Sunday, March 14, 2010

Prodigal Cats and Tearful Wives

Dwayne writing once again … forgive me for the intrusion, but some form of closure regarding the “beast” is called for. I promise not to invade again without explicit permission … or some other good reason.

After wandering through the wilderness of backyards, stray dogs, and birds unwilling to lie down before his clawless might, the prodigal cat decided to return home. Dana and I had retired to bed, thankful for another day of life and health, but also melancholy about the seemingly inevitable fate of the beast.

She wanted the monstrosity back because she loved it. I wanted it back because she loved it.

Our eyes were heavy with sleep and sadness when a light tapping on the door caught our attention. The daughter entered our bedroom holding a black bundle of fur and saying softly, almost whispering, “Mommy, look what I found.” The fact that the daughter hasn’t referred to Dana as “Mommy” for some years only added to the tenderness of the moment.

The daughter heard a sound outside her window, looked, hoping against hope, and she saw the beast. The prodigal had returned. She gathered the cat from the back door and rushed to our room.

As the beast fell from daughter’s arms to Dana’s, I saw the most amazing transformation come over my wife’s face, and I was reminded, once again, why I love her so much. There was no scolding, not even in jest. There was only unadulterated joy at the return of one loved so much.

The whole parable of the prodigal son is one that I’ve mostly viewed from the perspective of the son … his selfish choices, his squandering of the gifts given, his lack of gratitude and understanding. It’s a perspective I understand with my own failures and struggles in life.

Yet Dana helped me see through the eyes of the parent dying for their child to return to love and grace.

She laughed, she hugged, she told the cat she loved it so many times I wondered if I should leave for a few days and come back. Her heart was so full it overflowed, leaking from the corners of her eyes in the form of salty tears of joy. She took the hungry thing and went straight to the kitchen and fed it, all the while carefully inspecting for injury or damage.

It struck me as I witnessed this miracle that Dana is the closest thing to transparent I’ve ever personally witnessed in a human. And then, like lightening hitting the same spot twice, it struck me that her love is pure and powerful and so … god-like in its application.

You see, Dana and the daughter often butt heads. Sometimes to the point of me wanting to severe one of the heads from its young neck! (Kidding … mostly) I’ve seen this woman, my wife, be so exasperated and frustrated and hyper-ventilated that she could chew bricks and bore holes through solid steel with laser eyes. Yet, as soon as the daughter shows any sign of humanity and remorse, Dana demonstrates an even greater love than she gave the cat.

It is unfeigned and unconditional. My wife KNOWS how to forgive (on a side note, she’s probably aided by a less than stellar memory, but that’s a story, perhaps lots of stories, for another day).

I often feel that the daughter takes advantage of Dana. Not knowingly, because the daughter is not evil, just young. She asks for favors and repays them with sarcasm and snottiness (YES, that’s a word, or it should be). And Dana keeps giving and loving.

I’ve seen her greatest joys and deepest sorrows center around the love she has for that girl. Please understand, dearest daughter is a beautiful, wonderful young lady 91.3% of the time, and that percentage seems to be improving as she matures. Yet Dana’s love and general patience have remained unwavering. One day the daughter will realize the full scope and power of her mother’s love and be prepared to love her own children, and husband, the same way.

I’m reminded of One Republic, one of my favorite groups, who has a song titled “Prodigal”. One of the verses has the following:

I’ll take everything from you,
But you’ll take anything, won’t you?

Whether it’s the cat, or the insecure daughter trying to find her way in the world, or the selfish husband, we often TAKE everything from her. We rely on her ministrations to make it through the day. We need her affirmation and laughter or we lapse into modes of silence that threaten to become black holes of introspection.

And in return, she TAKES anything we give her, loving us and rejoicing in our joys, sorrowing in our sorrows.

Dana teaches me, and the daughter, and the cat too if its brain was any bigger than a black-eyed pea, that love is long on patience and forgiveness and short on memory and offenses.

The beauty of that is it makes me never want to take advantage of her love. Her vulnerability and tenderness makes me, more than ever before, want to protect her and keep her soft. Shoot, I’d probably fight a dragon for her … or at least let her keep up with me as we ran away.

If you ever have a chance to receive a prodigal, be it a cat or daughter or husband or wife, remember what Dana has taught me … love and forgiveness are more powerful than the very gates of hell. If God’s love eclipses the vision of my wife, then Heaven will be more wonderful than words can describe.

Who would have thought that stinking monstrosity had anything left to teach me?

Here's One Republic's Prodigal ... be sure and pause Dana's playlist at the bottom of the page.


  1. "The fact that the daughter hasn’t referred to Dana as “Mommy” for some years only added to the tenderness of the moment."...brought tears to my eyes as the rest of your post drew me closer with each breath. I haven't known Dana very long in this unique blogging way, yet I can see and feel her love. I am a better person already, just for knowing her. Dwayne, you are such a talented writer like your Wife. I hope you continue to share here or on a blog of your own. It's nice to see a view from your perspective. I could relate to so much of this post as I deal with at times, an ungrateful college age Son and a young Daughter who struggles and lately feels like her world is coming unraveled. Nice song at the end. I've never heard it before. What I loved most about this post was knowing Dana is at peace and happy and how I could see the relationship we have with our Heavenly Father in this post. May the Beast stay put for a very long time.

  2. Great post Dwayne -- I loved learning more about my new friend Dana from your perspective as her husband. Anyone that loves her kitty (and family!!) that much is pretty darn wonderful in my book!


  3. First of all, I'm so GRATEFUL that your little prodigal cat has returned home! I can't imagine the joy!

    Second, Dwayne, I love the way in which you love sweet Dana. It warms my heart and makes me feel all tingly inside (also, your writing makes me weak!!)! Here's to happy endings, all the way around!! Cheers!!

  4. What love! Thanks for sharing.

    Dana, thanks for stopping by my blog. Your honesty was touching. I'm glad it lead me back to yours. I was truly blessed by your husband's post.