This time of year, when the mornings begin to feel more crisp and cool with a touch of dampness to them, I mourn for the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. I mourn for my heart’s unfulfilled desire to pick up and move to a new place.
This year, August was a time to mourn. We put down our rescue pup of three years who had been in my partner and my life for less than five months after a month of trying to save him from an acute stage three Erhlichiosis. It was a too late when his body began showing distinct signs of the disease, but we tried to save him anyway. I wouldn’t change a thing, save that if I could go back and do it again I would make myself clairvoyant so that we could have discovered before it was too late that he had a tick-borne disease.
Even though we have brought home a new puppy, I still cry for my wolf dog every day. My heart feels tempered by the fullness of caring for new life, yet I cannot help but think about the strange juxtapositioning of losing life in order to bring another into our lives. The exchange of life and death is a give and take that has gone one for millions of years. Knowing this truth does not change the fresh bitterness I feel when it touches my own life so very acutely. It is like an injury, quick to occur and slow to heal, tender to the touch for a long time.
I have always been sensitive, and I was tender before the month of August. This year has been yet another in a series of years of transition, unexpected changes in plans, and personal transformation.
Not two weeks after we put Okami down, I arrived home from a quick swim and visit to the college where my sweetie works to find that our home had been broken into.
To be honest, I did not notice right away. I gave puppy her lunch, took her out to potty, and made my own lunch before sitting down to work on my computer and finding it missing.
Assuming I had put it somewhere and forgotten, I began searching around the house for it. It was in my search that I began noticing that small things were different. The window behind the couch was closed.
That’s odd. I never close that window, I thought to myself.
The speaker that generally sat on the windowsill had fallen into the couch cushion. Was it the work of a cat? But a cat could not have closed the window.
It slowly dawned on me that someone might have come into our home and taken my computer.
I began walking around the house and noticed the door to the music and yoga room slightly ajar. I walked in and saw a drawer to a small dresser was also left pulled out a little bit. I opened the drawer fully and could not believe my eyes. Nearly all of the jewelry that had been in the drawer—pieces from my grandmother, gifts from my mother, several rings and earrings—were gone.
I stood there and stared, disbelieving. It was such a strange feeling to know what had been there only an hour and a half earlier and to see it gone.
I called my partner, the police, and my parents. My partner drove home, and together we wandered around the house, looking for what might be missing, and waited for a policeman to arrive.
My car was broken into when I first moved to Lowell, Massachusetts several years ago. I remember walking up to the car and moving to open the door when I realized the window was entirely gone.
I had just stood there, again disbelieving. How could the window be gone? The fact that someone had broken in did not occur to me until I saw that everything inside the car had been taken. I remember sitting down in the driver’s seat and weeping. I had felt so shocked and hurt that someone would do such a thing.
In this instance, I initially felt more shock than sorrow. I was so thankful that I had taken the puppy with me and that no harm had come to any two or four-legged beloveds in my life.
The sorrow came later. As with my recent experience of loss, it did not seem real. Even after I buried Okami, I continued to imagine that I could dig him back up and he would return to me, full of the life and love he had bestowed upon me for the precious little time we had spent together.
With each realization of another personal belonging gone missing from the break-in, I felt a wave of emptiness and sadness. I quickly told myself, It’s only stuff. It doesn’t matter. But I still felt sadness over the ring my grandmother who i had never met had gifted to my mother when she was a teenager and that my mother had gifted to me when I was the same age. I had worn it every day without taking it off since I was sixteen. It was only a month ago that I had taken it off for the first time in a brief respite from wearing any jewelry on my fingers.
What did it mean that I had taken it off and it was now gone?
I kept searching the room where it had been to see if maybe the thieves had dropped it. It was so very small. Surely there were very few pinkies out there that it would fit upon beyond my own tiny finger.
I knew that it could not be worth very much momentarily for any thief who would take it to sell. It’s worth was stored in my own heart and the connection it brought me to two generations of women from my family.
Each piece of jewelry I own comes with its own story. There was the delicate, silver band with a round, flat top that held the image of a bird and a flower that my father had gifted to me for my birthday last summer. This ring I had worn without taking off until only the month before as well.
What did it mean that it was gone? And why?
As with the loss of my wolf pup, the loss of my belongings brought out incredible love and kindness from people around the world. Dozens of friends sent kind and loving messages of support. It is remarkable how the darkest elements of life can bring out the lightest. The yin with the yang, I suppose.
Such is life. I continue to move forward with the hope of one, knowing full well the possibility of the other.
With the loss of one beloved, I invite in a new, knowing full well that heartbreak will inevitably someday follow.
I love with all of my being, in spite of or perhaps because of the precious transience of life.
With loss comes perspective and the chance to gain new appreciation for all that is beautiful in my life. There is an opportunity for gratitude for all that I have in the wake of the disappointment of all that I have lost.
I can feel my heart begin to restore itself and fill once more with love. I can feel the strength in my body as I literally and figuratively move forward, each step a new connection to the earth, an embracing of the present, and an acceptance of whatever future may be.
Change is the only constant, some may say. I think that love should be added to the list.