This I Believe

Grace - Toronto, Kansas
Entered on July 9, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: death, family, hope

This I believe – Life does not turn out the way we wanted. It is said that to find happiness we must want what we get. Reaching this esoteric position is not easy to achieve. As I look at the faces of the people around me I find that I am not alone.

Over the years there have been difficult losses. When I was younger I buried myself in activity; physical challenges, working long hours, taking care of many pets, moving for yet another job. No time to think.

Recently my life has been turned upside down with what seems to me to be the loss of losses. My only child died by his own hand. The faces of the unhappy people are becoming my face. Trained from childhood I always do the socially acceptable thing when someone asks “How are you?” saying brightly “Just Fine!”. “Smile and the world smiles with you, cry and you cry alone”. Only now it is not possible to escape into frenetic activity.

This morning I sat in the barn on one of the milking stands gently squeezing the white liquid as valuable to me as gold from the teats of one of my goats. The little Aussie Shepard, who had been my son’s dog, came through the milking area to get to her favorite corner. As I watched she suddenly stopped, startled, and then backed away from the other milking stand. I got up to see what frightened her. Then I saw the one thing out of the ordinary; a handful of black and white hair trimmed from one of the goats the day before that was lying flattened on the floor. Picking it up, I offered it to the little dog. She tentatively sniffed the hair, wagged her tail as if to say “of course” and went to her comer.

A single thing, that patch of hair, a crack in the floor, a piece of paper, can cause panic because that is all the animal sees at that moment. They are unable to put that single thing it into perspective with the items around it. With the little dog’s fright I realized that this is how I see the death of my son. It is like a patch of black and white hair. It is all I can see at the moment.

Life has not turn out the way I wanted. But, if somehow, just once in a while, I can see the golden threads in a stream of fresh milk, recall sweet memories, or feel the pleasure of a treasured gift weaving into the pit of this loss, then perhaps I can keep going until there is again a reason to live.