Reflections on Life, Love, Loss and Grief

This is one of my rollercoaster weeks as it includes son, Harry’s birthday (22), and my mother’s anniversary (1921-2009).

It has also been a week which has seen the horrific bombing in Manchester and a number of terrible tragedies here in Ireland.

I suppose it’s not surprising that I have found myself reflecting on all sorts of issues around life, love, loss and grief. The following are among the many thoughts that have been flitting around in my heart and mind:

#1. The fragility of life is mesmerising. While we need to be very aware of this fragility in order to make the most of every moment, it is something that dances around like sunlight playing with trees in a soft breeze.

 

Leaves
Fragility

 

#2. To love and be loved brings with it the risk/likelihood of having to deal with loss.

#3. Losses are not objectively categorisable in terms of their level of awfulness. To go down that road is to over-simplify what is a highly complex matter ~ and we need to be conscious that a whole host of factors come into play in terms of how losses are processed by different individuals and that one person may process losses in his/her life very differently.

#4. While there may be competitiveness in the cut and thrust of life ~ competitiveness has no place when it comes to grief and grieving.

#5. We need to recognise that there is no single best way to grieve or to deal with people who are grieving.

#6. We also need to be acutely aware that what may appear like the same loss in say a family context may well be dealt with very differently by the various members of the family. Remember that each family member is unique and has unique relationships with other members of the family.

#7. The extent to which we love someone does not necessarily equate with the grief we feel when they die. We may have a sense that a person has passed on a legacy of strength and that is something that can sustain us through what can appear on the outside to be an overwhelming loss.

 

Fragility
Layers of Love

 

#8. It is impossible to know how anyone will react to the death of a loved one, no matter how expected or unexpected that death is.

#9. Memories of loved ones who have died live on in a host of different ways and cling to all the senses, especially touch, smell, sight, sound and taste.

#10. Memories can be extremely vivid and key moments may remain etched in one’s being for years and years and years.  Those key moments may well involve exchanges with people around the time of the death of a loved one as our senses may be very heightened as we seek to cope with what may seem like the overwhelming.

#11. Life is for living; life owes us nothing; we have no ‘entitlement’ to live to a great age.

#12. Love should be nurtured, treasured, celebrated and scattered to the winds as well as held close to the heart.

#13. The sharedness of life and love, lived to the full and with as few regrets as possible, are anchors that can sustain us through unthinkable losses and terrible tossings of grief.

 

Harry
The Birthday Boy!

 

Grief and Online Friends

Social media, and especially blogging, allows for the development of close bonds and friendships with people we may never have the pleasure of meeting in person. Such people can play a hugely important role in our lives and relationships are built around shared interests.

In some cases, people that we grow close to online can be enormously supportive in our lives. The very fact that they live thousands of miles away but are still there with words of kindness, fun, advice and friendship makes them all the more special. They don’t care how much money we have or don’t have; what we look like; how we’re dressed ….. they see straight into our minds and hearts through our words and photographs and they care about us, just as we care about them.

There’s no easy way to learn that any friend has died. The passing of online friends can sometimes happen without us ever hearing about it. They just go silent. In other cases, we learn the sad news via other online friends or acquaintances and there is a horrible sense of shock and helplessness. There’s nowhere to go with a plate of sandwiches or an address to which to send a sympathy card ~ there’s just a vacuum. That vacuum is when you are in the non-virtual’ world and occurs because one’s nearest and dearest are unlikely to have had any connection or possibly knowledge of the online friend who has died.

But, there can be great communities of support in some cases when a much loved online friend dies. This has been the case in recent days with the sad passing of Paul Curran, who was such a good blogging friend to some many of us here on WordPress.

I can’t remember when Paul first came into my life ~ I guess it was three or four years ago. He was one of those people who commented on my blog on a very regular basis and I loved to read the Sunday guest posts which he wrote on Willow’s and then Mark’s blogs.

Paul was a Canadian man with a huge heart. He had lived a life of adventure and ups and downs and was a true fighter when it came to the illnesses with which he had to grapple. Most of all he was a man who had a love of life ~ down to the simplest of things.

He was man enough to be able to laugh at himself and shed tears for those he felt were less fortunate than himself. He spread hope wherever he went in blogland with his wise and well-chosen words.

So, how do you cope when someone as significant as this dies?  I wish Paul was around to give an answer to this question!

image289-1paul
Paul Curran (RIP)

My sense is that, like any other death, you’ve got to give time a chance to let the reality of the situation sink in and also do what one can to remember the person as they have suggested they would like to be remembered.

What Paul’s comments always suggested to me was that he longed to be at the ocean ~ and he was soon to be there if he had just lived a little longer.

He would also want openness ~ yes, Paul, I have shed tears knowing that you are gone from us and I’ve given Puppy Stan, whom you loved, a special cuddle. I’ve also read back over some of your comments and smiled, pondered, wondered, smiled again.

One thing I DO know is that just because you were an online friend doesn’t make you any less a friend than a ‘real’ one. I know I will think of you when I’m by the sea or old places that you always thought were awesome. I’ll give a little wave to truck drivers as they pass me by and think of all your adventures.

You can be damn sure, I won’t ever forget you and I know that there are many, many others all around the world whose lives you touched who feel just like I do tonight.

Rest Peacefully, Paul, and know that you have made more of a difference than you could ever, ever know.

paul
The Seashore of Love

 

 

 

That Inward Eye

Daffodils

The mere sight of daffodils brings me back to those precious evenings from January to September in 2010 when Father and I chatted, laughed, drank tea,  listened to music, sat in companionable silence and enjoyed poetry together.

As he drifted off to sleep I would always return  to William Wordsworth’s The Daffodils  and without fail Father would join in with me when I reached the last stanza:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

There is much that flashes upon our inward eyes but some things linger there as our anchors of love.

Oh Stanny Boy!

I don’t know a lot about saints but St. Valentine doesn’t seem to have the same rapport with animals as St. Francis.

My big plan last night was to cuddle up with her on the stroke of midnight after she’d been to that Valentine’s Eve concert of that Right guy she’s been swooning around the place about for the last ages.

Everything seemed to be going perfectly especially when I heard her getting out of the car humming something about Love is in the air …..

She came in all hazy eyed and barely said ‘hello,’ even when I gazed up at her trying to catch her full attention. That’s just not like her at all, at all. Next, she starts waltzing around with a cup of tea singing this song:

For a minute, I thought it was Stanny Boy and my little heart missed a beat but alas … and she waltzed on up to bed.

I’m delighted to tell you that she’s back to normal today and we had a lovely walk in the woods this morning. It was all green and gorgeous and we were just plain happy:

Love Light in my Eye
Love Light in my Eye

See, I think I AM Mr. Right after all!

P.S. I realise now that the other guy spells his name with a W. Does that make him Mr. Wrong?

 

 

 

 

 

I Want To Surprise Her!

Woof Everyone,

It’s two years today that I came to live here in Tramore. I was only 9 weeks old and Jean and Harry came allllll the way to the heart of Co. Wexford (that makes me a Yellow Belly) to get me. Well, they didn’t know it was me they were getting ‘cos there were five of us pups still waiting for homes.

We were all ‘love’ puppies. Our mama was a a golden cocker spaniel and our dada was a liver and white springer spaniel. Our mama was very, very pretty and was a champion show dog and often had puppies with other cocker spaniels. But she was in love with my dada who lived on the same farm and they decided that they wanted to have a family of their very own.

Funny enough, none of us looked like our parents. The others were all black and white and I was the only all black puppy. I knew I had a good chance of being picked by Jean because I heard the boss talking to her on the phone and saying that there was only one totally black pup in the litter.

It was dark when they arrived and I was all nervous. The boss brought them out to our shed and shone a torch down at us. I didn’t know what to do so I stood a bit back from the others and pricked my spaniel ears.

Harry immediately said: ‘Him, he’s lovely.’ He picked me up and petted me and then handed me to Jean. I clung onto her coat and tried to melt her eyes. I could feel her heart beating very fast and then I saw a little tear trickle down her cheek. (I didn’t know then that she was totally heartbroken and missing her precious Sophie who had  died only 10 days before. Getting me had been all Harry’s idea ‘cos he couldn’t bear to see her so upset.) I knew I had won her over when she stroked my ears with as much love as any puppy could ever want.

My First Time on a Cliff!
My First Time on a Cliff!

And puppies do want love; everyone wants love and that way the world can spin around in a twirl of happiness like a puppy running after his tail.

You hear about ‘a fly on the wall.’ Well, I’m a ‘puppy under the table’ and I see and hear everything that’s going on. BUT, I don’t ‘love and tell.’ That’s one tip my dada gave me when I was saying goodbye to him that night.

I was kinda surprised to be called Stan ~ but now I know the whole story. I’m called after Stan Wawrinka, the tennis player who had just won the Australian Open in 2014.

My Namesake, 'Stan' Wawrinka
My Namesake, ‘Stan’ Wawrinka : Source:  Wikipedia

If I’d been got today, I’d definitely have been called Leighton, after Leighton Hewitt who played his last match today after a great career. Poor Jean was sobbing when he gave his farewell speech. I don’t think ‘Leighton’ would be a great name for me, though. It’s a bit of a mouthful and very grown-up sounding.

Two years has flown by ~ I often wonder about my brothers and sisters and how they’re doing and, of course, I miss my mama and dada. I hope they are still as madly in love as ever.

But, I wouldn’t change anything for the world, except maybe running up to the very top of the cliffs in Kilfarrasy the other week. I’m not the better of that yet and have nightmares about never being able to get back safe. I knew Jean loved me long before that day but I saw absolute love in her eyes when I eventually found a way back to the car. She didn’t even give out to me but just cuddled me like no other cuddle I’ve ever got and I was soaking and covered in rubble from the cliff face. We haven’t been back there since.

So, I’d best go and see if she’ll take me for a celebration walk, even though it’s raining. I’ve a feeling she will!

Happiness is ...
Happiness is …

Night all and Sweetest Dreams!

Love Stanny.

P.S. I love you, Jean, and I’m the lucky one, not you!

P.P.S. Good luck in The Austrialian Open, Stan W. You can do it!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Love, Love and More Love

Love

This Post Comes with a Warning for Lovers

There are times poems take me over. Usually they have more than eight words but this little one, included in Penguin’s Poems for Love, has had me turning myself inside out for days and days now

What Love is Like

Love is like
a pineapple
sweet and
undefinable

(Piet Hein)

It has caused me to see pineapples in a whole new light. I’ve spent hours trying and failing to take photographs of their thick skins and juicy flesh. I’ve been luxuriating in their deep scent, making smoothies with them, grazing on them, caressing them in shops and wanting to recite the poem to everyone in sight.

I’d never, ever had thought of love being like a pineapple. At least, I thought I wouldn’t have. If I’d had to pick a fruit, I’d say it would have been grapes, apples or, maybe, passion fruit.

Now, I’m hooked on pineapples.

Go on, tell me which fruit, vegetable or anything else you would substitute for ‘pineapple.’