Monday, July 26, 2010
IN LOVING MEMORY
"We are who we are as much because of our relationships with non-human animals as because of the human ones, and we do ourselves a great disservice - and probably great harm - by denying or ignoring this."
~Anthony L. Podherscek
A friend died last Thursday. He shall be missed. The twinkle in his blue eyes, the look of pure joy and love, as he sat in his wheelchair and saw Kelsie coming to visit him in the hospital. He taught me that the greatest challenges that life throws at us are but stepping stones, and no matter what, we must never give up hope and perhaps more importantly, we must never stop loving.
Life isn't always fair, or pretty. But when you are loved, deeply loved, that is pretty much all that is necessary and all that there needs to be. I had another friend a few years ago who told me that in this lifetime there are many people who never experience the joy of being loved deeply. And when they are, for however brief a period of time, they have been blessed. I had a hard time with that, for pain is pain, and grief is grief. And the absense of something so beautiful, precious, and rare makes its absense so much more difficult to bear. But you know the saying, "It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all."
"Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.
These two men taught me as Leo Buscaglia said, "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."
My friend that left this earth last week had had a series of strokes. He was aphasic. The words from his mouth were gibberish, but his smile, his eyes, his intense love of all golden retrievers and his undying love for his wife were his words and his legacy. The last time I saw him he was in the hospital where Penny's From Heaven's therapy dog training classes are held. He had been wheeled to the gym by his wife to observe the dogs in action. There are few times, I must admit that I can be distracted, but this was one of them. He and his wife sat holding hands and there could have been no doubt that this couple, married for decades, were as in love this day as they were on the day they married. For them there was no one else and no where else.
As they held hands it was clear that their hearts were, and will always remain, locked together. I envied them at that moment and do still. I'm sure he never knew what a gift his brief presence in my life meant. I am a better person for having known him.
"When you carry out acts of kindness you get a wonderful feeling inside. It is as though something inside your body responds and says, yes, this is how I ought to feel."
So today, this week, let go of the petty aggravations that we so often allow to consume us. Remember that time when you were loved and cherished and hold on tight to that memory. For it is in that place and time that you found the meaning of life.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF RAY HILDEBRAND