Over the weekend a notice popped up on my phone marking the anniversary of the day we had to put my beloved Yorki down. She was 16yrs old. That was a messy, blubbery few months of mourning. She was with me through many of the pivotal milestones of my life, single city life, marriage, kids, suburbia, and on.
It is still heartbreaking to think of her even though I have two new dogs and when they pass I will probably get more. I’m an animal person. No matter how many come and go that will never change. These heartbreaks we carry with us through life go miles toward shaping us. Sometimes I’m cynical and I sniff my nose up at nostalgia or sweetness even romanticism. I know ironic right?
I keep the walls high and the arms stiff because like everyone I’ve been hurt or taken advantage of or mocked. I don’t like it anymore than the next gal. My ego is fragile and I’m proud enough to not like anything that makes me the butt. It is no fun when you look around and realize they are laughing at you not with you. So I guard.
Here’s the clincher, parenthood has shifted this truth. I’ve seen my kids go through the same pitfalls and unforeseeable cliff drops of navigating human interaction. They are cursed with my open hearted guilelessness. I don’t say that to flatter us even though it sounds pretty flattering. It’s not. I guess it might be if you’re a character in a beautiful written literary work, a David Copperfield, if you will. It’s not out in the daily practice of life. If we were more calculating and exacting life would be much easier. Well, I know at least mine would have been so I have to assume theirs would too.
But I don’t want to raise cynics, angry, mean spirited people who take pleasure in wallowing in their shortcomings and failures and celebrating others’ shortcomings and failures. A troll if you will. No, I can’t be a party to that. But what I can do is take the things I know will be hard and train them to be on the look out, to know how to navigate these things the best that can be expected in what is ultimately a dynamic situation.
I have to train them to know you really haven’t proven anything if you’re not the person who will well up in tears over the loss of a beloved pet, even decades later. Look for those people.
They are your tribe.