Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Abra

Today would have been Abra’s 12th birthday. I have been keenly aware of the approaching date all week. I have talked to her portrait, stared at the cedar box that holds her ashes, and shed tears as I have thought about how much I miss her presence in my life.

Abra is responsible for every dog that shares my life right now. Maize and Halo are her daughters, Cadi, Asia and Zoey are her granddaughters, and little Syd is her great granddaughter. And yet it seems like yesterday that I picked her up from Colorado. It was on that trip home that I heard on NPR that Princess Diana had died in a car accident; Abra’s arrival and Princess Diana’s death have always been intertwined in my mind.

The approach of Abra’s birthday has invited me to contemplate grief, loss and love in the context of my own experience. It seems obvious but I have been struck again with the reality that the lifetime of a dog is so short. Yesterday I was sitting on the floor with Sydney on my lap and Maize next to me, and I told both of them that it seemed like yesterday that Maize was the small puppy. And now Maize has gray on her muzzle and she is not quite as fast as she used to be; Abra’s death reminds me that I must say good-bye to each of these dogs.

What is it about love that is so powerful that it draws us like moths to a flame? Abra’s death was heartbreaking, and yet here I am surrounded by six more who are destined to break my heart. Perhaps we forget how badly it hurts – although we can speak of it, maybe the pain is dulled from our memories so that we can be free to love again? Or maybe the force of love is just bigger than the fear of that achingly painful despair that is grief?

I really do not know, but it doesn’t make much sense – usually we avoid things that cause us such terrible pain. Think about it – if you fell off a cliff, would you be scrambling around the edge again once you got out of the hospital?! But here I am – dancing on the edge again, with the liability multiplied, and no guardrail in sight. And so it is with all of our close relationships – we carry on with the full knowledge that they almost always end in sorrow.

Some people choose not to love, and they stay safe from the heartbreak – and miss all the joy that is love. And it is that joy – and all the other emotions and experiences that come with love – that remind us that we are alive. And I think that is why we dance on the edge – because it is exhilarating and thrilling and wonderful, and even the sorrow helps us feel alive and real.

Abra gave me so much and taught me even more. I miss her sweet presence in my life more than I can say, and there is nothing that makes that void better. But it does not honor her to stop loving, and so I find joy in the family she left in her place. But today I keenly feel the sorrow at her loss, and wish that I could kiss her nose just one more time.

Happy Birthday Abra.

Here she is doing a brace with Maize (Abra is closest to me) -- it was in 2005 so she was solidly a veteran. The picture at the top of this post was taken about two weeks before she died.

I hope your losses help your heart to open wide to new love.

1 comment:

  1. Happy Birthday Memories!

    Peaches looks so much like her Grandmother Abra. I wish I could have met her. She sounds like she was a wonderful spirit.