Friday, February 25, 2011

The Other Side of Winter

For those of you annoyed with winter, I am on your team. We've been having all sorts of schizophrenic weather during the past few days, and even, most painfully, a day that felt almost like spring, only to be whisked away by rain, sleet, hail, ice, flooded backyards, and then this morning, snow again. I say unto you, "Yuck."

But, there is a cause for joy, because we are on the other side of winter. The downward slope leading straight into spring... and summer... and gorgeous fall, before we have to go through all of this again. So, even though today’s weather is cause for much shaking of fists and a scowly rant, knowing that temperatures are going up and warmth is just over the horizon is enough to keep my spirits up.

Which got me thinking about life (as I’m prone to do) and all the other sides we face or find when we’re hit with unpleasantness. Illness comes to mind. My worst illness was mono, a heap of years ago. Going from a healthy, fit person to someone who couldn’t walk ten feet without resting was a life-changing experience. I remember asking a fellow college student (whom I didn’t even know) if he could get me a scantron (yes, I’m elderly... :), because I couldn’t walk across the campus to get my own. Humbling to say the least. (FYI, he did get me a scantron and became a good friend for a few years... suddenly wondering where he is and if he’s happy.) Anyway, even in the midst of that debilitating illness, I found the other side. I changed my life. I became a climber. Became more daring in every aspect of my life.

I was fortunate that my health issues had an expiration date. But even people who face terminal illnesses often find that other side, the beauty in appreciating their lives more, more fully living every single moment. And that’s enough evidence for me to believe that everything has an other side and that if we work at it, we can either find or make one for ourselves.

As my writer friends know, every rejection is one step closer to an acceptance. Our other side is the belief that we will get there and that when we do, everything will mean more for the time it took.

For me, I’ve been searching for the other side of my current struggle, the aging and not-too-far-off end of my much loved dog, who’s been with me for eleven years. He’s special, and I know that everyone thinks their dog is special, but there is a unique spark in some animals that transcends others. I’ve had ones with the spark and others without. Darby has the spark, enough that friends are taking trips to visit me just so they get to see him again before the end. I’ve been lucky to have him and I don’t want to spend all our remaining days wallowing (which, as a border collie, he simply doesn’t approve of), so I started searching for the other side.

And I found it... her.

What started as a mission to help my other dog (who considers Darby her soulmate and has never been without another dog in the house), became something so much more.

Meet Agatha Jayne.

I wasn’t actually looking for a puppy, but she found me (or I found her at a border collie rescue in Minnesota... and yes, I trekked out there in the winter to pick her up). And what I found was my other side, because she proves that life continues. She lives in the now. She is bouncy and chews on Darby’s face. She inspires all of us (pups and people) to play. To take time to throw the ball, and feel the rain/sleet/hail/snow (because I have no other choice now). She is my other side of the ugliness of loss. And Darby, though he complains about her presence, hasn’t played this much in years, and he actually gets more of me than he has in quite a while. And best of all, he gets me happy and hopeful for all the days we have left.

So, every ugly thing in life has an other side, have you found yours?

Quote for the Day from Rainer Maria Rilke

“Believe that with your feelings and your work you are taking part in the greatest; the more strongly you cultivate this belief, the more will reality and the world go forth from it.”


The Golden Eagle said...

Beautiful post. :)

She's such a cute dog!

Lisa Aldin said...

Lovely post! What an adorable puppy!!

Lola Sharp said...

I love stopping by your blog, Julie. It's special, because you are.
I love this post for so many reasons. But #1 on the list is AGATHA is SOOO CUTE!!! Aww, I can almost smell her puppy breath! :) Her freckled nose is too damn adorable. I love the picture of you together. *hugs*

Keep seeing the glass half full, Julie. And have a happy weekend. :)


Debra L. Schubert said...

The post, as always, is brilliant. And the picture of you and Agatha? Stunning. I love you and hope your days left with Darby are filled with the mountains of the love and respect you so obviously share.

Jemi Fraser said...

Agatha Jayne is gorgeous! She sound like a precious gift - just what you all needed. Darby has been so special to you - I hope Agatha has the spark as well. Take care.

Liza said...

Lovely words.

Valerie @ City|Life|Eats said...

You know, when I read this last month, I started tearing up, because it was just what I needed to hear - the concept of the other side. I am at a point where a lot of loss will be coming my way in coming years and I am very afraid of it, and when I read a beautiful reminder such as yours that it will be ok, I just start crying. In fact, I do that an awful lot of the time when reading your blog, but lest you think I am a totally weepy mess, I assure you this is all good as it is allowing me to get in touch with fears and feelings I ignore at other times in my life (where I am most decidedly not a weepy mess). Anyways, of course, I never commented to tell you all this because I was too busy blubbering and thinking, but thank you. And Agatha Jayne is just lovely and I am so glad you are enjoying your time with Darby. Hugs.