Many people I know have suffered loss this year, in some cases very significant, painful losses. Each time I hear of another huge gut-punch to someone I care about, I’m reminded of my own losses this past year, and I worry what else 2015 might have in store for me.
Winnie the Pooh was one of the very first books I remember my mother reading to me as a child, and now, as an adult, I frequently consult Pooh Bear for wisdom; he never disappoints. In fact, it’s odd, but even hearing the name, “Winne the Pooh,” sends a feeling of warmth throughout my body, a pulsing of love and comfort that settles my mind and calms my spirit. Through the many losses of myself and others this year, Pooh has helped put things into perspective.
My Aunt Shirley died on April 8th; though not entirely unexpected, her death was unwelcome. She was a constant presence in my life, and from the day I was born until her last, I knew she was there, somewhere. I’m reminded of her in the words of my buddy Pooh: “Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” When I was young, I saw Aunt Shirley often because my parents spent a lot of time with her and her family. As I grew older, the times together were less frequent, but twice in my life, her presence I felt in a powerful way. One time, my car caught fire as I was driving, and I happened to be near her and my uncle’s business. After dealing with the fire department and police, I staggered to the comfort of my aunt while awaiting a ride to the hospital to be checked. Another time was the day of my marriage to Adam’s father; no one in my family favored our marriage, and I knew that, but I will never forget my aunt’s whispered words as she came through the receiving line: “We love you,” no exceptions, no exclusions, no demands.
Lately, I’ve experienced poignant moments of sudden sadness when I think about my little Basco, our boy chihuahua whom we lost on July 30th. Initially despondent, I grieved willingly; he was a major part of my everyday life, and I missed him terribly. After a while, the memories became softer, sweeter, less painful. Now, I’ll go hours without thinking of him at all, but suddenly, I’ll see his face or remember something specific about him, and I feel like it was moments ago that he died. I used to dress him up during October in a pumpkin outfit. He hated it; I loved it, and everyone who ever saw the photos laughed at the ridiculousness, and aside from his reindeer antlers, Halloween was the only time I subjected him to human ridicule. Every time I remember that, lately, tears are at the ready and fill my eyes to overflowing. Sometimes it happens at night, just before I sleep, and my pillow is damp when I wake. Pooh reminds me, “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying good-bye so hard.”
The autumn season, the falling leaves, and the quieting of nature exacerbate my feelings of loss—especially since I do not enjoy winter weather—and the losses I’ve had, along with the losses of friends, all contribute to my recent melancholy. I realize that my losses are deep and painful because of the importance of those people and animals to my life; huge love equals a huge loss. It’s the price we have to pay, and as I continue to age, this will be only more regular. I have to face the reality that someday, I’ll either lose or be lost, even those I love most dearly. How to make the most of the remaining time, I turn to Pooh once more: “When you see someone putting on [her] Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is about to happen.”