Four years ago, I woke up to frantic texts from my sister that something really bad had happened. Four years ago, I received one of those phone calls you always dread. On November 2nd, 2012, I found out that my dear Kindred Spirit was dead, mysteriously dying on October 30th, 2012. Not only was she dead, but she had died inside an abusive relationship and a cult, which shattered my entire perception of reality and left me wrestling with grief, faith, God, abuse, and so much more ever since.
Four years later, October is always a hard month as old grief and trauma resurface.
After Bethany died, I experienced the deepest darkness I have ever known. I would call it the night of the soul. Sometimes, it’s strange to look back on that time of my life and wonder how I ever survived. I was suicidal in many ways. I didn’t want to live or love again. Everything shut down in my heart in profound ways.
My heart was broken, and I wondered if I could ever recover.
A year after Bethany died, my roommates at the time surprised me with a Christmas present: a cat. They drove me to the animal shelter, and I picked her out. When I first saw Eilonwy, (her animal shelter name was “Christy,” which didn’t fit her at all), I knew she was the one. I was scared to commit to a pet. I was scared to love and open my heart. But looking at Eilonwy, I knew I had to love her. I fell into Love, and this small little creature touched my hardened heart.
Eilonwy was with me through the second year of grief over Bethany that I wrote about on my blog. As I struggled through intense anger and grief and despair, she sat by my side. She’d curl up on my lap every day and remind me that life could be beautiful, too. That love was worth it. Her steadfast love over the past few years taught me that opening one’s heart to something is always worth it. My heart was mended in some way through our friendship. (And we did have a true friendship. It was uncanny how we could communicate without words. Anyone who has had a deep connection with an animal knows what I’m talking about.)
Over a week ago, Eilonwy went missing.
She slipped out of the house one evening while I was out of town at a wedding, and I haven’t seen her since. I’ve looked and looked and looked. I’ve handed out fliers and put letters in mailboxes and posted all over social media and talked to neighbors. Still no sign.
My heart is broken all over again.
As I grieved Bethany in October, it began to hit me that I have to grieve this animal now, too. I had to grieve the living thing who taught me how to love after Beth’s death and who shone light into my darkened heart. Maybe Eilonwy is gone forever, missing the very same month my dear Beth died 4 years ago.
I’ll admit that 2016 has been a very rough year. I haven’t blogged at all about it, really. But I have faced death again of people I dearly loved, I have grieved deeply again. My health problems continue to cause issues, and I’ve been in multiple unhealthy, abusive situations this year that have drained me of vitality.
And now October. Now this. The one living creature who stuck by my side through everything, who was been a constant, daily source of comfort and joy, who I turned to for such emotional support…she’s gone. I didn’t realized how deeply I leaned on this small, seemingly insignificant creature until she’s now disappeared. Now her little animal absence clouds my entire heart, our entire home.
Life matters. Even the smallest life.
Sometimes, I just wonder if the world is playing is some cruel trick on us all. If the universe just laughs up there while we try to cope with one awful thing after another. I want to again cave into cynicism and despair and anger and darkness—just as I did 4 years again when my Kindred Spirit died. I want to believe that the world is only horrible, because it would justify me being only horrible and giving up and treating others however I damn well please.
That is, after all, how many live their lives. They become disillusioned and just give up, and Hate enters, slowly and subtlety destroying their hearts and the lives of countless others in their wake.
But then there’s Love.
I can’t deny that what Eilonwy and I had was Love. Maybe to some of you this sounds silly. To anyone who has shared a bond with an animal, you know. This pure, unconditional Love between two different species that breaks all boundaries and reminds us that differences don’t have to separate us. That just because something is small and furry and can’t speak with human words doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have things to teach us and show us.
Maybe the bond that can form with an animal shows us that Love can transcend anything. That the Different still have profound meaning. They are still part of creation and worthy of respect and love. They may speak in different ways, but their words are just as loud.
Eilonwy loved me. There have been multiple times this year where I felt so tired, so sad, so alone—and she would always climb into my lap and purr and make sure I knew that no matter what was going on in the world, I was Loved. She was a gift. Our friendship was a gift. She was God’s handprint on my aching heart.
Eilonwy taught me to listen, to hear, to be part of relationship in a whole new way. Because true Love is about listening. It’s learning how to see something from a whole other perspective, to respect a living being, and to find ways to transcend the Different and make a beautiful bond.
Our world needs more of that. We need to be able to see the Different and to embrace it, love it, and learn from it. Instead of seeing ourselves as superior, we must see ourselves as constantly learning from the Different—human and animal alike. How are we ever to find peace if we can’t learn to listen and respect the Different?
And this comes from Love. You can’t deny that no matter how awful the world is, that Love shines through. That it is Love that gets us through. That the greatest stories of peace, redemption, and healing are about Love. Difference. Transcendence.
Since Bethany’s death, I have made the long, arduous trek towards Love. I’ve begun to realize that Love is the only reason to keep existing in this world. I’ve realized that the only way to fight the evil and darkness so prevalent in this world is through Love.
Love is a gift. Opening one’s heart is a gift–even when one’s heart is later broken because of it.
Loss will come. This is the inevitable way of life. Anything we love will be lost someday. But Love is more powerful than loss. Love transcends time and space and species and the world. After all, the Different isn’t so different when Love is there.
So when your heart is breaking, please remember this:
Love is worth it. Again and again. No matter what.
Love never fails.
Featured photo by Adobe Stock/Leonid Ikan