Friday, April 27, 2007

Breaking Point/Inner Strength

I wrote the entry below this portion last night.

I removed it earlier today, my daughter's beloved canine friend died.

I removed it because, knew I would be changing the entry, I had no idea how, I still do not, I am in a mood, to just write my thoughts out, examine, and let them go.

In all honesty, during the writing of the entry last night, I truly thought, I was only thinking of my daughter. But now, I am not so sure. Yes, she was in my mind. But, I now believe, I was transferring some of my own emotions.

We are dealing with many small stresses in our lives, (granted, they do not seem small to us). Miss Daughter manifests her stress in more obvious, teen-age driven ways, than I. I just did not want to think about how I was truly feeling, I was only allowing myself to think about her, or so I thought....we are all very narcissistic at times in our lives.....gazing at our reflections, seeking answers..........sometimes.....missing the complete truth of what is happening around us.

Anyway, when I compared our stresses, to those experienced by those of others peopling our world, our problems appear so minuscule. As I was writing last night, my thoughts turned in that direction. The families across the world, who fear to ride public transportation, due to the possibility of suicide bombings, or the many other acts of war. Those families who have no clean drinking water, or no more to eat than a ration of rice to fill their starving bellies. Illness, disease, multiple deaths, poverty, war, the list could go on, and on......with no end. These thoughts helped to place my own problems in perspective. These thoughts do not make my own disappear, nor any less stressful, but they do open my eyes to the fact, that I live a very easy life, and so do my children. Anyway, all a part of my thought processes throughout.

In all of this, my wondrous baby girl, demonstrated her strengths to me.

Miss Daughter, is sad, grieving, but handling it, amazingly well. Open to the memories she has of her beloved pet. She filled her day with school, friends, and with music. She made a conscious decision not to spend the day grieving. We each spilled tears, sharing hugs, words of support, and the need for answers. (Filled with the need to know why she died, in response to our questions, we have taken her body to a diagnostic lab for a necropsy to be done, hoping for those answers.)

My darling, said to me, only hours ago. "They say, getting another dog helps. But, I am not so sure I can. Not right now. I would only make comparisons, and there would be no comparison. My Dog, was always mine, she had a spirit that was uniquely her, we belonged to each other."

And, my darling daughter, was correct, her pet, was truly hers, when it was time for Miss Daughter to return her to her pen, the dog, always obeyed, but, often times, she would place her mouth over Miss Daughter's hand, until that hand was engulfed, and, then, gently tug. What meaning do we put to such a gesture?

Dogs, are loyal creatures to their pack members, Miss Daughter was her Alpha, she obeyed her without hesitation. The dog suffered a broken leg at a young age, and had to have the leg re-bandaged every week, due to her rapid puppy growth. She was very hard to handle for the Veterinarian staff, her body writhing, teeth flashing, unless Miss Daughter stood by her head, and then, she was completely docile, no matter the pain or discomfort she suffered.

Pets. Our lives are enriched by the animals we have in our care. No matter the species, there is learning we gain from having them in our lives. In the past 7 years, I have mourned the death of 3 dogs, several cats, and two rats. All, animals, that were loved by our family, cared for by our family, and in return, even the rats seemed to have some sort of inter-species affection for those of us who saw to their needs. We have a tendency to anthropomorphize our pets, placing human thoughts and emotions on them, a fun verbal game, we in my family play (making up thoughts for the actions of the animals in our lives), but we also realize, they are truly beyond our understanding. Even with that knowledge, they do add to our lives, giving gifts of comfort, a living, breathing, soft warm life, to touch and caress, to soothe our souls.

When lost, we mourn them, or most of us, there are those that dehumanize, instead of humanize......with that thought, perhaps, a little anthropomorphizing of an animal is better, than thinking they do not feel. They do, just watch the interactions, whether animal to animal, or animal to human. They feel. In their way, I believe they love too.

I have seen a cat grieve the loss of her house mate, I have seen a dog, grieve the loss of its master. Just as we grieve their loss.

I have wondered, is it easier, this time, because we have dealt with so many deaths in the past year? Death has not taken a vacation this year, his scythe is well used. Does it become easier, or do we just learn to grieve more gracefully? Or, is it, because as pet 'owners', we know from the very beginning, that their lives are short-lived compared to our own? As children we do not realize this, but as we grow older, it is a lesson learned by all. My daughter, my son, learned this lesson early on, living on a farm, living with a constantly changing menagerie of animals filling our home and lives.

I have no real answers, but I do know.....that life continues.....each day, we breathe in, we breathe out.....we can witness life, or we can live it.....the good and the bad.....sighs.......and more sighs......I am still rather weary.....of saying goodbye........we all are.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

How much is too much? We each have a point we reach, when we feel as if we have reached our breaking point.

I have been sitting here this evening, pondering, trying to sort out, how much will be too much for my family, most especially, my daughter.

In the past year, there have been many changes take place in my daughters life.

Changes, that to me, I think I take in stride, (well sorta), knowing that each, is a part of life, maybe not a part of life that we want, or wish for, but they happen, we will suffer during some of them, but we will get through them.

But to a 17 year old, each change, has been a major one. She lost a very close friend last spring to suicide, she then lost her great-grandmother and mentor this fall. She lost her best friend, or the person she thought was her best friend due to the usual teen-age stuff. Then I changed jobs, and went from having a very flexible schedule, from being a large part of her life, being available to her most of the time when she was not in school or with friends, to being gone 9 to 10 hours every week day, sometimes more. In addition, her family has fallen apart, her grades have fallen, which has left her feeling very disappointed with herself.

Will one more thing, be her breaking point? Her dog, and I mean, HER dog, is very ill, possibly dying, of an unknown, undiagnosable, untreatable illness. She has loved this animal, she has trained her to behave in the way an animal with huge sharp teeth must in our world. Miss Daughter, used her intellect, her natural intuition of animal behaviors, to teach a very strong willed dog, to obey her, for the dog's safety, as well as that of humans.

She has had many pets in her short life, has lost many, through illness, old age, or even at the meat packers (being that she makes pets of her beef show cattle), but this one, this is an animal that became more to her, she has been her running companion, her soccer partner, her companion to hug, when she was miserable over lost love, and teenage angst. They have explored the nearby state park together, they have learned together. Miss Daughter is a true animal lover, she has a gift, most especially with feral animals. But this, this is losing a member of her family.

I am not sure how she will handle this one. She has been suffering from panic attacks in recent months, has started experimenting more and more with teen-age rebellious behavior.

As a parent, we want to soften the blows our children feel, we ache when they ache, we feel their pain, we commiserate with them, but there is nothing I can do in this situation, as with many others, except try my best to be there for her, give her the nurturing she needs. Grieve with her, cry with her, hug her, hold her. It doesn't feel like enough.


Fiona said...

That old adage of 'god never gives you more than you can handle', is a load of bull. I've seen people crack. I believe it takes love and support to help us 'handle'.

Perhaps the only real difference you can make, Sunny, is by being there for her, as you are. You can't prevent anything from happening, you can't pack her in cotton wool and keep her from the pain. It all realy sucks and at the same time it's all about growing up. The losses, the hurts, the unfairness of it all.

Just be there for her as she works through it. Help her to keep handling.

Big hugs to you both.

deb said...

It's awful watching your children in pain and it's awful knowing that we are helpless to stop their pain. But we will all have pain in our lives and will all have to learn to deal with it. It sounds so harsh but it's what she's doing.

I'm sorry it's so tough for her right now, sounds like the year from hell.

"there is nothing I can do in this situation, except try my best to be there for her, give her the nurturing she needs. Grieve with her, cry with her, hug her, hold her. It doesn't feel like enough."

It is enough and it's all you can really do.

wreckless said...

I'm with fiona, be there for her. Be around her as much as you can and that is about all you can do. I hope and will pray that things get better for you.

X. Dell said...

My condolences both to you and your daughter. She seems to have suffered a lot of hardship recently, especially the suicide. I suspect that the pain of losing a friend to death, coupled with the passing of her great-grandmother sensitized her to the dog's passing, as if she were reliving the other two over again.

Since you've gone through those hardships with her, and dealt with some of your own, perhaps some of your emotions did transfer. Seems natural.

Dogs are special pets because they communicate so easily with humans--even though, as you point out, we sometimes have a tendency to overestimate their intelligence. Still, there is something shared with dogs and other pets that is gone once the animal has passed.

I'm really hoping the year improves for you.

With respect to your previous post, perhaps one cannot find light in the darkness. Then again, maybe the darkness is what makes us appreciate the light.

Sunny Delight said...

What I was reminded of yesterday, is just how strong my darling girl is, and, how we comfort each other. She may challenge me often, but that is all a part of learning to grow be her own person. We were there for each other, to love and support. Thank you, for yours.

The harsh realities of life. Knowing we all must live with them, is the easy part. So much has happened, in even, the peripherals of our lives, that sometimes, I worry too much....about the direction she will take in her pain.....but, so good....and that is all I can hope for......

Thank you, for your hope and faith, It will get better, it always does. When I am thinking clearly, that is a truth I know.

I write it out to gain focus, probably why in many ways, several of my entries seem to revisit the same areas over and over, that need to refocus.,
"Then again, maybe the darkness is what makes us appreciate the light."
As always, a gem of wisdom and insight from you. Thank you.

Phil said...

Hi Sunny,

I'm sorry to hear that you and your family have had one more thing to deal with this year. My thoughts are with you.

Laurie Anne said...

Sunny D, I read your blog from Jonas' At Twilight. I immediately sympathize/empathize with your daughter's feelings of loss over her dog. My 14 yo cat is very ill and sick and I am so sad because he has been through so much with me. Always with grace, with humor, with love.
I am a single parent and know what it's like to worry over minutes, hours and how can we spend more time, good time with our children while attempting to earn a living, be whole ourselves, etc. Take care.

Sunny Delight said...

It is nice to see you again, you must be finding time to blog.

Thank you for your kind words. We will get through it, day by day.... as someone keeps telling breathing in........and breathing out....we get there.

laurie anne,
Thank you also, for your kind words. I too sympathize with you, we lost a cat at age 14, I can't tell you the number of times, I would go looking for her, only to then remember that she was gone. Pets add so much to our lives.

Being a parent is the best thing I have ever done, but.....yes the constant worry, the always wanting to be there for them, trying to know what it is they need from us, as they progress through life, a very tough job, but one I wouldn't give up for anything!

Fiona said...

Sunny....I'm so sorry, my first comment was before the loss. It's so hard losing a pet, a piece of your heart gets stamped upon, they bring us such joy and loyalty and unconditional love. My thoughts are with your darling girl and you.