Oh, How We Love Them

It is sunny this morning. We had a freeze last night, so the patio plants are looking beleaguered. I kind of feel the same way this morning. My joints hurt due to the cold. My hands feel like someone stepped on them.

I can’t find my newest wrist brace I bought last Sunday. They wear out fairly quickly if you wear them a lot.

I’ve looked everywhere. I don’t know if Ivy dragged it off somewhere or what.

Kitchen table vignette

Seems we didn’t have much of a fall. The leaves are just now starting to fall to the ground. It has been this way the past few years. I love fall and wish there was more time to enjoy it.

I used to look forward to decorating for fall. Now I put some gourds in a dough bowl and call it good.

I would much rather enjoy what I see outside my door. The leaves turning. The light shifting as it shapes itself into another season.

Ivy on her back

I think Ivy must be the most immodest creature I’ve ever seen. She loves to lay on her back. Right now she’s scooting a toy around the floor. I think it might be the pumpkin stem.

Wherever it was she found it again. So it’s back in her top two of toys. That and the curtain tie back.

Charlie is coughing some this morning. Of course I gave him his medicine as soon as I got up. Maybe it’s the cold.

Charlie on the couch arm

He’s my sturdy little soldier. Never far from my side. Always loving and loyal. I know I won’t have him forever and that thought brings tears to my eyes and fear to my being.

Six months ago today I lost my sweet Abi girl. I told myself I wouldn’t mention her today. But it seems I cannot hold that promise to myself.

I still haven’t brought her ashes out of the drawer. I can’t bring myself to look at that little box. Such a tiny box to hold what was a living breathing bundle of energy. And I don’t know if the ashes will still affect Charlie as they did when I first brought them home.

But…I wouldn’t give up the time I get to love them and have them love me for anything. Would you?

“Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.”
Kahlil Gibran

Every time Charlie starts coughing, I cringe, I ache. I wonder if it hurts, if he’s afraid. I know I am. I know every time he struggles to get his breath I am holding my own.

What is it about love that holds us hostage? That weaves its way into every part of us and sets us glowing while we hold it close. But then when the one we love is taken away, the lights go out.

For a long time the lights just go out and we sit in the cold dank dark cellar shivering, waiting to come alive again.

Tree at the park

I guess I’m lucky in some ways. I’ve never had many people in my life. I’ll probably go to my grave never seeing my siblings. I’ll never know my parents. I never felt their love.

But my children are long grown and my pets are my babies. I think I have grieved for Abi more than I’ve ever grieved before.

I come out of that dark cold cellar for longer periods now. I stand in the sunlight. I can feel the warmth of it on my face.

I can smile and laugh now.

But then I look at Abi’s photo and still I fall apart. I wonder if there will come a time when I can see her photo and not cry?

Ivy on the floor

Make no mistake. I love Ivy Lou. But you can’t replace one love for another. The filling of your heart with love for one does not take away the aching grief for another.

There are times when I just need to write about Abi, remember Abi, pay homage to her. She was my baby girl and she’ll always and forever be my baby girl.

And what kind of person would I be if I willingly let the memory of her slip away into the ether?

I know some people hold themselves stiff and stoic, resisting the grief. But all they’re doing is prolonging the pain.

Grief is normal. It lasts as long as it lasts.

You can no more hold grief at arm’s length than you can fly to the moon. So you might as well stop trying to be “strong” and holding yourself taut trying to stave it away.

You show strength by letting your feelings out. Not holding them in.

Table centerpiece

Some of you write to me about your grief. I welcome your words.

We need to help one another when the going gets tough. We need to be there for our sister when she is feeling down and for a time slipping, slipping down that hole.

Remember I am here, merely an email away, if you need to share as I’m sharing with you.

“I used to think that I could never lose anyone if I photographed them enough. In fact, my pictures show me how much I’ve lost.”
Nan Goldin


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  1. Sometimes we all need to let it all out, which I have a hard time doing. I keep a lot of my feelings to myself. I am glad you were able to not hold back. You made me feel better just reading your blog, even though it made me cry.
    I also have 2 little boxes but they are on a shelf where I can see them every day. I have a tiny Schnauzer Angel ornament that sits on the boxes. I talk to them every day. I miss them everyday.
    Praying that Charlie gets over his cough soon.

    Marilynn and Haley

  2. This is such a beautiful post I needed to hear all of this today .
    You always speak to my heart !
    Thank you !

  3. Brenda, I’m sitting here crying after reading this post, but that’s OK – I need to cry. I’m not naturally a crier…it’s hard for me to do so. But after reading this post and going through what I am right now with Zippo, it really hit me. Plus, I’m also stressed out and overly-emotional right now from Tim moving out yesterday. Don’t get me wrong – it was a good thing for all of us – he’s almost 28 and time for him to move on in his own place and with his own life. But he was born here and lived here his entire life (except for a three years away at school). The house feels so empty and I hate seeing his empty bedroom. Thank you for saying you are here for me (and everyone else) with Zippo being so sick now. I know he doesn’t have much time left and my heart is breaking.

    I am so sorry that Charlie isn’t doing well either. I think I’ve told you that my mom’s little dog, a Pomeranian, is also around Charlie’s age and she has a collapsed trachea. I’m not sure what kind of meds she’s on, but I know that she also sees a holistic doctor and is also on some holistic drops which really help. And she’s had to have emergency breathing treatments in the past. My mom has to hand feed her little teaspoons of food at a time, otherwise she chokes. It’s so sad.

    I agree on getting rid of the scented products in your home, especially with Charlie’s breathing problems. Fabric softener of any kind is very toxic. I haven’t used it in many years. I sometimes put vinegar in my rinse water and I also use those felted wool balls in the dryer. They only help a little bit, but that’s ok. If my laundry has some static in it, so be it.

  4. Brenda, I’m glad that I happened upon your blog while Abi was still alive–happy that I got to know something of her personality and quirks. She was a unique little person and I miss your tales of her doings.

    While I read your words about grief I was put in touch with my own. I function pretty normally most of the time with short intervals of tho’ts of how I miss Tavi. But the other night in bed waiting for sleep my mind went to tho’ts of the grief I’ve experienced and I recounted all the things, people, pets I have grieved over during my whole life. Losses that I don’t think about very much and others that are closer to my consciousness. And I felt absolutely filled to the brim with feelings of grief and loss. The amount of grief that came up felt overwhelming. I have never experienced that so clearly before. The tho’ts ranged from our family dog when I was young and how we never showed her much love or affection–mostly out of ignorance–to the loss of my daddy when I was 8, to my still-born baby boy and later to my marriage, and more, on and on to my recent loss of my Tavi dog. And I wondered how a life could survive so much loss and experience so much grief and a person still function. Yet, I know I’m not unique. Sometimes I think we go on because we don’t allow ourselves to feel the loss and grief except minimally at the time. And then we wonder why we become ill or depressed. I think it’s all connected. But, I know I resist mightily allowing myself to experience sufficiently all that grief. I fear never coming out of it, perhaps.

    I didn’t mean for this comment to be a downer, but just wanted to share the unbidden experience and the scope of personal grief, regret and sadness that I carry in my life. I think it may be the same for many of us. Perhaps the darkness and cold of Winter somehow encourages the introspection that brings those tho’ts to the surface. I remind myself that allowing my awareness of them is healing and that I can handle them rising into my consciousness. But sometimes I’m scared of them and just want them to go away.

    Well, I have probably gone on too long. So, I’ll just end with wishes for a happy day for you and the four-leggeds tomorrow and a good start to another week. Stay warm! And thanks for sharing your tho’ts about living with grief in this post.

  5. Congratulations on your Ivy. I am happy you have found some light in the horrible dark tunnel of loss. My daughter brought home a kitty too and he is lovely even though he steals my crochet squares.

    Yes, I too have never grieved more Brenda and figure I must be in some kind of complicated grief by now but I don’t worry about that and not one iota do I.

    Yes, change it …never Brenda and absolutely not. Funny it is when you experience such hell on earth that has been full of the deepest darkest most sorrowful night of the soul you have ever known … you yet say …never would I change it …

    My little Yorkie, my sweet one, he had trachea/coughing issues too. It’s good to remove all chemicals Brenda as suggested to you. I know how hard it is to hear that cough but at least you can medicate for him and that is good. I couldn’t for my boy as no medication worked.

    God bless you both … oops … three now!

  6. So honest and heartfelt post Brenda. I think it is good that you write about your grief. That is a very positive part of grief. To express your feeling and not hide them. I am sure there will come a day when you do not burst into tears thinking about Abi but that will take time. Time is the hardest part of grief. There is no set time everyone is different in how they handle great loss. Hugs to you today.

  7. I’m so very sorry for your loss. I just lost my best friend this past Thursday . Wiggles was my four year old Yorkie who passed away unexpectedly . He went with me every where. Even though he only weighed two pounds he was such a huge presence in our lives. I’m having a very difficult time with it . I’m really trying to stay positive and remembering him by talking about his funny antics , which make us laugh. Is it possible to laugh through tears?

  8. The ability to feel love for another being (human or animal) is a wonderful and powerful thing. There are people out there in the world who never feel love at all. They appear at times to think they are “superior” somehow, but actually, I find this type of person not a true human being. The capacity to love, and to be loved, and to grieve when we lose love is the very essence of being a divine creation. For those who cannot feel these things and sneer at others who do as somehow being a “weakness,” I feel pity. When my Spencer dog died in 1999, I buried his ashes in their canister under a birdbath in my backyard. But I ended up selling that house and moving in July 2014 when I downsized in preparation for retiring in January 2015. So, I decided not to bury the ashes of my other two dogs, Spencer and Tasha. They are safely tucked away in a credenza. One of my sisters loved her dogs so much she’s going to have their ashes buried with her inside her coffin when that time comes. I decided that’s what I’m going to do, too. I’m sorry now I didn’t keep Spencer’s canister of ashes, but I know he has become a part of the thriving tree grove in that backyard I left behind, a place he loved to go and sniff for squirrels and rabbits in his heyday.

  9. What a heartfelt post today. My emotions were all over the place as I read your words — sad because I know how much you miss your Abi, anxious about Charlie’s cough, happy that Ivy has brought so much joy not only to you but to your readers, and thankful that you have shared your world with us. I look forward to hearing from you each day.

    Hope you have a restful weekend.

  10. I love my Lily a lot, but as you said, one pet does not take the place of another beloved one. I still think of my Romeo all the time, and I think it is good that Lily is nothing like Romeo in personality, but she is a sweet and loving dog and she comforts me.

    I also know the fear you have when Charlie coughs, I went through that with Romeo, wondering if he would get his breath again, worrying if I would wake up in the morning and he would have passed during the night. It is really terrible when our babies get old and have health issues. Tell Charlie you love him and give him a lot of pets and attention, that is all you can do.

  11. Even though grieving is hard Brenda and it sucks, it’s alot better to cry than hold it inside of you.
    A friend’s Mom use to hold back her tears and always ended up getting sick after that!

    So if you need to cry, than do so cuz it actually does help you!

    It’s cold and windy here today. Brrrrr!

  12. My husband and I talk a lot about the two cats we had who passed away, one in fall 2017 and his sister in summer 2018. We had them both over 15 years, and you can’t just forget that amount of time with a pet. Same with you and Abi — she was such a big part of your life. Thanks for offering a place on your blog where people can share their love of their pets, even after they are gone.

  13. I don’t often comment, Brenda, but I do read all your posts and I’m thrilled that Ivy is in your life and vice versa. Even though we’ve had Sadie for about a year and a half, we still miss our sweet Molly so much. We’ve kept her ashes on top of our dining room hutch from the first day we brought it home. Just keep embracing each day you have with your furbabies, especially with aging Charlie. Hugs!

  14. I had the most beautiful, loving Welsh Corgi that God could have ever given me . He protected me and laid by my side the whole time I had cancer. He knew when I was worse and would go get my husband. I owe my life to him in so many ways. It has been 15 years and I still cannot look at his pictures without crying. He was my soul mate. He passed from the same cancer I had. I know he is with God and that helps.

  15. We had just bought land to build a house when my cat Sam died. I saved his ashes with the intention of burying them at the new house and planting a tree or shrub in remembrance of him. But it just never felt right to do that, and his little box is still in a drawer fifteen years later. When our cat Woody died two years ago, I just added his little box to the drawer as well. It’s somehow comforting to have them there.

  16. Brenda,

    I’m glad you speak of Abi today. She deserves to be honored and spoke of and you deserve to speak about her. It’s hard though. I know.


    1. I want to honor her. I lost a pet baby that I spent 24 hours a day with. Losing that companionship is beyond comprehension for me. It takes awhile to realize just how much you’ve lost.

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