Gratitude & Grief

Life is always a mixture of the bitter and the sweet, the dark and the light, the gratitude and grief.  I admit that I often focus on the bitter parts to the exclusion of all else.  That is in large part due to the fact that a large portion of my 20’s and almost all of my 30’s have been spent dealing with one crisis or another and, last year, dealing with death after death.  That, and the way that people treat you, tends to color one’s outlook on the world a bit.  Depression doesn’t help either.

That being said, this year is turning out to be one of the best in a long time.  Despite losing Bucky last week, things seem to be looking up for us.

Today, in particular, has been an odd culmination of genuine happiness and real grief.  Bucky’s passing still hangs about the house like a light silver veil.  At times I’m sure that I hear Scratch meowing with his voice.  At other times, I’m sure that Bucky is in the bathtub and so I reflexively pull back the shower curtain to check.

On Friday night at work I discovered that one of my favorite birds had departed this world, also on Tuesday.  He was a wonderful little old man owl who would sing little love songs with me.  He was permanently imprinted on humans and loved when we’d come to his cage to visit.  I could mimic him perfectly and so we’d coo and chirrup at one another while I was in the zoo working with other animals.  He was elderly and lived a long and wonderful life, but I grieve his loss and mourn for my friends who worked with him every single day and knew him so well.

On Saturday, after a superbly frustrating start to Riverfest, the day improved substantially.  I was selling, meeting amazing people, and having a generally good time.  Then I got the news that my friend and coworker lost her husband, also on Tuesday.  (What was up with Tuesday?)  There was a boating accident in Maine on Tuesday that made all the regional news.  I’d seen the story that morning as I was getting ready, but as they didn’t correctly state his name, I didn’t realize it was him.  Still, something about the broadcast didn’t sit right with me and it was in the back of my head all day.  He was 37.  I am heartbroken for her.  I’m not linking to any of the news stories about what happened to protect the privacy of the family.

Yesterday Geoff and I went to look at some houses.  We had lunch with Niki afterward and then dropped by her place to visit her kitties and play with her bearded dragon.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon, I had a delightful time with her dragon and kitties, and the open houses were… enlightening.  And, we fell in love with a house we won’t be able to put an offer in on, but it’s good to know that there are places like that out there.

Then, this morning, I came into work, and after a no show bus I still managed to make all of my connections on my alternate route in record time.  Things were pretty chill at the office and then one of my favorite coworkers, who I’d been chatting with about geeky things on Friday, came up.  We were talking and then he said, “Oh, yeah, I almost forgot.”  He went back to his cube and said, “Close your eyes and open your hand.”

For most people, this is when you demand to see what the person is hiding behind their back, but I trust this guy.  So I did it.  He gave me this.

My very own wand, people.
My very own wand, people.

He’s a very talented wood turner and we’d been talking about Harry Potter and Other Things Nerd and I had told him about how I’d once dressed up as, variously, a Death Eater and Hermione, for Halloween and how Geoff has a wooden wand and how it helped sell the bit/scare small children.  He said he’d made some before and had made one for his wife, etc.

This one is made of Walnut and Bloodwood and it is awesome and perfect and mine.  I was so happy I was dancing in my chair and squeeing and was totally embarrassing him.  Then I hugged him in thanks and I think he actually blushed.  I didn’t think he could do that.

Then one of my coworkers stopped by to pick up some reports I had finished on Friday and she said she had something for me.  She handed me this.

Yes, it's a small black and tan stuffed dachshund.
Yes, it’s a small black and tan stuffed dachshund.

She said she was out shopping with her boyfriend and saw it and thought of me.  Apparently it’s from this movie The Secret Life of Pets that’s coming out this summer.  And now I’m going to have to see it.  Because dachshund.  And, yes, that’s another stuffed dachshund next to it on my desk.  It’s from Ikea and it’s a chocolate and tan.  And it’s adorable, but it doesn’t look like Thumbelina and Dash.  But I don’t care, I have 2 dachshunds on my desk now.  This is as it should be.

Honestly, two people doing random nice things for me on the same day.  It was like the Universe had decided that my birthday was today.  (It’s later this month and I historically have terrible birthdays.)  I then went to see if my credit reports and scores had updated after I had resolved an error with Verizon last week.  They had, and my scores had gone up, way up.  This is super helpful when you’re trying to buy a house.

And so, I decided to celebrate today as my birthday.  I went out and got a tasty treat from Cosi and have been working since.  This day has been relaxing and I have been getting things done.

But it’s still bittersweet.  I think about all of the losses from last week and how life is still trudging on despite the fact that my friend, who is younger than I am, is now a widow.  Despite the fact that an animal I’d known for about a decade is gone, and that Bucky, who’d been in my life for nearly two decades, is gone, the sun is shining and it is a gorgeous day out.

And then I got an email from my friend James.  I haven’t seen him since he and his wife, Kim, married.  We’ve kept in intermittent contact over the years.  He saw my tweet about Bucky’s passing and wanted to reach out.  He and Kim are about to celebrate their 10 year wedding anniversary.  More happiness mixed with the sadness.

And so I go, off to write back to him.  To hear about the kids I haven’t met yet, the now 10 year old boxer, Cassius, and the life happening out there on the left coast.  I’ll write to tell about the hunt for a house, the sadness and the joy, and the gratitude and grief that balance out the days and keep us crying and laughing by turn, always trying to strike the balance between the dark and the light.


4 thoughts on “Gratitude & Grief”

  1. So glad that we could help make your dad a little brighter Kelly. Sorry for your loss, Bucky sounded like such a sweet kitty. ❤

    Since I will not be in town on your birthday:
    Happy Birthday to You
    Happy Birthday to You
    Happy Birthday Dear Kelly
    Happy Birthday to You.

    From good friends and true,
    From old friends and new,
    May good luck go with you,
    And happiness too.

    1. Thank you, Nikki. This is so sweet. I can’t tell you how nice a day I had yesterday. And, honestly, this year has been SO MUCH BETTER than the last, oh, 8. It’s amazing how much better life can be when you have a stable job and income and work with nice people. Thanks again, my dogs are keeping each other company on my desk right now.


  2. I think sometimes when we’re having a hard day it’s hard to remember that it only takes one small act of kindness from someone or seeing something beautiful when you weren’t expecting it or even open to it make everything so much better! I love those special people so much, and I need to try harder to be more like them.
    So glad the universe gifted you a special day, even with the bittersweet. 🙂

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