Turtle Twin

What’s in the road?

I had just turned into our development when I saw the awkward obstacle straddling the yellow lines of the main road. A small turtle came into view as I slowly approached in our truck.

My mind jumped back three days to the painful sight of our old and beloved Florida Cooter, Quinne, deceased in our backyard pond. Though Quinne lived a good long life, it had been a tearful and difficult time for our family when we said goodbye to the friendly amphibian we owned for over a decade.

A low sigh slipped through my lips at the sight of the traveling turtle. Both boys recognized the soft emotion shaping my outburst, and they immediately perked up to investigate its cause.

“A turtle! Let’s get it!”

“Mom, can we pull over and rescue it?”

Their pleading questions overlapped like thick blankets on a cold winter night. Since they were little – and because turtles and road meet often in Florida – we had rescued dozens of turtles from roadways.

Gas pumps aren’t the only reason I carry hand sanitizer in my car; wild turtles are often caught and tossed in the back of the truck to be carried to a safer and wetter environment than the roaring roadway.

Still, I hesitated, mainly because the road wasn’t a busy one and the turtle was inching closer to his destination of more aquatic square footage. But I also heard the eagerness in their voices and realized this particular rescue might help heal the heart wound of losing Quinne.

I parked the truck safely out of traffic’s way and reminded the boys that I would get the turtle and they were to stay on the sidewalk. We trotted toward the suddenly shy turtle, whose body parts disappeared as he spotted our approach. I checked for cars then moved in to pick the little fellow up.

To my surprise a black and yellow-striped head peeked out. His face was nearly the same shape that Quinne’s had been, though a smaller version. A Florida Cooter?

Quinne’s twin!

“He looks like Quinne!” Chase shouted the words and I nodded mutely, feeling a tightening in my throat as we took him to the water’s edge. We rescued many turtles throughout the years, but never one that looked so much like Quinne.

Until today. Glazed sadness turned slow circles into the clear, sparkling stained glass of gratefulness for God’s mercy.

“But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting, On those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children.”  ~ Psalm 103:17

I placed the turtle a few feet from the pond’s edge and we squatted down to watch. The clarity of the moment sunk in like a clear, crisp imprint on my heart, warm sunlight and dancing dragonflies and the turtle twin we’d rescued at our feet.

“He does look like Quinne. His face and his shell. Look at the yellow stripes on his head.” Cole whispered loudly.

“It’s a little Quinne!” Chase’s excited voice carried across the windy day, causing the small turtle to turn back into a headless and legless shell.

“I think God gave us this as a special gift today, to remind us about Quinne and that He loves us.” My words seared the moment to memory.

I love opportunities to share God’s goodness and mercy with our boys. As a parent, it’s the pinnacle of my life and day to point out God’s perfect care weaving through our lives and hurts and pain and joy.

We watched quietly for a few minutes, until Quinne’s twin realized just how close the sparkling water was. Like a shot he darted into the water, leaving a mud trail under the clear surface and disappearing from our view. On the walk back to the truck, Chase grabbed my hand, squeezing my palm and my heart tightly together.

“I’m glad we rescued him. He reminded me of Quinne.”

I turned my face up, up, higher – toward the clouds dotting the bright blue sky.

“Me, too, honey.”

Your mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. ~ Psalm 36:5

Thank You that You who laid the foundations of the earth know how to warm a mother’s heart and heal my children’s hurts. Thank You that Your mercy reaches to the heavens and Your faithfulness to the clouds.

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