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Posts Tagged ‘support’

mittens spoon
My life seems to have no affirming moments at the moment, but I have been cheered up by talking about loss and bereavement with a very sweet friend. Her hamster has just come to the end of its 1000 days and although it was very small – a pygmy hamster in fact – she poured a lot of love into its tiny speckled life and it brought her a lot of joy.

On Friday morning Mittens did not join her for breakfast; he had achieved what we might all hope for one day, and died peaceful and much loved in his sleep of old age. This lovely girlfriend also has a great sense of fun and the ability to see the positive in almost anything, as she showed again when she told me about Mitten’s burial.

It isn’t easy to dispose of a well-loved pet when you live in a small flat in a big city. After spending some of the morning reviewing all the pictures of Mittens in happier times saved on her computer, and crying, she rummaged in the cupboards to find a small disposable container. In the end she emptied a box of tea and put the hamster – wrapped in tissue – in the box, (although she is now concerned that she will never again catch the scent of Earl Grey without feeling sad.)

Then with the box in her shoulder bag – and feeling rather uneasily like a drug smuggler -she took a bus to the park to find a quiet place. At this point she realised that she had nothing to dig with, but a search through the bag uncovered a spoon in her lunchbox (also apparently in the bag with the deceased hamster!) so she dug a grave with the small spoon for her yoghurt and buried the box in the hole.

After sitting quietly for a few minutes she walked away down the path towards the gate, but glancing back she saw a dog already sniffing around the foot of her chosen tree, so she had to run back, shoo the dog away – then apologise to the dog’s owner – before getting out the spoon again and digging the hole much deeper, seeking out a big stone to place on the grave and taking one last photo. Finally, with very dirty hands and a spoon which could never serve yoghurt again, she was able to walk to work.

We laughed a lot while she shared this story with me, which chased away some of the sadness of her loss, and then we planned to go out soon to look at hamsters in a nice pet shop nearby. It made me think about how this girl fills her life with experiences, and also about the importance of finding the positive in a situation in order to gain the strength to move forward. What a special gift it is to be able to find this sunny side – and even more so to be able to share it with the people we care about.

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As a very old man who has lived a very long life, I would
like to impart my (perhaps dated) perspective on this matter for anyone
interested.

Now that I have lived a lifetime’s worth of days, I have finally
come to see the folly of my ways. So listen when I speak of the temptations of
this world: nice things, status, success and pretty women.

Since I’m nearing 80, I can confidently say that I’m standing on the precipice of
death, and I can tell you that my perspective is enormous. When I wake up
each morning and go outside, I can see the connected nature and wonder of every
leaf and every cloud and I marvel at the forces which have formed us.

However, ever since the passing of my wife, some days all I’ve
got is a lone nighttime walk. But then when I whistle some sweet melody, and it
sparks some very beautiful memories; and once you are my age those great
memories bring unspeakable contentment to you.

So young people, try your best to ignore what you think
matters, instead bring true joy to yourself and each other. Because when all is
said and done, when your youth is spent and burned, you’ll see that it’s all
about the simple things you take for granted: music, flowers, babies, sharing
the good times, traveling not just for business, accepting your mortality. This
is finally what I’ve learned.

And then in the end it’s family and friends! Loving yourself,
but not only yourself, it’s about the good walk, and the long hard walk and the
relationships and connections you’ve had. It’s about making a little music
everyday till you die; it’s a beautiful ride.

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Catching up with some girlfriends on their various social media of choice, I realise how much more real, more valid, we feel when our voice sounds among our friends, a resonant viola harmonising with the string section rather than a poignant, shrill violin on the lonely wind.

Well, there was a lot of wind, actually, but hot air is soothing too and sometimes a well-directed scalding blast can kindle the parts you thought were forever cold.

There has been some heated discussion recently over whether women are gaining the ascendancy over men, and how morally right or wrong that would be. Would I be betraying my gender if I wonder how important that is to most women, compared to their position in their own family group and peer group? The so-called battle of the sexes must largely be fought by women who have little else to fight for.

The gift I get from my sisterhood is laughter. There’s a lot of giggling in the early stages of a romance, but love can be a sadly serious business and life as a grown-up, modern woman even more so; nothing compares for self-validating power to an unrestrained belly laugh with a group of girlfriends.

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I talked with a dear friend who is a good number of years older and wiser than me. One thing I do love about being ‘une femme d’un certain age’ is the wide range of friends I can enjoy; it is fascinating and invigorating to chatter with beautifully gilded lilies of twenty-something and equally educational and inspiring to spend time at the feet of the grande dames we hope one day to be.

Anyway, this awe-inspiring life force gifted me her ear into which I poured my woes, though the conversation was rather stilted as she was on a train at the time.

We commiserated in our perplexity at the tough-skinned yet tender male of the species, and considered usefully analogous men from her past. She listened, she sipped her mineral water, and she gave her verdict. ‘To speak frankly, darling, nurture him if you can, but if he won’t screw you, then screw him!’

Later I realised that in true Delphic fashion the wisdom I had received was double-edged; was I to tell my unloving lover to f*** off? Or did she suggest that I should cut the psychobabble and straddle him as he slept?

I can only imagine what the other rail passengers made of it.

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