Three Words – Not Those Words!

Acceptance, Courage, Wisdom

I’m writing this on Mother’s Day.  Missing my mother more each year as I realize all she went through while alive and how I didn’t understand her while I was growing up.  And reminded that “mothers” come in different packages:  single moms, dads who have become moms, same sex partners, broken family moms, abused moms and even fur baby moms.  I’m in the latter category as mom for three female dogs.

And here’s where this story begins.  I’ve rescued three dogs these last two years.  The first two are sisters, Miley and Casey.  Casey is hearing impaired or deaf.  They’re four years old now but I rescued them at three.  They’ve always had each other as they moved from household to household.  And of course Casey looked to Miley for everything – her actions, knowing what was going on around her and even when to go outdoors.

It was love at first sight when I went to look for a dog.  I went looking for a dog eight months after I had lost Martin, my husband, to suicide.  It took that long for me to find some semblance of being able to take care of myself.  That’s when I felt I’d likely be okay to take care of a dog who needed me.  I found instead of one dog, a package deal.  Their whole lives until then, they’d been together.  How could I split them up?  It was a package deal and I brought them both home.  A year later I realized how happy they’d made me.

While viewing photos of dogs from a Rescue site, this one girl tugged at my heart.  Mabel was in urgent need of a foster home.  She was very heartworm positive and that concerned me.  But I couldn’t help the overwhelming feeling I had that I needed to take her in, at least for a little while.  And so it was Mabel came to live with us as our foster.  She too had moved from household to foster household for various reasons.

That was five months ago and today we’ve adopted Mabel.  She is now heartworm FREE.  The vet and assistant were amazed and I was thrilled.  Funny thing is after the heartworm test, Mabel began acting “happy” and had a smile on her face.  We arrived home and she was jumping around and playing with Miley and Casey.  In her heart, she knew and it was her way of telling her soon to be sisters.

Which brings me to present day.  Today at the end of a favorite movie of mine, The Notebook, I lost it   and cried uncontrollably.  Not for my mother, oh no, these were tears for my late husband.  It felt as bad as when the tragedy first occurred.   I began grappling with my feelings and asking why?  Why had Martin hurt me this way?  Why did God allow this pain to consume me still?  I realized how silly it felt and yet I couldn’t stop myself.  I had come so far in forgiving Martin.  And I had learned from therapists and support groups that you don’t ever get over a tragedy like this.  You just learn to live through it.  It has been two years now and I should be living through it so what’s up with the uncontrollable feelings I now had and the tears and wailing?

While Miley and Mabel were laying at my feet, my little baby Casey climbed into my lap.  She stared at me as tears flooded my eyes and streamed down my face.  She began to kiss me with constant loving licks.  She couldn’t hear me crying – she’s deaf.  Instead, she felt my feelings and was trying to console me.  And she wouldn’t stop for as long as I was crying.

It took a while, but I was consciously able to think through my feelings and the tears began to stop.  That and her kisses did much to ease my heartache.  It was like coming out of a small meditation and I could grip reality.  Casey had fallen asleep in my arms and I recognized that my heartbeat had finally slowed down to fairly normal speed.

Something important washed over me at this time.  A while back I acknowledged that I’ll never get over the tragic death of Martin but I’m going to live through it.  But had I … and these thoughts brought to mind The Serenity Prayer.

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

The ability to live through something awful means acceptance.  The acceptance that this tragedy had nothing to do with me and that nothing I could have done would have prevented him from doing what he felt he must to stop the pain.

We find acceptance through learning to seek love and happiness in different other ways.  For me, my furry girls love me and I’m so in love with each of them and for different reasons.  They’re different and seem to provide me with something special in their own ways and collectively for the things dogs are famous at – compassion, forgiveness, undying love.  Isn’t that what we all want and need?

Which brings me to the wisdom part of the Prayer.  To be able forgive ourselves when we seem to falter and to love ourselves when we don’t feel loveable is to collectively take all we’ve learned and apply it.  We only need to understand that we can make ourselves happy or happier by learning what makes us happy and applying it to our life.

For me right now, my girls are everything.  Happiness abounds whenever I’m around them.  There are other things which create happiness for me also.  And I’m learning more about those things hoping I can implement them into my little part of the world around me.

I’m learning to live one day at a time and enjoy each moment.  I’m trying to accept hardship as a path I need to take.  Winston Churchill once said, “If you think you’re going through Hell, keep on going!”  He was right.  There is light at that tunnel’s end and peace and happiness too.  Sometimes all we need do is to trust in ourselves.

Three’s Company … Also a Family

There’s a saying, “Who Rescued Who” referring to saving or adopting a pet which in my case are dogs. I wrote last April about my two white boxers in “We Are Family — My Dogs and Me!” Extra extra … now there is another dog saved. Or was I the one saved, again?

As I learn about dancing in the rain, May 4th is a reminder of the terrible tragedy that I encountered in 2010 – the horrible suicide of my husband. So tomorrow is the 2nd anniversary of that awful day. Sad, yes…angry still, can’t help but be a bit. However, this year I made a firm decision as to May 4th. Going forward, I wanted it to be not just a memory of sadness and grief. Oh no, I want to show progress and I need to find positive reasons for progressing with my life. This year on May 4th, I’m officially adopting my foster dog, Mabel.

I’ve learned quite a few lessons in two years’ time, about myself and my life, and about others around me. Your real friends will always be there for you no matter what you go through. The others … well, they were really only acquaintances anyway.  And what is family these days?  It’s very different than it once was in our parents’ era.  Broken homes, single parents, blended families – you name it.  It’s not homogeneous and uniform; it’s heterogeneous and different.  That is America today.  And I believe family is what and who you make it.  In my life, my little family is made up of three wonderful creatures who love me unconditionally.  They are always there for me, just like my real friends are.  And I couldn’t be happier with my family.  I wonder how many people feel this way.

And also I made some decisions.  I wanted to Speak Up about the tragedy to inform people about suicide, its statistics, and that there is help out there.  So many positives I felt could come about from such a dreadful situation.  And I’ve made further decisions, one important one is to make May 4th much more of a positive.

Now I had viewed many photos of dogs that need to be rescued.  But already having two, I had no feelings to have another.  When I saw Mabel’s photo and read about her, it all tugged at my heart.  She felt to me like some kindred spirit needing me.  Once I brought her home as my foster, she immediately made friends with my other two dogs, Miley and Casey, sisters.  Her timid demeanor, soft and gentle ways and she is the sweetest girl I’ve ever known.  Which leads me to the original quote above.  Who Saved Who here?  I think we saved each other.  What a wonderful way to help remember May 4th with new beginnings and a new life.

As I work from home now, the girls are here with me and seem to love it.  The Florida weather allows me to open the sliding doors to the living room and the girls go in and out, like little kids.  After playing outdoors for a while, they’ll trot inside for water and to check up on me.  Life is good!

So look into your hearts and see if maybe a pet needs your saving.  Or perhaps you could be helped a bit by “being saved” and becoming a family.