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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Finding the Silver Lining

My big, beautiful house is empty now ... too empty.

One of my dogs died last October at 15 years old. About the same time, my other dog was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. She had to be euthanized just two weeks ago due to uncontrollable seizures. A few days after that, my 20-year-old daughter moved out to get an apartment with her boyfriend.

I am a quiet, private person. I value my privacy, and I've never had a problem being alone. I have always kept busy, either with household chores, yard work or volunteering. But I no longer volunteer with either of the non-profit groups I had helped on a regular basis for two years or more. I still take care of the house and the yard, but doing chores really isn't a fulfilling way to spend my days. I seldom feel bored, but that is exactly how I have felt the past couple of weeks -- bored and lost.

I know this feeling of  emptiness is only temporary. My travels will break up the boredom, and I am getting used to coming home to an empty house. And already, I am looking at adoptable dogs on the Internet. It may not be time to adopt just yet, but I know the time will come.

I also know that sometimes it takes these periods of darkness to make us appreciate the good times. If the sun was always shining, we would be less likely to appreciate a sunny day. If it always rained,  we wouldn't appreciate the rain when it falls.

Periods of darkness can offer an opportunity to learn -- about oneself and about the things we truly value. This isn't to say that I enjoy feeling sad and lost. It does, however, challenge me to find the positive in the situation. For example, after my dog died, I missed her terribly. Then I remembered a folder of photos on my computer. I looked through the pictures, pulled out my favorites, and posted them on my Facebook page. I shared with my friends pictures of Tia enjoying her life:
leaping into the air for a ball my daughter was holding, running through the yard, rolling in the grass, sleeping in the sun, wearing a wig and sunglasses. These pictures reminded me that while I missed Tia terribly, I could look back on her life and see how happy she was. We gave her 5-1/2 years of love and happiness, after she spent seven years in a puppy mill. I am sad that she suffered for so long, but grateful that she knew love.

I hope the feelings of sadness and loss are gone for a long time. But when they inevitably return, I hope I remember that inside each dark cloud there is, indeed, a silver lining.