Once again in a most unexpected way it is words from a stranger on Facebook that someone shared to my feed that has caused me to take pause and reevaluate my psychological outlook and my interpretation of the most painful events of my life that have transpired starting in childhood, culminating with the death of my last borzoi in 2019. It was a long run on tragedies and I have been beaten down by them, almost to nothing, Yet am very physically strong and resilient beyond anything one should expect to be able to do. Yet here I am still standing if not shattered and shaken to my core. How sad it is to have had to live through these tribulations, most of which were unnecessary. I was not alone in my misery, it was due to profound parental dysfunctionality resulting in our suffocation, and all of my siblings endured the pain with me, none coming out any better for the experience. It threw us into odd directions as adults, along tangents that could never intersect, leaving us lonely and alone forever. In my untouchable wretchedness, God, and my husband, Bob, gave me my borzoi. The year was 2003. By January 2005, the jewel of the kennel, my most beloved Opal (Raybo Opalesque of Byss) arrived. I never saw, nor have ever seen, such an exquisite creature, Nor had I ever loved anything more than I did her, canine or human. She was the daughter I never had. My great love was reciprocated in kind and then some. But perfect bliss was not to be for I am me, and by 19 months she had passed away from an obscure, rare congenital disease. Breeding is not a straight line. The event took place fourteen and a half years ago but it is like fourteen minutes. I ruminate, I cry, I grieve, I write, I speak of her and of my never failing love and the loss I suffered by losing her. I know it is wrong but I could not help how I felt. Fourteen years of grief wrestled me down and I am drowning. I have almost died of grief related issues by becoming anorexic and having cancer twice in seven years. Opal wasted and so have I. I have longed to be where she is. Life is not livable for me without her. I needed her spirit to keep me going but it is gone, and has been gone a long time now.
However, today presented me with something that perhaps made me see it another way, and perhaps made me realize I was wrong. Opal is the best thing I ever had, and the best thing that ever happened to me. It was put this way by a writer, Elizabeth Ammons, from Lessonslearnedinlife.com. She writes as follows, and it appeared in my Facebook feed on December 2, 2020:
“You can shed tears because they are gone, or you can smile because they lived.
You can close your eyes and pray they will come back, or you can open your eyes and see all that they left for you.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see them, or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday, or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember only that they are gone, or you can cherish their memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind and feel empty, or you can do what they would want.
Smile…. Open your heart…. Love…. And go on.”
These are words I need to read, study and hear. My grief of 14 years diminishes Opal. I should celebrate her. Her memoir, and that of all my borzoi, should bring me joy, not make me wish for my death. Yes, she is gone, as are they, but in time we will be together again as if no time had separated us. I must have more faith in destiny. My ugly childhood is over. My borzoi loved me unconditionally and gave me back my happiness, or perhaps gave me a measure of happiness I never had. I hope my story touches others who grieve and cannot be comforted, or others who know the hell of a childhood devoid of love.