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.

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2 comments on “Three Words – Not Those Words!

  1. Beautifully written, Joan, and it’s obvious so very heartfelt. Wonderful wisdom is coming to you in so many ways, so many forms (including your beloved girls). Keep going! Keep loving! Keep hoping! Keep moving forward! Baby steps, little girl, baby steps. They are the biggest steps of all ~

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