The Pillowbook of Prudence…
Somewhere in one of the Chronicles of Eirie, there is a statement by a male protagonist about love and the corollary of loss. I wish I could remember where it is because I haven’t the inclination to flick through the pages of three novels to find the line.
I cannot imagine what provoked me to write such a line at that time, because in each of the writing phases of those novels there was no evident grief in my life. But this year has had a major loss with another approaching and as I try to rationalise it in my mind, the words ‘love and its corollary loss,’ spring up in clear black and white.
Love is a profoundly satisfying emotion. It is so very easy to take it for granted. It isn’t all bells, whistles, bouquets of white flowers and fireworks, pretty pictures and glasses of champagne. It is something much more subtle. It is contentment, calm and a sense of ease. And that is just with the animals that I choose to have as my pets. Love of human beings is a whole other thing and many a philosopher, psychoanalyst, playwright and poet has trodden that pathway before me.
I have had years of contented partnership, the basis of what I call love. And this year, it’s counterpart, loss, has cast a shadow over my state of being. But if I had never had seventeen years with the horse and fifteen years with the dog, what would I have missed out on? And would I not engage in such a mutually satisfying relationship again with more pets because it hurts so much now?
Every moment I share with my animals is a moment of unmitigated joy, of laughter, and hours of time in the great outdoors. They have been my companions in adventures that even now I can’t believe. Me? Did I do that? More to the point… did you, my horsey and doggy pets, do that?
So yes, there is loss… but it is worth it. So good have been the moments that the benefit is unquantifiable.
On this day in the middle of September, spring is bursting in my garden. It reminds me that there is renewal. As I look at the acid green of the silver birch leaves unfurling, or the quaint burgundy chequerboard pattern of the fritillaria petals as they unroll, as I plant the seeds in my vegetable garden, I am reminded that there is a cycle. That everything has its time and it is beautiful when it happens. But equally, I am reminded that there is a finite end to it… until the next cycle. And there is much comfort in its rhythm and repetitiveness.
And just quietly and with no bearing whatsoever on any of what I have said above, I would have those Pillowbook readers who know me, know also that whilst others might be purchasing black for their wardrobes, in the spirit of happiness, I have acquired palest aqua, pale lilac and bright orange for mine.
Yes, it’s very bittersweet with a pet; you love them and care for them, only to let them go in the end. I had to put down Lance, my little Pomeranian of almost 17 years last year. He was my first pet, so I understand. *hugs to you*
Bittersweet. Also a word I used in A Thousand Glass Flowers and the name of the deepest blue/mauve flower. Perfect word judiang, thanks for reminding me. Oldest dog is still with us, but we are counting down very rapidly. He has rabid cancer. No pain, but the end is nigh.
I subscribe to Robert Genn’s newsletters, and in one he said something like, “Every dog story begins with joy and ends with tears.” (I would add cats/bunny/horse/bird/people/etc., too.)
I’m with you. The tears are worth the joy.
Totally, Luann… worth every minute and every drop. Animals make us better human-beings, I think. I’m wondering when you might have beautiful dog-forms to add to your wonderful collection of ‘ancient’ artifacts. I am blown away by the sense of history you manage to create in your pieces.
Loss is always entwined closely with gratitude for the reasons that the loss means what it does. Hope that makes sense. It does to me.
Gratitude… of course. Thank you Simon. That actually helps.