Love and Loss

I think about these a lot.

My dad – and Horace Walpole – used to say: “Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think.”

On one hand think-laugh, on the other feel-grieve.

dunno3 039

Bugsy right and left.

If only life, loss, were that simple.

I was running errands the other day when I came on the scene of an accident.  A young man on a motorcycle had rear-ended a car waiting to turn left, was thrown into the right-hand lane, was struck by another car, and died.

Police routed us drivers-by through a retirement complex.  Filing past old age on the one hand, and sudden early death on the other.

I spotted the young man’s naked arm, outstretched from under his shroud.  Pink and plump, palm up, fingers gently curved.  Suppliant to the heavens, on the cold dark pavement.

Might this not be enough to cause us pause in the running of errands?  To be silent for a moment of memento mori? To think, to feel, to do both?

Not us.

The on-line news-media carried a video showing the young man’s helmet and one shoe lying in the wreckage.

In the comment section, a person – I’ll assume she’s a woman – wrote about how she had held the young man’s hand as he died.  How she had clung to his helmet, as if that would help him hold onto life too.

Then she slid sideways into a rant about how the video had shown the helmet and one of the young man’s shoes lying in a different place from where she recalled them.  She wrote: “Was it necessary to embellish an already heart aching incident? How can the media justify doing this? I realize it’s a small thing, but to me there was no need to photograph this, when it is completely unreal and untrue.”

Whereupon internet trolls commenced to argue amongst themselves.  None of whom paused to consider that the first-responders, in trying to save a life, might have had to rearrange the scene a little.

A news-photographer commented that he “felt it his duty” to inform us that “ALL news photos are staged or posed.”  Another writer recalled losing a loved one to a car accident, grieved that the media never contacted the family, and concluded that the media are simply callous.  Another writer, oppositely, complained about the saturation coverage of another accident.  Another writer took issue with peoples’ “reading comprehension” of the first writer’s post.

A few sensitive souls begged to differ.  “Obviously the first commenter is experiencing trauma and people need to be gentle. We should be focused on the loss of life and those left behind to suffer.  Not debating whose reading comprehension needs work.”  “Arguing over shoe placement is stupid.”  “Why do you cruel people like to argue! The young man is dead, OK! This is not an argument about who’s right and wrong!”

Finally, weeks later, a letter was published from another witness.  This writer mourned the death of a stepdaughter who had been killed by a drunk driver.  But when the writer observed the care the first-responders lavished on the young man here, that person felt a healing.  “When I saw how he was protected not only physically but spiritually by our public servants, I am humbled.  I visualized these same people standing guard over my dear Margaret, when she could not stand for herself.”

So.  We are a complex species.

We feel when we can bear it and, when we can’t, we slide sideways into strife and irrelevancy.  Or into a pain that’s relevant to other matters, but not to the one at hand.

* * *

Yesterday we got buried in another huge ice-storm.  This morning, gazing out over a frigid spangled beauty, I grinned at Bongo, an ill-tempered little Schnauzer, as he scooted briskly along high on several inches of snow, never once breaking through the icy crust.  With my hand on Bugsy’s sun-warmed back, I thought about all this.

I remembered standing guard over my last cat Fang, as life left him.  I thought about how, for me, this enormous love I feel for my cats also marinates me in fear of loss, of grief.

icicle 006-cropBugsy apprehensive in the storm.

feathers2-001-crop Barney cool no matter what.

How uncomfortable this acute vulnerability makes me.  Please don’t tell me that the joy makes it all worthwhile.  I am also terrified.

* * *

I would like to be, with all this, like my dear friend in Michigan.  My friend has been a companion for many years to now-elder Ivy, a chocolate Lab.  Ivy is grappling with several illnesses.  My friend has exerted herself to the utmost in researching treatment options and possible prognoses.  She and Ivy are facing a great deal of uncertainty.

kim-ivy-kit-brushed2Ivy and her bud Stewie.  Art by heretherebespiders.

My friend says, purely and simply, that she wants to cherish every minute they have left together.  She tells me of trips to the lake, so Ivy can dip in even though walking on the rocks is hard for her now.  Special treats (need we say more, about Labs’s gastronomic gusto!).

I find my friend’s devotion to be simple and beautiful, a peaceful acceptance of what’s true.

I wish, for all of us, that we may enjoy that simplicity, that beauty.  I think, I feel, that simplicity and beauty are essential antidotes to that which is also absolutely true: That none of us is here together forever.

Sometimes I fight this harsh reality so mightily, I wear myself out.    I know that fighting it is exhausting and futile and is not really the optimum way to approach this pain.  I envy my friend’s passionate presence, in simplicity and beauty.

May such simplicity and beauty be visited on you, on me, on all of us.


About nadbugs

Anita loves cats. This must be because she, too, has had nine lives. She’s been dancing since she could walk, she was a commercial artist and advertising producer, she earned a third-degree black belt in Aikido, she is a drummer with the Afrique Aya Dance Company, she is an attorney, and she’s a meditator and a devoted student of Nonviolent Communication. She also spent one lifetime sidelined with a devastating back injury in 1992. Since then – FELDENKRAIS METHOD® to the rescue. The FELDENKRAIS METHOD is all about dreaming concretely – thinking intelligently and independently by way of a gracious and kind physicality. The work affords all who study it a process by which to reach, with movement, into the mind and the heart, to make nine lives into one whole being.
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15 Responses to Love and Loss

  1. So many pithy layers of thoughts. Death and its prospect puts everything into sharp relief. In my pet loss research, anticipatory loss looms large. Do you have a sense of why (in the bigger scheme of things) you witnessed the death of the young man?

  2. muse220 says:

    This is a great and insightful post. I am sure it will invoke different thoughts in many of us followers. Thank you for your insight and sharing!

  3. Ah, poor dear Ivy. I hope it ends gracefully for her.

    I also feel for the cyclist, as I also have one of those beasties. Not much he could have done to save himself once he went into the other lane. And the driver of that second car… What a shock for them, too.

    I’m actually surprised no one was selfishly raging about the traffic delay.

  4. I’m so sorry you witnessed such a terrible thing…It has impacted you in a lot of ways…I’m also sorry fur your furiend and poor little Ivy and her human. *(head bonks/ purrs/ trills)*

  5. Sparkle says:

    My human will probably never love another kitty the way she loved the cat before me. Because 12 years later it still hurts and she does not want to do that again.

  6. kimmo,spiveroo,stewie and smeezer(our real names have been changed to protect the guilty) says:

    Thank you dear friend for honoring Ivy and me, it touches my heart. And thank you dear bloggers for your kind words. Ivy and I just came in from a walk in the snow, she is still game for Life! and Now I read this lovely blog with Stewie on my lap….whatta blessing.

  7. Christine says:

    I wear myself out too dear friend…thank you for helping me know I’m not alone. It helps somehow.

  8. Daniel Schnee says:

    Happy Birthday. May this year bring 365 days and nights of simplicity, beauty, and compassion. Sk.

  9. Connie says:

    I love your dad’s quote

  10. Angel Abby says:

    These are not easy topics. Once we lose something we love deeply to death we are never the same because the loss becomes apart of us until we die. It changes us all in different ways. Some for the better, some for worse. Death makes you realize the fragility of what we call life and perhaps see death as simply another part of it.

  11. Truly a traumatic thing to witness. Personally, I have zero sense of fate, and consider even my existence part of a cosmic crap-shoot, so I DO live for the joy of each moment if possible. Because there will never be another one like it.

    I’d like to thank you for the links, esp the one on the pain podcasts. They have been very illuminating, and Scott is persuaded to try gentle yoga. Fingers crossed.

  12. Carolyn says:

    As Layla says, so many layers in this post. Nothing to add; just want to acknowledge the reading thereof.

  13. Wazeau says:

    Thank you for your sensitive post and for those final words of blessing.

  14. Your post is so eloquently written and I imagine many will reflect on it over and over. I know I will.

  15. cat9984 says:

    The story of Ivy reminds me of when our cat Rascal ate some of that tainted food from China. She was already 16, but my husband was extremely attached to her so he took her to the vet. The vet said the food had affected her kidneys and the only way to save her was with medicine and IVs. So he brought all of it home. I knew she was getting better when she refused to let me put the needle in her anymore. She lived for another 6 years.

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