Thursday, February 19, 2015

Bridging the Sorrow

As people say goodbye, they are often left with a huge hole in their heart.  It really doesn't matter if the goodbye is said to a person or an animal - if there was love or affection, the loss is felt deeply.

We all have different ways of working our way through the pain and loss.  There is no perfect way to grieve.  No manual on how to effectively navigate the sorrow.  And certainly no timeline during which we can check off milestones and eventually reach the end at a prescribed date.  We all walk that path individually and differently.

Today, I want to visit the loss of an animal.  For some of us, this truly hurts, maybe because there is no qualifying factor for an animal to love us.  If we take care of them reasonably well, don't abuse their little bodies and spirits - they love us unconditionally.  They are always sorry to see us go and wait patiently for our return.  Our entrance is always met with excitement because their whole existence is wrapped up in us.  They don't have jobs, clubs or games to attend.  We are it.  And, we are enough.

And when they pass....we realize just how much we relied on their total acceptance of us.  We realize how much space they took in our lives and we miss them.  We miss the companionable snuggles, the happy tails both long and short, the soft eyes that gaze at us without a sign of malice, and for me, the shrieking freakout to greet my arrival.  We miss the songs of their people.

So often I hear people say "I'll never have another dog" or "never again....I will never get attached to another animal."  And I understand why they feel that way.  But, for me, I will tell you without hesitation, I will never be without an animal to love.  For me, it is dogs -  and my family will tell you I have too many.  And my family is right.  But here is my perspective on my own affliction.

While I am well aware of what my animals bring into my life I seldom consider what I might be bringing into theirs.  Where would they be if I had not taken them home or decided to expand my circle by one that I had held the moment he was born.  And today, because of an event that has happened in our family, I started to really think about an owners impact on their pet.

We love them.  And, that my friends is enough.  That animal for whatever length of time they have on earth has been loved and cared for.  We have made a difference in the life of something that without us probably might not have had one single happy day on earth.  We have given of ourselves to something that didn't earn it, might not have deserved it and certainly couldn't reciprocate in traditional ways.

But, never make the mistake of thinking "they were just an animal, they didn't know."  They do know.  An animal most certainly DOES know when it is loved and valued. 

So, even though it is painful to watch them suffer and pass.  And it is heart wrenching to lose their impact in our own lives - what we did matters.  And so, just maybe, the gift we gave to our departed animal doesn't have to pass over the bridge with them.  That gift can be given again to another animal and another and another.  It is a way of  honoring the ones that have gone over by making another happy and valued.  It is a way of showing the world that taking care of the least of God's creatures has merit and worth.  And what a fitting tribute to show that your departed friend was such a great experience for you that you are willing to do it all over again.

There are so many circumstances in the world we have no control over but loving an animal is do-able.  And the more you do it, the more you CAN do it.  Because there will always be another dog or cat who needs you.

RIP -Mr.  Fisher Sticks, you were a great cat.....and you were most certainly loved.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Coffee, Tea, and Sympathy

coffee Arrival early for a meeting at a local coffee shop led to a study in human interaction.
Snuggled on the big comfy black sofa in the corner was a couple – oblivious to anything but each other.
The scene and the body language of the man and woman made me slightly uncomfortable.  Almost as if I were peeking through the front windows into their living room.
A laptop, two cell phones and two empty coffee cups littered the coffee table in front of them.  Her tiny black ballet flats casually dropped on the floor as she curled beneath his arm with her stocking feet drawn up beneath her.
Their voices were low and quiet, almost conspiratorial and perhaps even sad.  Their words heard only between the two of them as he routinely patted her knee as if to comfort her.
Perhaps I can be forgiven for noticing so much.  They were, after all, in a public place practically inviting voyeurism.
I like people watching – liking people in general isn’t as easy for me.  But, the whole scene made me wonder…is this a couple at the beginning of something, or one at the end?  Neither wore jewelry which would indicate a belonging to each other or someone else.  They were a mystery to me, but certainly not to each other.
As they gathered their belongings and left I found myself knowing I would forever wonder about their story.  After all, for a brief moment I was a silent witness to a few pages in one  random chapter in some obscure book.
Each day we encounter players in their own productions of the story of life.  Most of the time they are basically ordinary and unremarkable individuals.  But sometimes they are painted in a vibrance we find inordinately interesting and we find ourselves yearning to know more….to see how the story ends.