood cats roam the cemetery and a lighthouse is directly across the street. El Carmelo Cemetery is a perfect place to visit, experience the beauty of God’s creation and remember our amazing husband and dad.
This is where the second C comes in. The last task of Craig’s burial was to order a marker for our site. This task was completely overwhelming to me and one that others assured me didn’t have to be done immediately. The kids and I made a temporary marker out of one of his “re” cards and laminated it. We couldn’t stand the thought of having his grave unmarked so whenever we would go visit, we would hunt it down if it blew away or replace it as needed. Alec, Cameron and Karimy really wanted me to get that marker ordered, but I wondered how in the world I would put words to a life, such as Craig’s. There just isn’t enough room on the marker to say what needs to be said. I wandered around the cemetery looking at markers and what people said and just couldn’t decide…the English language is so limiting. For example, should I say, “Loving Husband, Dad, Son, etc” or should I say, “Beloved Husband, Dad, Son, etc.” I really contemplated this because “loving” means he loved well and “beloved” means we loved him well. But really, it was both. I texted my friend, Meka, and asked her if she knew of a word that said both, but alas, she confirmed we don’t have one. Maybe it should read “Beloving”? And then there’s the issue of my side of the marker. It seems so grim to write my name on it and birth date so that all that is left to do when I die is add the date of my departure. How will that make my kids feel when they come to Dad’s grave? I couldn’t bring myself to do that, so another option was to get two smaller markers, one for each of us. But we were so connected in life, that I really wanted to share a marker with him. After two failed appointments with a monument place, I finally found a different place where “Carl” answered the phone. Upon sharing my difficulties with the marker, he not only empathized with me but said I could come right over and he would help. I hung up the phone feeling so happy about Carl, because of his compassion and availability. I called my mom and told her I was heading straight over and that I just had a feeling Carl was a Christian since he was so kind.
As I was driving around a sketchy part of downtown San Jose trying to find the place, I suddenly felt overwhelmed by the task and the fact that I was all alone. It was as if Satan was whispering in my ear, “You are all alone. You have to do this on your own. Just like everything else in life from now on. Where are your kids now? Where are your friends now? You are all alone. This is how it will be from now on. You are all alone.” The tears started falling down my face as the fear welled up inside my heart. I had my encouraging playlist on in the car and realizing I was being “attacked” I said aloud, “I am not alone. I am not alone. I am not alone. Jesus is with me. I am not alone. I will never be alone. Jesus is with me. I am not alone.” The words to Kari Jobe’s song soon replaced the thoughts in my head:
I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me
In the midst of deep sorrow
I see Your light is breaking through
The dark of night will not overtake me
I am pressing into You
Lord, You fight my every battle
Oh, and I will not fear
I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me.
The tears stopped, and even though I turned the wrong way on a one way street and then had to park up the street in front of some shady shops, I felt much better knowing for certain I wasn’t alone in this task. When entering the Cypress Granite lot, I noticed a black and white kitty. I opened the door to see 2 more cats inside the small store cuddled up on Carl’s desk. I immediately felt at home and calm. It was as if God was smiling down on me, well because, if you know me at all, you know I am a huge cat fan. (The one thing I couldn’t talk Craig into giving me was another cat. I think he knew he had to keep this cat thing under control! My own kitty, Juliette, has her own Instagram and Facebook page. Oh and my friend, Emily, and I have actually been to Cat Con.) So it was entirely fitting that God would lovingly send me to a place with multiple cats. This man, Carl, had 13 cats that he cared for at his shop and more at home. This little detail, was a huge deal to me and I felt wrapped in God’s loving arms.
Carl and his cats spent the next few hours with me, helping me choose not only the right color granite, but custom designing a marker for Craig. Carl shared his faith with me, including that his wife was a pastor’s kid and that he had a heart for the broken and hired those who had made some mistakes in life, giving them a second chance, just like God does for us. I shared about Craig, his ministry, his love of family and eagles. He told me about his kitties and was the most patient loving man. I stepped out of Cypress Granite, with renewed faith and several paper versions of a marker that I couldn’t wait to show the kids.
Here’s a link to the song in case you need to hear it today. You are not alone. Don’t believe the lies of the Enemy who wants us to feel alone and abandoned. The truth is God loves you and will never leave you or forsake you. God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 NIV
In the midst of deep sorrow, His light IS breaking through. I am blessed. I am loved. I am not alone.
I pray that you realize this also, no matter what you are going through.
In His Grip,