This morning I am trying hard not to throw myself a little pity party, complete with doting guests and a big, fat slice of succulent chocolate cake. Last night, not so much. Chris and I had a nice dinner at a new Indian restaurant and he held my hand and listened to me whine.
Thus, this morning I am feeling better but reflecting on the nature of love and loss. I won’t go into details of the profound or superficial losses that are accumulating in my heart as I’m not indulging that pity party anymore. But rather, I’m somewhat comforted by the fact that I have something to lose.
I think dogs are a perfect example of having something to lose. You know from an earlier post that I lost my beloved little dog last month. I’m fortunate to have two other dogs to blunt the sting of that loss, and some day, when the time is right, we’ll get another dog. We tried to have multiple dogs separated in age, so that we wouldn’t lose them all at once. The two remaining dogs are also getting up there in years as well, and since Max was supposed to be the dog that lived the longest, we may well lose them all within a short period of time after all. I bring this up just to point out that the choice to bring a dog into our home is a choice to have the inevitable heartbreak of loss, 10-15 years later. It’s a choice I will make over and over again until I’m too old and feeble to care for a dog.
But it’s not just dogs for whom we are inevitably choosing heartbreak. It’s everything and everyone we choose to put time, energy, and love into. I made that choice when I chose to love a friend who is 70 years old with a chronic illness. We made that choice when we bought a house, fixed it to our liking and within it, raised our children. We made that choice when we chose a career, because it will eventually end in retirement. We made that choice when we get married, because regardless of whether it’s due to divorce or death, there will be a separation in the end. We made that choice when we even chose to have children, because if you do your job right, they’ll eventually leave home and be successful and independent. Likewise when we are born into the world with family members or good health, for we will eventually also part with each someday. I make that choice every time I choose to teach, mentor or tutor a student. In short, everything in our lives is as impermanent as the snow that fell while we slept last night.
Recently I was talking with a friend about her recent divorce and how she’s afraid to get hurt again. She was married to a particularly schmucky schmuck so that feeling (and all feelings for that matter) are entirely understandable. But to love is a choice to make yourself vulnerable. To choose life without love is not an option. So life, love and vulnerability, loss, and pain are one and the same. And I will gladly choose the joy of love, and the inevitable pain of loss, every time.