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Deborah Calla


The Difference Between My Dog And Me

Posted: 10/28/09 12:48 PM ET

When I leave my house my dog sits outside my office door and waits for me.  He sees me go out the front door but he goes outside in the backyard, where my office is, and sits by my locked door.  He does that because during the day that’s where I always am, and in his mind he can’t understand where else I could be.  I’m always there so I must be there.

I think people do the same thing when we lose someone.  Death is such a confusing experience.  One minute a person is part of our lives and then in the next they are gone -- leaving a huge hole in our lives. How to make sense of it?  Not in a religious or spiritual way but in a visceral, physical way? Not possible. So we go to the places where the person we lost used to exist and look for traces of them.  We sit outside their doors and hope somehow they are inside.

All of us who have lost partners wonder how we’re going to live without our loved ones.  How do we sit at a table to eat -- where they used to sit across from us -- and stare at an empty chair?  How do we get pleasure out of watching the plants grow when that had been a project we had together? No simple answer except that somehow we do or somehow we must because just like in my dog’s case no matter how long we wait, our “person” won’t mysteriously materialize. They now occupy a different realm in our lives and it is a hard transition for us left behind because we know that each step we take forward becomes one step away from our “person”.   New relationships, new jobs, new places are things without our history with our “person”. 

But life is a gift even with all its trials; just ask anyone fighting for theirs now.   

I know my psyche holds less despair than it did fourteen months ago. The love and the longing have not diminished, only the desperation. And as my life continues to exist I keep looking for ways to appreciate more each day and not give way to things that are not that important. 

I would say that from being married to Chris, my “person”, I have learned to love and respect myself. And from his loss I have learned to live in the moment -- to understand the real meaning of compassion. 

So there are many differences between my dog and me, but the major one is that my dog will always be outside my door waiting for me while I instead of waiting outside Chris’ door I’m hoping to honor him with a life well lived.


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