Pets and laughter filled much of my early life. My hamster, Goldie, died from old age. My cat, Tom, wouldn’t give birth to her kittens until she placed her head in my lap. Cats, dogs, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, mice, fish, and tortoises. I’ve had them all and laughed with each of them.
Or I did.
It stopped twenty years ago with the birth of my son. He was asthmatic and highly allergic to pet dander. When the time came to choose between him and my cat, the cat was sacrificed. It broke my heart but it was necessary.
Pets were mostly absent from my life in subsequent years. Coincidentally, in those subsequent years, my life grew darker. Not all at once – the days raising my son will always be treasured by me. But there was an inexorable drift to the Black. Would a pet have helped? Especially on those days after my marriage ended? So much time spent alone with my personal demons. Questions without answer.
Then came September 2014 and my suicide attempt. For a brief time after, a pet was a part of my life again.
My parents tried to help me, but they were limited in how they could do that, mostly because they didn’t know what to do. They did their best for me and for that I’m forever grateful.
But it was their pet, Tuffy, who had a most profound effect on my healing.
The night of my arrival at my parent’s home, my home, I took Tuffy out for our first walk together. It was a typical September night, cool yet bright. We walked around the block and in that walk cemented a brief friendship. I guided him gently and he gave me comfort.
When we got home, I rewarded him with a treat and we began to play. I lay on the floor, staying at his level, and teased him and played tug-of-war with him. We played fetch too. All innocent, hearty fun. I’m not sure but I might have laughed. Certainly, there was a lot of laughter in our play in the days, weeks, and months that followed. It ended when I moved.
Laughter was, prior to this, alien to me, lost, like so much of who I once was. Its return helped me to heal. The play opened the door to recovery.
Still, I don’t have my own pet (I don’t have the financial means to support that additional life) so while healing continued, the laughter grew infrequent. And that’s where things stayed. Laughter recovered but dormant, healing stilted and in progress.
This changed when I met a friend from Twitter, April. April became a treasured friend.
Meeting her meant that I met Ty, her small dog. I’ve spent many days playing with him when I visit. Laughter has returned, though not with the same freedom as before. I’ve lost something there. I’m not sure how to recover it.
Ty has reminded me of the value of having a pet, or pets, a friend you can laugh with, a companion. He’s instilled in me a greater desire to have my own pet, someone who can comfort me, love me unconditionally.
This means that I’m now slowly investigating how I can get my own pet, either by fostering or adopting. Soon.
Image by mordilla-net from Pixabay