Sunday, January 19, 2014
Condolences are nice. What comes after?
Sounds pretty harsh, not warm and fuzzy like I'd prefer. That pretty much sums up my whole life, not just my post widowhood life. But a beautiful and frankly unusual thing happened yesterday. I just lost my cat to cancer. Somebody stepped in and asked if I was doing O.K. following the death of my cat. "Did you have an O.K. day today?" he asked. WOW. Sometimes somebody comes alongside to help when you're hurting.
I didn't grow up experiencing the comfort of compassion. I finally learned how compassion feels from God, and a host of other caring people, including my late husband. My true healing from widowhood's grief came when I began to access the sweet compassion in my own heart. I still use these words "You're welcome, [my name]" as my mantra. I just learned there's a term for it : Self-compassion. Wow, there's a book written about everything, isn't there? Evidently self compassion is what I've been practicing. It's working! As I welcome myself without conditions or restrictions, I find compassion toward myself growing. I find other people able to give compassion. I no longer go back to the dry well asking for water from people unable to give.
Here's my answer to my friend's question. For me, as important as Nip was, I knew from the beginning that I'd have maybe ten years of his furry company, since he was four years old when I adopted him from a pet shelter. I had eight wonderful years. I don't feel robbed of a future with him. I feel grateful for the unconditional love we shared. That I can't share my love for him now brings tears. If I come to the point where I need more unconditional love, I'll adopt another pet. But for now it's much more fun to interact with human beings, you all here, and friends in the flesh.
I wish more people were touchy feely. Part of that is my fault, because I'm not one to wear my heart on my sleeve. But I'm meeting more touchy feely people in this world, like the sweet veterinarian who wept alongside me as we put my cat to sleep. And you, who offered condolences. And the person who asked me afterwards if I'm doing O.K. Goodness, am I fortunate! You continue to teach me something. That is, that giving and receiving emotional support, a component of love, leaves a rich legacy of strength, dignity and peace long after its warm embrace cools.