Actually, love

Love, Actually is my favorite Christmas movie.  I know I’m not the only one who feels that way, but to some people it seems like an odd choice.  It does show some depressing snapshots of love: love gone wrong, gone sour, just… gone.  But those are real situations, that’s real life.  No one’s love is 100% at its best 100% of the time.  Every relationship faces hard decisions and rough patches.  If you’re lucky, you and your partner agree that your relationship is worth the hard work during those hard times, and together you make it work.  Sometimes it’s just agreeing to wait out the difficulties. But ultimately, you make those decisions because you both feel it’s worth it.

cinderella-hailing-a-cabAnd sometimes, you just have to accept that someone just doesn’t want to put forth the effort.

That’s when you, and you alone, have to decide if you’re going to put more time into that relationship, weighing the pros and cons.  Can you put up with what will be happening?  Can you live without what is missing?  Can you condone — and forgive — certain behaviors?

A lot of the time, people do decide “this is worth it” and continue to have faith in themselves and each other to power through the hard times.  And happy times come again, and there is some smooth sailing.

happily-ever-afterThere really isn’t any such thing as “happily ever after” though, because Life happens.  It isn’t static, captured forever in a bubble at the peak of happiness.  It isn’t just your life, or the life of your partner; it is, indeed, a question of how other people’s lives intersect and affect yours, isn’t it?

the-endAnd besides, how do you know when it’s the “end” of “happily ever after”?  When could anyone possibly declare “This is the ultimate day of ever after!”  What if tomorrow is better still?  And what happens when you hit a rut during the happy? Do you automatically declare that’s the end of ever after?

Life has a rhythm of its own.  And although it sure feels like it sometimes, Life really isn’t out to “get” anyone.

I suppose what it all comes down to is that Love, Actually is a realistic snapshot in its portrayal of different kinds of love, in different kinds of situations, at different stages of love.  And although I am the first to admit to being a hopeful romantic — I collect fairy tales, for heaven’s sake! — I am also a realist.  I know relationships of all kinds take a lot of work, a lot of patience, a lot of compromise, a lot of disagreements, and sometimes just knowing that you can’t win certain battles and knowing when it’s time to give in gracefully (I, personally, am still working on the “gracefully” part).

love actually heartI love so many people in my life, and juggling everyday things — and some extraordinary things at times — sometimes makes me forget all the love in my life.  But it’s not really forgetting, it’s just that love sometimes is in the background, obscured by fleeting moments of things deemed “important.”  But it’s always there, actually.  Love.

Until next Friday, Friends.  Cheers!drawn heart

Love, actually (a belated Valentine meditation)

Murphy loafMurphy-cat is my writing mews.

When he follows me to a quiet corner of the house, and sits in his Zen-like, kitty-loaf pose, blinking slowly at me, he’s trying to impart a great cat wisdom, I just know it.  After 45+ years being owned by cats, you’d think I’d understand a lot more, right?  I mean, spending 45 years studying another language!  And I still don’t get most of it….

(I sure hope the folks preparing to communicate with aliens have a better handle on linguistic communication with other life forms than humans do with cats.)

Admittedly, sometimes Murph-man just gives up on me, even rolling his eyes and sighing as he walks away.  (Humans!)

And yet, there’s something that passes between us as he blinks at me; or curls his tail around my leg as he walks by; even curled up sleeping peacefully at the foot of the bed as I sit writing, there is something therelove actually heart

What it comes down to is Love, actually.

The presence of a much-loved being in our lives is a powerful thing: when we’re with the people we love most in this World — furry and otherwise — everything is better, or at least more hope-filled; when they’re simply in the same room or many heartsacross the table, or on the sofa, or in the car, our hearts are filled with love and our spirits shine the brightest.  Even frustrated with our loved ones, if we’re not communicating well, even if we are sitting at the bedside of one of our loves — worried/sad/scared, our hearts are still filled with love.

When that bright, real Love is shared, when it is all about “back at ya!” and “me too!” or in silent company, or slow blinking… you know there is Love.

Right there.  Right then.  And even always.

Roses are red

Until Friday, Friends.  Cheers!drawn heart

Unfurgettable

“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude,
then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”
~ James Herriot
With the exception of my years away at college, and the first month living on my own, I have always shared my home with pets.  Dogs and cats, and one gerbil.  All of my pets have been long-lived (except the poor gerbil), and I think they were, and are, all happy lives.  I know my own life has been forever changed by the animals who have been such an integral part of my time on this earth.  They are special.  They are family.
All our pets have been healthy, with just a few unscheduled vet visits here and there for various minor illnesses; occasionally something more serious.  Our two previous cats, Merlyn and Tully, lived to be 19 and 10 respectively.  Both developed kidney disease in their later lives; the 19-year-old better able to cope with the disease physically and mentally than the 10-year-old eventually did.  We treated each of them to keep them comfortable and maintain a good quality of life.  When it was time to let them go, they did indeed let me know, and our blessed, compassionate veterinarian came to our home to help them gently go, comfortably and peacefully.
“Animals have a much better attitude to life and death than we do. 
They know when their time has come.  We are the ones that suffer when they pass,
but it’s a healing kind of grief that enables us to deal with other griefs…”
~ Emmylou Harris
It’s something of a shock to find the years have gone by swiftly, and I find we have “senior” pets living in our home again.  Everyone is healthy for their ages, and living their lives happily.  But once in a while, I’ll see a little more gray on a muzzle; a little bit slower step; a little hesitation before jumping up on the stool beside me as I write.  And I know the time will be coming again to say “goodbye”, and always sooner than I am ready to deal with.
But I’ve just returned from a semi-emergency trip to the vet with Murph, and those thoughts are making my heart ache.
We’d been visiting my Dad on the Gulf shore for a week, and our regular trusted cat sitters had been taking care of the kitty-kids (our dog goes to Puppy-Camp, aka, the kennel).  The evening we’d returned, Murphy seemed out of sorts, but I chalked it up to him being miffed we’d left for a week.  The next morning, however, I knew something was wrong: he kept shaking his head, somewhat violently at times.  And the sneezing fits!  At one point he lost his balance and had to sit down abruptly.  Then the indignity of having kitty snot on his whiskers and bib was just too much, and he ran and hid in the bedroom closet.  When he finally did settle to sleep for a bit, he wanted to be under the covers (unheard of for Murph) and wanted my hand to cradle his head.  Once he fell asleep, albeit fitfully, I used my other hand to reach for my phone and called the vet.
“Pets are humanizing.  They remind us we have an obligation and
responsibility to preserve and nurture and care for all life.”
~ James Cromwell
Because he is a “senior” kitty now, our vet wanted to do some blood work to rule out some of the nastier possibilities, and because I worked at a vet’s office once upon a time and saw some of those nasties, I concurred.  Fortunately for us, it is “just” an upper respiratory infection.  A shot of antibiotics, some IV fluid, and now home to rest.  Murphy is sleeping peacefully on the living room sofa — his “lookout” to keep tabs on the rest of the family.  I am grateful.  And I am sad.
I know it is greedy of me to want them here with me forever.  I know it’s not realistic.  I am most afraid I’ll cross the line between helping them living comfortably and forcing them to stay past time for them to have gained their rest… but I won’t.  I can’t.  And I will be there at the end, telling them it’s ok to go, and holding them long past when their mighty hearts stop beating.  And I will cry.  I will mourn.  And my heart will break into a million pieces, and yet somehow still so full of the love they gave me unconditionally.  And I will be a better person for having them share my life.  My precious pets have been with me through all the chapters of my life; good and bad, awesome and horrible, and everyday.  They keep on loving me EVERY DAY.
We have always adopted from shelters, and I don’t ever see that changing.  And one day, I won’t feel the grief to be so stifling.  And I will eventually feel that “tug” on my heart that leads me to one of the animal shelters our community supports.  And I have no doubt whatsoever that there will be a furry someone who looks at me and says “There you are!  I’ve been waiting for you.  Let’s go home!”
“It’s difficult to understand why people don’t realize
that pets are gifts to mankind.”
~ Linda Blair
Until then — and ever after — I will love and cherish our furry family here with us now.  I will embrace their aging with as much grace as I can, knowing we outlive these marvelous creatures only because they come into this world already knowing how to love unconditionally, and that’s what they are here to teach us. Everyday.  If we would just watch and listen and learn.
“…I just don’t know how I would have lived without animals around me…”
~ Betty White
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Until Friday, Friends.  Cheers to you all, furry and otherwise!