Bittersweet

daisies

I love the way this daisy unfolds. See how the yellow petals unfold into white petals?

Nature and gardening is miraculous. I never take it for granted.

There is so much to see in a garden. Birds and butterflies and lady bugs. And sometimes at night, lightning bugs.

The other night I was just outside the patio door and saw one lone lightning bug. I immediately thought of Abi.

How silly and fun she was. How she monopolized my attention and thought I belonged to her. How she gazed at me with unadulterated love in her eyes.

If she could, she would blink in the darkness to say “Mom, I’m here. See me???”

petunias

I immediately stopped moving and watched it flicker in the darkness, overcome with emotion.

This is what grief is. The blending of sadness and life and moving forward and laughing again and sometimes, seeing something that moves us back into the past.

This process is what I’ve come to think of as bittersweet. Pleasure tinged with sadness or pain.

I think of lemonade. Or sweet pickles.

I think of my sweet little Abi saying goodbye but letting me know it’s okay.

“I see you, my sweet baby.”

petunias

I had not intended to write about this when I began writing today’s post. I planned on writing a happy go lucky post about gardening and nature. And then these words flowed onto the page.

But that is how grief is. You are fine for awhile and then you suddenly dissolve into tears.

I guess it’s appropriate that tears burn as they roll down your face. Don’t you think?

It is the squeezing out of sadness, like squirting mustard from a plastic container. It is sweet memories mixed with sorrow.

And you just never know when something will squeeze more tears from you, though you’ve already cried bucketfuls.

So please be patient with me as I go through these necessary stages.

fresh veggies

I picked another ripe cucumber and a pepper when Charlie and I were out for our first morning stroll this morning.

I saw that more gardenias are blooming.

I walked around and could hardly believe what happens in my garden space overnight.

Bittersweet…

Charlie

At night I brush Charlie. He loves it. Sweet unhurried moments between us. I gently brush him and feel his body relax under the soft bristles.

It is part of our new ritual. The forming of rituals between us.

Life never stands still. Not for a moment. We have to grab onto the glimpses of lightning bugs. Cherish those moments in time.

Walk around and be fully aware of the simple beauty that surrounds you. It might be a new bloom or a male cardinal singing his beautiful song high up in a nearby tree.

Some people don’t take the time to do these things. They’re busy and rush through life chained to the ticking of the clock.

And the little things are so very important for both our physical and mental health.

flowers

Please don’t feel that you have to keep writing comments saying how sorry you are for my loss. It is not necessary.

I know that all of you are there for me. I feel your caring and concern and I so appreciate you all.

Just let me write the words while it all sinks in. Let me grieve and just be there, you wonderful readers who have stuck by me through thick and thin.

With loss first there is shock and immediate pain and the feeling that life will never be the same. Finally comes acceptance.

Life goes on.

There is a line from the Romeo and Juliet play by William Shakespeare. Juliet is saying goodnight to her beloved Romeo. Their sad parting is also sweet because it makes them think about the next time they will see each other.

And if life does not intervene in a tragic way and take someone that you love from you, then you will say goodnight again.

Which is why each “goodbye” is bittersweet.

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84 Comments

  1. No one ever gives expressions of sympathy because they have to, but because they want to. People who think sympathy is something that they have to do just don’t bother to do it! Maybe you can consider the expressions of sympathy from your readers to be like fireflies — they are little bursts of warmth that give recognition to your dear little Abi.

  2. My experience is that grief comes and goes in various stages over a long period of time. My son has been gone five years now, and something will come to my mind and bring that bittersweet feeling that you mention. It is both sad that he is gone and I miss him and happy because I know he doesn’t suffer anymore and I was blessed to have him in my life. Time does take the sharp and painful edges off but I don’t think it ever leaves if there was great love.

  3. Everyone needs a special place they can go when losses like this devastate their lives, be it pet or human alike. I would hope your blog always remains a special unadulterated place for you. There really arn’t alot of places where you can just “be” at these times. We live in a world that wants to count the days of our sorrow too often or perhaps tell us, “time to get a grip”. None of these so called remedies can help one iota when you’re falling into the deepest darkest pit or when simply lifting your head off of your pillow is more than you can bear for one more day.

    For whoever quoted, “Man’s best friend” really knew what they were speaking of. Pinterest has some of the most touching expressions on pet loss. Expressions that clearly tell you so many before you travelled this road too. Some of them can be so profound they will indeed draw a special tear.

    For many, death is death, sort of a end of story, but for others it is not. I do believe our pets can bring special messages to us, not only in life, but in death as well. However, it takes “eyes to see” and “ears to hear” what those messages might be. Questioning at a time like this I personally believe is healthy and may lead you on a path that opens up new dimensions in your own understanding of life, living and dying.

    In a small way, you really did walk with your own little miracle for many a day but maybe you just didn’t see it.

    If nothing else, I think many of us understand these ones were really something very unique to the heart of God. Otherwise, how on earth could they ever have done all that they did?

    1. I would very much hate to think that Abi’s story ended when she died. She was such a vibrant little dog. It tugs at my heart to visualize her, but it also calms me because I love/loved her so.

      1. I still talk to my boys every day Brenda. Even in itself, the fact that they touched our lives so deeply can help us to understand how great a purpose they truly had.

        There is one promise given to each and every one of us which says …Love cannot die. And, it is a promise that holds the hearts of multitudes.

        These animals are almost like kindred spirits when they come. A spirit that tells us of innocence, purity and of much gentler ways. They are closer to the heart of God than I think many can realize.

        Perhaps the words of Robert Louis Stevenson really do say it all.

        You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us.
        Robert Louis Stevenson

        Bless you …

  4. Well written, well thought out post on bittersweet. I teared up while reading, thinking about my late loved ones, visits I rushed through , etc….what you said .

  5. I think you just expressed perfectly how Love never dies – it revisits us in the little ways you are noticing as long as we are open to it.

    1. I don’t censor my feelings when I share here. I just let it flow. Because I feel so close to all of you.

  6. Brenda when family passes from our lives we often fail to bring up memories of them to the person who is grieving. I was guilty of not speaking openly of my younger cousin who died of a cardiac arrest to my aunt. One day she began talking of her daughter and began to cry; she wanted to know why no one spoke of her daughter that she missed so terribly. She said she ached to talk about her. I learned from her that we need to recall and discuss the sweet times,the bittersweet times, and their lives in general. It opened up an entirely new relationship to those who saw what she needed:to talk of her daughter,to hear others remember things about her, and to never forget who she was and what she meant to us. It is the same for you. Remember Abi, talk of her and soon hopefully you will be able to remember her without the tears and be encouraged for the time you had her. Love her…love her memory. Talk or write what is in your heart or on your mind…just continue to write. You calm my day, you write fluidly adding joy as we visit on your patio. God bless you.

    1. I think people believe that bringing up a lost loved one will upset those closest to them. When really, the opposite is true. Not to speak of them is like they never existed.

  7. You are a wonderful writer, open and honest. You are getting your emotions out through your writing, and it might also be helping those of us who have suffered loss, to feel okay to talk about it.

    Nature is fleeting. I think of my mom often when I see a butterfly or cardinal. Like my wonderful, warm memories of her, just fleeting now, because as life goes on, the pain is replaced with sweet memories and more loves.

    Take care, my friend.

    Jane

  8. I believe the fire fly was Abi checking on you. And your writing is why I have been visiting you here for years, honest telling of life at your cozy house. Hugs for you and Charlie

  9. Brenda, your posts and all the feelings you express are very welcome and appreciated by me and many others who read your blog. No need to censor yourself at all. Your candor and honesty are what make your posts so wonderful. It’s been about three months since I helped my beloved Labradoodle, Tavi, “cross the Rainbow Bridge.” Sometimes I can hardly stand not having him and I don’t know when it will become less painful. But, like with you and your loss of Abi, It doesn’t matter how long. All in good time. I accept that and try to just roll with it as the tears and grief come and go.

    Pleas keep writing your tho’ts and feelings. They are appreciated very much and helpful to many of us who are going through similar times in our own lives.

    1. It is my hope that we help one another. We all go through similar things in life. It’s nice to be able to share it with each other. The burden seems lighter.

  10. Please don’t stop writing about Abi and how you are dealing with her loss. We can all learn from your insightful words. The pictures of your plants and flowers are beautiful and so very special, I do not tire of looking at them.
    I read something the other day, it said that “At some point in your childhood, you and your friends went outside to play together for the last time and nobody knew it” Made me realize how important even the smallest moments can be.

  11. No need to appologize for sharing your feelings…the words help you heal. Hugs to you and Charlie.

  12. Brenda, I wholeheartedly believe God knows when we need just a bit of reassurance that our loved ones are ok. He loves us enough to let us see these, seemingly, random glimpses just at the right time. Like He’s telling us, “It is ok to move on. I have your precious baby in my arms.”. God cares about everything that is important to us…even our furbabies. I have been praying for you and Charlie. I thank God for sending this precious, tiny, lightening bug to you!

    Grace & Peace,
    Pam

  13. the thought of little Charlie allowing himself to be softly brushed…
    that brings joy to my heart! how happy he is just being near his mom.
    feeling joy in small things yet still allowing those moments of sorrow.
    we never tire of your words.

    1. He won’t get up right against my body. But I’m trying to encourage him to get closer and closer. When I would brush both Abi and Charlie, they would kind of fight over who got to be brushed. Now I slowly brush him and he seems so content.

  14. Brenda,
    I’m not much of a commenter, but I want to let you know how much I love reading your posts (and I’m not a “reader”)! They are so easy to read, poignant and heartfelt. You have a wonderful gift. Your words flow so beautifully. Thank you for sharing your gift with all of us.

    1. Oh, I’m so happy you enjoy the posts I write. You don’t have to comment. It’s certainly not mandatory!

  15. A beautiful post with beautiful photos. I love reading your posts (happy, sad, informative, comtemplative, etc). Your words are from the heart and soul and allow us not only to share your space but to examine our own space (both physical and mental). Thank you.

    1. I want my readers to feel like they’re sitting on my patio drinking coffee or tea and we’re chatting.

  16. Turn around and blink, there are angels all around you. There are miracles that happen everyday that we don’t recognize. God’s love for us all is endless.

  17. I haven’t check your blog (or any others) for a long time…I began teaching again (at 65 – can you believe it?) to grow my retirement fund. I am enjoying it though – I am at the same school my daughter teaches at and where her daughters (my only granddaughters ages 6 12 and 8) attend school. I barely have time once I get home to do all the internet browsing I used to, so I did not know your Abi passed. I am so sorry, so very sorry. We are grieving the loss of our ‘child’, Dexter Lee, our 14 1/2 year old Dachshund. We had to let him go to sleep two weeks tomorrow. The earth stood still, time stopped and our hearts broke at 8:25 that day. His brother, Toby Blyn (also a Dachshund) misses him so – his eating habits have changed, he goes through the house looking for him, and he sits at the doorway looking into the entry hall at the front door. He whines a lot – we shower him with extra attention and baby him more.
    Letting them go is a horribly hard thing to do – but he was ready – his little skeletal system and his little body had just given out and it was his strong will (and our fantastic Veterinarian) who kept him going as long as it did.

    We cherish all the 14 1/2 years we had with him (we picked him out at 2 weeks of age and brought him home at 6 weeks of age). I know your precious memories will give you strength also…and your Charlie. Thinking of you! Laura in Lubbock

  18. Beautifully written, Brenda. I look for signs from my husband who passed in January. You are so right about being fine one minute and in tears the next. Anything and nothing can trigger tears.
    Your garden is just wonderful, such a solace for you and Charlie. I love that he enjoys the brushing routine. Interestingly, my Max, a tabby cat, who never wanted to be brushed, has in these last few months, grown to love it. We all take comfort where we can. Keep writing, please.
    Mary

  19. You heal in your own time and in your own way. I believe Abi wanted to let you know she is okay and she loves you and wants you to be happy. Writing is a wonderful way of healing

  20. Oh how I love reading your posts. Your words flow so gently on the page for me. Maybe it’s time you do write a book on the grief of losing a pet. Your story of losing Abi.

    1. I’ve always written through emotions. As a child I could not voice what I was feeling. And back then, I don’t think anyone wanted to listen anyway. So writing things down does help me.

  21. Please don’t stop writing about your dear Abi and how you are dealing with her being gone.
    I just took a road trip to see relatives who live in Oregon and Washington. My dog Romeo loved these car trips and always had a great time. At my daughter’s house in Salem, she casually took a toy that had been Romeo’s and gave it to my other daughter’s dog, which was ok but was just a bit sad for me.
    Also while I was at my middle daughter’s home in WA state, I went to close the bedroom door the first night, and I found myself getting ready to call for Romeo before remembering he was no longer here.
    As I walked around her property, (she lives in the country) I kept remembering how much Romeo loved roaming the property with my daughter’s dogs. We always lived in apartments and he was usually walked on a leash, so this sort of thing was a huge treat. I don’t think I will ever quit crying and missing him.

    It has been almost 2 years now and I still cry over losing him.

    1. Have you considered getting another pet? It sure won’t be your precious Romeo, but it could provide you company and love.

  22. Dear Brenda,

    There is no time limit on grief. The tears are good for you..

    God Bless you and Charlie.

    1. I know. But I just don’t want readers to tire of my sadness. I have to write what I feel each day. It’s the only way I know how to process it all.

  23. Your garden is soooooo beautiful. Since I do not have one, I just wanted to say thank you for sharing yours. I look forward to the pictures of it every day. They bring me peace even through the computer.

    1. I always worry that my outdoor photos could become boring. But I so love to take them! I’m happy to share my patio space with you.

  24. When my sweet little puppy left us I remember thinking this…
    Worth it.
    Every dog hair I vacuumed,
    Every doodle I scooped,
    Every snack I shared,
    Every toy I tripped over,
    Every midnight outing for doggie issues,
    Every penny spent,
    Every tear I shed……
    WORTH IT!
    Blessings to you!
    Minnie

  25. I was going to tell you a little story the other day but decided not to; it was that some months after my mom died I was working in my garden and a blue butterfly landed right next to me on the ground. Without thinking I said aloud “Mom.” I smiled; it was the color of her eyes. She came to see me. Like a lightening bug.

    1. Oh, I’m so glad you shared that with me. It helps me to know that I’m certainly not alone in my grief.

  26. You’re too hard on yourself, Brenda. It’s only been a few week since Abi passed away. I can come to tears thinking about my dearly departed much loved pets, the last one of whom died in 2004, and I think about them often. Each of us works through these trials, tribulations and the pain in our own way. Give yourself time, don’t be so impatient with yourself, please! I love it when firefly season comes to my area. It is sad, though, when the days tick by and then it is September and the little flying bugs with the big lights disappear, one by one, until one night all you see is one light blinking in a shrub, and there are no return flashes of light. Some years back, a dear friend of mine who lives in Las Vegas, NV and her then young teenaged daughter would visit me for 2 weeks or so every summer. They loved the SE WI summers and all the grass that didn’t have to be kept artificially alive, and all the green – everywhere! We were sitting on the deck at sundown one evening that first summer they visited and the fireflies started flashing amidst the shrubs, garden beds and trees, seeming to rise out of the Earth in gentle waves! She jumped up and said WHAT IS THAT? I said it’s fireflies. She had never seen one. They don’t have fireflies in Las Vegas, too dry I guess. After that, she couldn’t get enough of the fireflies. They seemed magical to her. And so they are. I make wishes on them, like some people wish upon the first star they see in the night sky, “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight…” And every year, like clockwork, the fireflies come back.

  27. As time passes, you will find you smile more than you cry when you think of Abi. She was such a sweet gift.
    I love to see “Gardening Charlie” trimming (well..eating) that plant.

    1. Some days I feel much better. Then I plummet. I try hard to hide this from Charlie. Yes, he is my garden trimmer.

  28. How beautifully said on all points. You are so right. I will remember, also, what you wrote about tears, and it will help me. Lot of tears in our home right no w, too. Maybe a new normal ciming..

  29. She is there, blinking at you. She will come to get you when it’s your time to go. But, for now, she watches over you and Charlie.

  30. Brenda, I love the lightening bug story! How wonderful to see it as Abi coming to visit. I do the same every time I see a cardinal. I speak to the cardinal and call it Munchen the name of my late girl. And its strange but it is sometimes like it can hear me because it will hop closer and look at me as if to tell me it is her.

    We are here for you and love to see what you and Charlie and the garden are up too.

    Have a good day, cherish all of the little moments.

    1. When I lost a dear friend in 2006, I remember I found a garden cardinal and placed it in my garden. For me it was her. She loved red cars and often drove one. It was my thought that we watched over one another. I would go to my garden and talk to her. It is my spiritual way to grieve.

  31. I read and learn something every time I read what you have shared each day and there are definitely moments of enlightenment that help me through my grief for Lucy. Give and take, we all stand by each other in one way or another. I’m happy to listen and support. Thanks to you, too.

    1. I’m so hoping we can help one another through these difficult times. Sharing is a golden opportunity to accept what is, knowing we are not alone.