It is Memorial Day, a day when we mourn those we’ve lost. My most recent loss was that of my pet companion, Harvey Milk. Harvey came to me as an 8 week old kitten. He crawled onto to my arm while I was carving a pumpkin at a friend’s house, nestled in and fell asleep. It was like he was claiming me. I already had two cats I loved at the time, but Harvey stole my heart.
Harvey was a difficult cat. He was ornery and he had a maddening habit or urinating on everything and I mean everything. I can’t tell you how many of my coveted records and books I had to throw out, shoes, even a toaster oven.
But Harvey was wise. He taught me not to be too attached to things.
Some people who knew of Harvey’s penchant for pissing on things would tell me to get rid of him. But Harvey was my soulmate, my friend, my fur son, he was not something to get rid of. He taught me patience. Those of you who have human children know all about this.
Harvey was unconditionally loving and he showed me that I could love unconditionally. He was my safe space through life’s trials and tribulations. Those of you with animal companions know the greatest gift they give us is that total unconditional love they have for us.
Harvey was also the one being in my life who I could open my heart to completely. I didn’t need to be defended with him. We may find ourselves still holding back and protective of our hearts even with those people in our lives we love the most, but with animal companions we can love them with an open and undefended heart.
I miss Harvey. There’s a quiet absence in my home and in my heart. There’s even a bit of loss of direction and meaning in my life and a sadness for the loss of love that he gave me and that I got to give him.
My heart goes out to those of you who are grieving loved ones and feeling that loss of direction and meaning. I hope you find meaningful ways to honor the memory of your loved one. I also hope you find a way to honor your feelings of loss and care for yourself. Please let yourself feel the grief. There are 5 Stages of Grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Don’t judge or deny your feelings. Let your tears pour forth as reminders of the love and moments you shared together.