Category Archives: Grief

The days after Easter at Blyss

It was just Easter on Sunday, and on Saturday, I spent the day with my son and his wife at the home of his wife’s parents with the baby, my grand-daughter, Piper Starling.  It was a fun day because  I got to hold the baby a lot, and she likes me to hold her.  In addition to that, many people have commented that of everyone there, she resembled me the most, even some Facebook friends commented on the resemblance.  She is very verbally precocious and charming.  My son made a delicious leg of lamb, and I bought a very special decorated cake for Easter in the shape of an Easter egg from the very creative, upscale bakery in Summit, Natale’s.  On Sunday, I was invited to an Easter dinner with my sister and her family, including her son Logan, who happens to be my God-son, whom I love very much.  I had not seen Logan in about two years due to the COVID quarantine.  It was a lot of emotional stimulation and excitement for one weekend.

I posted pictures from both days on Facebook, happy pictures and posts.  I have not been well since my sudden, forced separation from my last boyfriend of one year on Valentine’s Day weekend.   Last week would have been our first anniversary of meeting face-to-face, a joyous occasion, allowing us to be in quarantine together.  I have to ask myself why I am such a loser in my relationships with men.  It is the ruination of my happiness and my life.  I wish it would just end and be over because I cannot take the pain and the loneliness anymore.  The last one swore we would be forever so I am shaken to the core this time.  He has since ghosted me.   I don’t know how someone does that.

But I have my beloved Kensey, who makes me very happy.  She is always there for me with her emotional support.  Moreover, I will be attending the spring dog shows, both locally on the first weekend in May, and in Ohio, where the Borzoi Club of America will be holding its specialty show during the last week of May.  These are reasons for joy.  I will be among friends and their borzoi, and being happy.  I will see many people whom I only see at this show, and it will warm my heart.

If only my boyfriend had not abandoned me in February, this could have been such a happy time.   He is a hard hearted person, one has to have a heart of stone to act the way he acts, knowing how much I loved him.  But we can only be who we are, and that is who he is.  People do what they want to do.  He needs to be free of the ties that bind in a relationship whereas I need to be held close and loved. And I still love him so much I could die of it.

Remembering Bob and Opal at Blyss

This month, March, is the tenth anniversary of my husband, Bob’s, death.  I find myself recalling him a great deal, what we were doing when we learned he was sick, and how little time we had left together, of  how he was robbed.  He had another great love in his life, greater than his for me, that being his two sons.  They were just entering adult life when he died.  He did not see them grow into young men, get married, and have children of their own.  I think he would have truly enjoyed that.  I believe he would have found the thrilling bliss in that that I found with the borzoi, although he did love his borzoi, too.  For me, I learned I never really knew what love was, never having had it growing up as a child.

My childhood was an ordeal of survival behind enemy lines, with parents ruling the house like they were Gestapo agents, imprisoning their children, ruling them with what can only be described as a rule book that grew thicker with every passing day.

Their favorite adages were: Spare the rod, spoil the child; and, You should only kiss your children when they are asleep.  They did not notice that their three children were growing up despising them and being totally self destructive.  They were too busy being angry all the time, with one another, and their offspring.    Somehow, sadly, we survived.

I understand Bob had a happy childhood, with laid back and easy going parents.  He, and all his siblings, always appeared to have smiles on their faces.  My siblings and I were profoundly emotionally disturbed, and did not wear smiles well.  We looked rather ghoulish with smiles on our faces, so we practiced looking in mirrors trying to look intelligent or serious instead.  It seems particularly sad that  I, who am so damaged, am left alive while Bob had to die ten years ago.  I feel so sorry for him that he had to miss so much happy, quality, family time.    I know how precious it is, but I had to learn about it from borzoi.

Borzoi taught me about love, human love.  I thought I loved Bob when I married him, but I had been made too damaged by my mother to be able to love anyone again.  It was fun and easy to love the borzoi.  When I look back at my old photographs with them, I don’t recognize myself.  I look so healthy, and am always beaming in a huge smile I cannot diminish.  In January, 2005, we  bought Opal.  I became manic with joy.  Eighteen months later she died, and I crashed into a devastating depression and have never been the same again.  I cannot forget what I lost when she died, my greatest loss, my heart itself, my joy that only she brought me.   I have read accounts like this by  other people sometimes on FB, not often, because usually people have multiple borzoi and the others help the owner get over the loss.  However, sometimes, a kennel will have one of those very extraordinary borzoi that transcends who and what it is, and when the owner writes about it, I recognize and understand what has happened to them.

Somehow, I am learning to love and smile, because I have grown from that place.  In the process, I have learned that Opal made a difference in my life, by enabling me, after almost 15 years, me to experience love and joy again.  I do not mourn her, I celebrate her, every day.  I was the luckiest person in the world to have had her.  I believe we will be reunited upon my death.  Opal is my definition of heaven.  Someday, when she comes up to me and looks up, and then hit me with her paw, like she used to, then, she will never be far away again.

“They call me Mimi but my name is Lucia….”

I have been having a busy week.  I had my six month checkup for my lung cancer surgery last September, with a CAT-Scan with contrast media, and follow up with the surgeon.  I am very aware that breathing is a different experience for me, and not for the better, but I am adjusting.  I even gained five pounds, which is a significant for me.

My chronic anorexia, and the experience of being inexplicably abandoned by someone who swore his love and commitment to me, only to be followed up by  ghosting me, made the recovery almost impossible.  Without love, it took away my strength to recover, and my will to live.  But I am made of tougher stuff and survived in spite of it.

Today is very early spring, and I have reason for optimism and looking ahead.   I am attaching a photo of my son and my grand-daughter, Piper Starling Connolly, who visited me a week ago, making me very happy.  Kensie is standing by my side, where she can always be found.

I am reminded of Mimi’s aria in Act. 1 of the opera, La Boheme, set in Paris, my favorite city in the world.   I would like to share it as an ode to spring for all of us, and to my own victory over death and despair. Mimi is forced to face her own mortality by the end of Act 3, as shall we all.  But in Act I, there is flirting, laughter, and the hope that only comes in spring.  Find it on YouTube to listen to the beautiful melody.  The words follow:

“They call me Mimi, but my name is Lucy.

I embroider flowers, roses and lilies on silk.

I am peaceful and happy; it is my pass time.

I like these things.  They have so sweet a smell,

They speak of love, of spring, of chimera, these things

That have poetic names….. do you understand me?

Yes, they call me Mimi, why, I do not know….

Alone, I make my lunch for myself,

I do not always go to mass.

But I pray a lot to the Lord.

I live alone and cook for myself.  Alone….

But when the thaw comes, the first sun is mine!

The first kiss of April is mine!

Rose buds in a vase, leaf and buds

I watch them.  The flowers I make,

They do not have an odor

Rose buds in a vase,

Leaf by leaf, I watch it

The gentle perfume of a flower!

But the flowers I make

Ah me, they do not have any odor!

About me, I would not know how to tell.

I am only your neighbor come to bother you!”

From Act I of the Italian opera La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini

Libretto: Giuseppe Giacosa

I would like to think it is getting better at Blyss with Kensey

Today, I awoke slowly.  Over the weekend, it was time to turn the clocks ahead so we are in “Daylight Savings Time”, that gives us more sunlight in the afternoon and evening.  That gives me time to give my dog a second or third walk in the late afternoon or after dinner.  It is usually the warmer time of year, so I am out more, working in my garden or talking to the passers by, or my neighbors.  My home, and home town, are particularly conducive to this.  All I have to do is get up and live and I find myself enjoying the idyllic surroundings with which I am blessed.

I have been more blessed in past times because I had lived with several borzoi, as many as five or six at a time.  That is a memory bourgeoning with bliss running over, especially when our litter was born. Then my last husband, Bob, was alive.   Bob, who was taken from me almost violently, was ravaged by pancreatic cancer at the age of 56, ten years ago this week in 2021.  I came across some photos this weekend during happy times, in particular, the time of our wedding in 2000.  We looked so happy.  I declared myself  a “Millenium Bride”! looked so amazingly beautiful and young.  I do not look that way anymore.  The last twenty years have been cruel.  I have had cancer twice, and lived through the ravages of two nervous breakdowns.  Sadly, I recovered and did well on my own after Bob was gone, and missed him terribly, knowing we would have been happy together again, but it was too late.  Following his passing, I have just endured ten years of bitter loneliness as I have dated one loser, liar, basket case cripple after another, looking for love.  I am a woman who craves human love, never having had it as a child.

Today, I am no longer able to keep borzoi, I am just too frail from  having lost so much weight during my illnesses.   I am still active, however, in my clubs, I participate in Meet the Breeds when it is in NY City, and I am an active member of the Borzoi Club of America. However, I have ventured into the world of Silken Windhounds and I am currently living with the irresistible “Kensie”, from the Wind ‘n Satin Kennel of Mary Childs in Ohio.  A more precious creature with a princess attitude cannot be found.  She is loved and adored by all who meet her.  She knew instantly I was her person and what her job was.  She is a jewel of a dog, so much like a borzoi in every way, just half the size.  I will admit, she does not have the “drama” of a borzoi, but in every way, she is  just perfect.  I was profoundly depressed when she came.  My maintenance medications were all increased, and with her presence in the home, and the structure caring for another living creature creates in your life, I began to feel better quickly.  The same thing that would have made me happy as a child makes me happy as an elderly woman today.

Blyss Poetry….. a rarer than rare artform but still here

My world as I knew it for some time now was shattered by some traumatic news from a friend, no, a man I believed in.   The end result was him asking me not to contact him anymore.   No explanation was given, just that.

I had so much I wanted to say, yet that option was denied.  I was in enormous emotional pain.  I guess I brought it upon myself, I just don’t know how.  I have no one else to blame.  Unable to write to him, yet having so much to say, I remembered he is a Facebook “Friend”, still!  I posted messages to him and about him and for him on my public page, knowing he would read them.  They are my poems,  so I am saving them here.

Although many other Facebook Friends  reacted with concern,  the gentleman remained silent.  Perhaps he was never a  friend.  I can’t seem to keep my love life from crashing and burning around me.  My only loyal loves have been with my dogs since 2002, especially my borzoi, and also my Black Lab, and now my Silken, Kenzie.  And that makes me glad, they are so much more worthy of my love than  they ever were.

In the ten years I have been a widow, I have been surprising how many  men have been turned off by me having dogs.  True, I had multiple, very large dogs, and men can’t handle that kind of competition.  And, I will always put my dogs before any  man, and my passion for them, the borzoi breed in particular, dog shows, breeding, the whole thing, before any man.  My life revolves around my passion for dogs, my borzoi, and now my Silken Windhound, Kensie.  It is how I deal with my pain.  It is a lot for a man to compete with.  Where I succeed with dogs, I fail with men.  My poems, unedited words from my soul, follow.

*************************************************************

So easy to love

So hard to lose

Come back.

*************************************************************

Today is a wintry cold day in March

Soon it will be spring again to bring me joy

And maybe hearts will heal.

But for now, only lonely,

A heart dies slowly in place

One day at a time.

 

Finding wisdom on Facebook for Blyss

I am frequently amazed by the truly great pieces of writing that end up in my Facebook feed.  It is as if the writer were sitting there in the room with me and looking deep into my very heart and knows exactly how I feel and expresses it with perfect clarity.  So it is with the writing of  Stephanie Bennett-Henry, especially one particular post, that I will share on my own blog, here that she posted on August 2,2015:

“I want the weirdos, the clumsy, fumbling, awkward ones  who call themselves a big mess.  That’s where it’s at.  Give me the one whose eyes are colored with shades of madness.  Throw me in a room with the loners, the ones who never found their place.  Sit me down at the table with the dreamers, the ones who feel with their eyes and see with their hearts.  Surround me with the extraordinary souls who inhale passion through their fingertips and exhale creativity from masterpieces in their bones.  I want to dance with the ones who will break their own hearts because they only know how to love too hard or not at all.  Build a path with the pieces of the broken ones.  I will follow the trail and carry each piece back to its owner, showing them the stained glass pieces of their beautiful, broken magnificence.”

Stephanie Bennett-Henry. Copyrighted.

So yes, there is dignity and loss in defeat.  There must be, be some positive dimension for humans since it is so ubiquitous and it does not kill us, it just keeps coming.  Is this a realistic interpretation of the human condition, flailing around, coming up short, losing everything, “dying” even, when you are still very much alive?  I am a master at surviving deaths.  I have had several reincarnations: surviving my childhood, surviving my first and second marriages, and coping with the tragedies that befell my kennel.  First, a puppy died unexpectedly.  I had forgotten puppies died, as I was so focused on breeding them and on their subsequent arrivals!   After, the puppies from my only litter were sent far away by my co-breeder, the one I got to keep was very sickly his first two years of life and was not emotionally sound.  This was challenging and I was focused on these events more than it was warranted until the punishing hand of God delivered its final blow: taking my darling husband, prematurely young, from cancer.  The only mercy to the story was it was swift.

My dreams of an adult life, happily married with a child and a houseful of dogs, Llewellyn English Setters come to mind since I did not know what borzoi were then,  a show kennel and horses in a pasture,  and never at a loss for love, was a bitter delusion that I never stopped pursuing long after it was feasible.  I pursue it still, and I am a very old woman.

And there lays my psychosis.  It is what places me in the room with the eyes colored with shades of madness, thrown in a room with loners who never found their place, who feel with their eyes  see with their hearts.  And yes, I have wanted to “dance” with the ones I knew would break my heart because they, too were flawed and could not love, so like my parents before them.  My life is lived on a path of broken stones and every step is painful.  But I see no magnificent stained glass portrait of myself to hang in the window to catch the sun and celebrate my life.  I am in a very dark place. The pieces of my life lie on the ground like broken stones, and an urn will hold my ashes in a mausoleum when I die.

A voice in cyberspace resonates at Blyss

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.

 

 

At Blyss, at home, everywhere: walking to death.

I feel like  how a dog from the past must have felt trying to enter England, in a long, seemingly endless quarantine.  But no, I am a human being in the USA and I never left home.  I just cannot go out anywhere safely.  To be safe, I must stay home and be alone.  However, walking around town is allowed if safe social distancing of six feet is maintained.  Still, that does not satisfy my never ending gnawing need for intimacy.  With so much time on my hands and because I am so good at procrastinating leaving my lawn not mowed and my flower beds not weeded, I have decided to write on my blog at Blysskennels.us tonight.  I have been procrastinating writing on my Blog, too, showing how bad I have really been and how low my spirits have sunk.

Walking to Death

April 7, 2020

I am told it is a remedy, but tell me,

What is it that I see on my walks that makes for improvement?

It began in mid March and now it is early April.  Hateful spring.

No one knows when it will end.  It could be a very long time from now.

Although it remains cold and windy from winter,

I see there are splashes of color now: yellows and pinks, from flowering bushes and trees,

Breaking through.  I contemplate them.  They bring a hope or sorts

Having seen only grey, dark branches for so long that appeared to be dead.

It was an illusion, I thought, that this was a death of the flora, on the shrubs, on the flowering trees, and especially on the mountain.

Do I see a tiny splash of green there?  I am not sure…..

I know it will be there soon,

And then there will be the miracle of  tiny white Dogwood blossoms scattered among the green

Where they were once abundant…before their own virus came for them.

We live in the day of viruses, and all we can do is walk to death.

Walk them off, walk them away,

Walk them until we tire, walk them until we die.

Walk them with our children, walk them with our dogs,

Walk them with our friends, with our fathers, with our mothers and with our lovers.

How can there be so many places to walk to and so many places to walk from,

And learn so many people’s stories along the way that don’t do anyone any good

For each and every one has one, a story that is

And not about the virus that always lurks behind us now taking souls away.

 

Another day: Blyss Kennels values for “New World for the USA”

Here we are now, in new days for our country and the world.  It’s  been about three weeks now, and it still feels all wrong.  Many people have a point and are right, even though they have opposing view points.  Many people have died, many unfairly.  Any life lost to violence is a sorrow and pains me deeply.  Life is to be cherished and celebrated.  Every person is a members of the human family, and one person’s joy is all of our joy, as another person’s sorrow is all of our sorrow. Living together in harmony, sparing the use of defamation and striving for consensus is how  people should come together to resolve differences.  The current American President fails to accomplish these skills that could “unite” the multitudinous masses that comprise America and  disparate points of view, thereby only deepening the divisiveness growing dangerously wide in America.  Even Generals and great military men of our day are apologizing for showing unity with their Commander in Chief, which he accomplished.  He wanted a photo op of himself holding a bible – it was upside down by the way – in front of St. John’s National Cathedral where he does not worship – which he got.  It had the effect of boomeranging on him, making him look evil.  Where does this stop, I ask you?

If you are me, it stops in gardens, working in them, on them, or  simply admiring them.  It also includes  surrounding yourself with a pack of really huge and gorgeous dogs, like, did I say borzoi?  So, in January, I bought a Silken Windhound, although I really wanted another pair of borzoi.  It is she, Kensie, who makes visits to formal gardens or fields of wildflowers, or in expansive meadows, or taking long walk together on winding roads that were once forests on the side of a  mountain  and probably should have stayed that way, even though I have lived here on four of those separate roads over the past 70 years.  I also cheat by thinking I make new friends by getting into impromptu conversations with people who complement Kensie on these walks because of her exquisite and unusual beauty.  I did not plan to get another dog after my last borzoi, Jelly, died last May.

Today, suffering permeates into the invisible fiber of society, unable to be seen.  And, it is just not “there” to be observed by voyeuristic people who want to watch others suffer because it energizes them. The voyeurs will suffer, too.  No one will be truly energized by this suffering because it is 100% toxic.  Like the COV-19 virus, it is in our DNA now and it will take no prisoners.  No one is  free of it.  Moreover, as  the current, elected President fails to represent his people, Americans, nature hates a vacuum, and a charismatic leader will emerge to correct that mistake.  I tremble.

I conclude we need our animals,  wild flower meadows, and our gardens more than ever today!  However,  there was a time when grand words were written and sung by those of  my generation, and they may speak to us today.  Let me share a ballad written in honor of a true peace music festival, written by a Canadian song writer of the highest caliber, Joni  Mitchell and sung by her closest friends, David Crosby, Steven Stills, Graham Nash, and Niel Young, also a Canadian.

Woodstock.

… We are stardust, we are golden

We are fifty year old carbon

And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

Maybe it is the time of year

Maybe it is the time of man

I don’t know who I am but life is for learning.

We are stardust, we are golden

We are fifty year old carbon

And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

By the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong

Everywhere there was song and celebration

And I thought I saw the bombers turning shot gun in the sky

And they were turning into butterflies about our nation.

… We are stardust, we are golden

We are fifty year old carbon

And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

Joni Mitchell.

 

The Blyss Dream that many will not understand.

Found this on Facebook Sunday, May 31, 2020. I did not create this poetic essay, but I modified it to make it more suited to myself. I found it so appropriate to me. It rang true. I shared it with my Facebook friends and thought I would place my edited version here.
I edited it to more accurately described my unique experience with my own dogs.

THE DREAM THAT MANY WILL NOT UNDERSTAND:

 My Dogs are my personal dream.

 One day when I am very old and when I can not walk anymore, it will be in my heart as a trophy of my memories.

 I met people who taught me something and have the same spirit as I, and I met others that I’m glad I forgot.

 I got wet,

 I felt cold,

I felt warm,

 I was afraid,

 I fell,

 And I stood up,

 I even hurt myself, I have been broken,

 But also, I laughed out loud inside .

 I spoke a thousand times with myself.

 I sang and shouted with joy like a madman,

 And yes … sometimes I cried.

 I have seen wonderful places and lived unforgettable experiences.

 I stopped a thousand times to see a landscape.

 I spoke with perfect strangers, and I forgot people I see every day.

 I went out with my demons inside and returned home with a feeling of absolute peace in my heart.

 I always thought how dangerous it is, knowing that the meaning of courage is to advance even when feeling fear.

 Every time I go out with my dogs, I think about how wonderful they are.

 I stopped talking about it to those who do not understand, and I learned to communicate with others who feel the same as I.

 I have met some amazing people I now call friends from all over this big world because of my dogs.

 I spent money that I did not have, giving up many things I wanted or needed, but all these things are not worth even one special moment with my dogs.

 They are not just a pet or a thing that I own, they are the lost part of my soul and my spirit.

 And when someone says to me: “It’s just a dog”,… I do not answer. I just walk away and smile,

 A dog….. only the person who loves them understands it.

 May God bless my friends and all their dogs….

 And the adventure continues. .

 FEEL FREE TO COPY AND STICK THE TEXT WITH A PHOTO, ON YOUR WALL …