Like many families across the country, dogs hold a significant place in our family dynamic. Since before I was born, we’ve always had at least one dog in our pack.
We’ve had a number of dogs over the years and each one has brought their own personality and quirks and filled our lives with joy. But every dog comes with a somber inevitability. In November, we said goodbye to our sweet giant Tiberius, as gentle as he was playful.
No matter how many times we do this, these goodbyes never seem to get any easier.
Just a few weeks later though, my parents got a puppy and, after much deliberation, settled on the name Porter. Gravy was a close second. I drove down the same weekend they brought Porter home in order to finish and install the grave post for Tiberius.
It was a strange weekend. One moment I was rolling on the floor with a four-legged fluff ball and the next I was carving out the letters of my late friend’s name.
It was like being caught between two worlds. One of celebration and the other of mourning. The joys of playing with Porter did little to spare me the sting of losing Tiberius but that grief didn’t stop me from smiling and laughing throughout the weekend.
Holding both of these emotions at the same time was difficult. Sometimes I even felt guilty for letting myself enjoy playing with the puppy, as if grief was the only emotion I was supposed to allow myself.
I’ve realized that we face dualities like this almost every day. Life, it seems, is full of them. Especially now, when every moment, good or bad, is painted over the backdrop of a pandemic. No matter your situation, I believe there’s a balance to be found.
It’s easy to let the grief and stress consume us. But I encourage you to seize those moments of joy. Even if they’re small or brief compared to what you’re going through, they will offer you some balance.
I don’t mean to block out the bad either. Your pain, your grief — they’re real, it’s OK to feel those and mourn as you need. But remember, your life is more than just a struggle.
Because life is never just one thing. It’s never all good or all bad and that’s probably what gives much of our lives meaning and even beauty.
So, no matter what you’re going through, take time to put away your pain and explore the moments of joy in your life too. Savor that cup of coffee, laugh unapologetically with your friend, or spend an afternoon crawling around the floor with a puppy.
Where there are shadows, there is light.
Caleb Galbreath is a freelance journalist and web editor for KP News.
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