Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Kindness of Strangers

As many of you know, my sweet kitty of three years, Leo, was accidentally killed on Tuesday. I was home with my kids and I held it together long enough to take them to camp and then came home and buried my precious boy in the garden, sobbing loud enough to scare the neighbors indoors.

The writer’s life is often solitary and on that day, I felt deeply and incredibly alone. I came back into the house—dirty, sweaty, and in the first stage of raw agony and shock that accompanies grief and I posted a note on Facebook because I desperately needed to make a connection.
I got what I needed. Over 100 people commented, sent me poems, articles, and photos of the pets they’d recently lost. This helped me get the tears out because I’ve never been good at that. Some of the stories even coaxed a smile or two. I felt the cyber hugs and cherished the photos of so many beloved animals.
That’s the silver lining of this horrible week. I was truly touched by how many strangers reached out to me, offering an outpouring of love and compassion. I know that sounds cheesy but that's what it felt like to this wounded heart.
Don’t tell me people are losing their ability to communicate because of technology. Don’t tell me that our relationships on Facebook are shallow. Don’t tell me that people aren’t moved to help one another. My Facebook wall will prove all those theories wrong.
Has a stranger done you a kindness that stuck with you over time?

25 comments:

Heather said...

Great big hugs coming your way. It is never easy to lose a pet, no matter how long you have had them. We had to put down my cat three summers ago, just a couple months past her 20th birthday. I never felt so alone as I did that night. (((HUGS)))

Dru said...

{{{JB}}} Sorry for your loss.

Susan said...

So Sorry for your loss..Susan

~ Babs ~ said...

So sorry about Leo it is hard as they are like our kids. We have lost several over the years and it never gets easier.

Mason Canyon said...

JB, so sorry to hear about Leo. He was adorable. It is good to be able to communicate with others who can understand and relate when we lose a pet. Pets to a lot of us are family members and a big part of our lives.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

Andrea C. said...

JB - I am so,so sorry for the loss of your pet. I lost the love of my life, my Siberian Husky Oliver, in November. I was devestated but, like you, amazed at the kindness of the people around me. I teach high school students and they were so amazing. The love and kindess they showed be touched me. They offered their condolences, gave me cards, and were so supportive. There was even a girl who made a charcoal drawing of Oliver as surprised me with it. You say that you believe people out there still care, well I agree and I want to say that teenagers get a bad rap! They are awesome!

Linda Leszczuk said...

I was asked once, by someone who didn't understand the concept of furry family members, why I even have dogs when I know they're going to die on me and I'm going to be devastated. How could I explain the joy they bring during their short lives?

Remember the joy.

Dean James said...

oh, Jennifer, my heart goes out to you. Saying goodbye to them is never easy, especially one so young. Big hugs from all of us!

pinkcypress said...

I am so sorry you lost your kitty :( It's so heartbreaking to lose a loved one.

And I agree with you about "cyber friends" - just because you don't see them face to face doesn't mean a thing - there are millions of loving, caring people sending good thoughts to you.

On another discussion board I go to regularly, people are always sending prayers and even cards or other things to members who have posted they've lost a loved one, or having a hard time, etc. There's even a special thread for "random acts of kindness".

I hope that soon you will remember Leo with more smiles than tears.

Beth solheim said...

My sympathies. Loss of our beloved pets is heart breaking.

Linda McDonald said...

JB: Sending big hugs your way during this heart breaking time. Pets bring so much love and happiness to our lives, as I know Leo did for you (and you did for him). I'm very sorry for your loss.

Kate Collins said...

Jenn, I just want to add my deepest sympathies. It took me a very long time to get over the death of my 14 yr old calico. She was there with me while I raised my children. It felt like my friend had died. We have to consider ourselves lucky that such beautiful animals graced our lives, even for a short while.

Maggie Sefton said...

Jenn, our beloved pets are such a huge part of our lives. It's hard enough when they are aged and ill to let them go. To have then leave us when very young is doubly wrenching. More hugs coming your way.

Debra said...

Our pets ask so little and give us unconditional love. I am sorry for your loss.

Helen Kiker said...

I am sorry for your loss. I know how sad I was when my favorite dog died.

When I moved to a new area some years ago I was helped very much by evening chats on the internet with a person that I had met online who lived across the country from me. I never met her in person but she was a lifeline to me as I was to her when she was going through an unhappy divorce.

Helen Kiker
hdkiker@comcast.net

Suzanne said...

My pet yorkie passed away last January, so I understand your loss. I am very happy that you received so many heartfelt kind words to comfort you during a difficult time.

karen said...

Jennifer,
I'm so sorry. What a sweet cat he was.
Karen

Lisa D said...

JB ~ So very sorry for your loss.

Hugs,
Lisa

Vickie said...

{{HUGS}} What a sweet face and relaxed mellow kitty. I am so sorry for your loss.

Kaye said...

oh, Jennifer, I am so sorry to hear about your cat. It's so heartbreakingly sad to lose a member of the family. Big hugs to you.

Kelly L said...

I am so sorry for your loss. It is so hard when we expect it and even harder when we don't! Big hugs over the miles.

lavendersbluegreen said...

I am so very sorry for your loss. I too have lost a cat and it is not easy... anytime we lose family is hard. I wish I could make you a casserole.

Kaye George said...

I'm so sorry you lost Leo this way. My little James is in the back yard under a blue Rose of Sharon, since he was a Russian blue.

Kindness from a stranger? Yes, mostly definitely. I was out of town for a stressful family funeral (exes and present spouses and stuff like that). I took a walk with my aunt and we stopped for ice cream. We sat at a booth and ate it and talked. As we were leaving, a gal who worked there motioned over to her and asked if anyone had ever told me what a beautiful smile I had. That was such a bright, shining light at a dark time for me and I've never forgotten it. I try to pay it forward.

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear about your cat. We have had to say goodbye to some very beloved cats and I can tell you that it isn't easy.

Be sure to give yourself time to cry and to remember all the ways your kitty touched your life. We always find it healing to talk about all the things that kitty did -- good and bad and to laugh and/or cry about them.

Be good to yourself -- and when you are ready (which might be very soon or never) there is someone warm and furry who would love to come and rule your home :)

LindaC said...

So sorry for the loss of your Leo. I lost my boy, Sam, to cancer in 1996 and I still miss him. He was my 'baby' before I had human children. Take care.

LindaC