A close friend of mine just lost her partner. She is fifty-two years old and a brilliant psychotherapist. She works tirelessly in her private practice, taking solitary breaks from time to time, and visits with friends. She is always learning, reading, or doing body work to keep her dancer’s body warm and flexible. She eats no animals except fish, recycles what she can and keeps her cars for many years. She is loving, conscientious and a very good friend. Her home is welcoming and comforting and the land around her house continually develops new surprises. We go back many years.
Now that Oscar is gone… the house seems too big and the lawns just echo with myriad images of long wooded walks, playful sunrises or anxious times when he was disconnected or out of sight. The ghosts of previous shared lives dart through the shrubbery and down the hill to the orchard.
When one has enjoyed steady partnership, devotion, company on call and exercise as a guarantee (as well as an additional structure for self care), one perceives no lack. There is a daily wholeness, a loving completion, fulfillment. Of course, although verbal conversation can be understandably limited, the death of a long-time companion is stark as it pitches us into an abyss of unknowable currents.
What arises at some point, out of the absence, might be a yearning for partnership for its own sake. The presence of an energy besides our own –gone– the ache of suddenly having no outlet for our affection and expression can be suffocating. It leaves us open… but to what? To whom?
I wonder if losing Oscar, the beneficent golden retriever, will awaken an awareness of renewed choice and perhaps a refinement of my friend’s needs and wishes. Or is it her relatives and support group that would will her to find one, this time in human form? We stand witness in love– that’s all we can do. I wish her the comfort of her deep imagination as she walks that winding path, alone for now.