Suicide Aftershocks VOL V: Synchronicity and Windows of Opportunity, and How a Canine Helped Unpack my Heart and those of my 3 pups!

Early this year, about seven months post suicide; I was sitting at my computer aimlessly wandering through emails.  My late husband’s email address was still active and receiving as I had not yet dismantled his accounts.  He had an account with a site called NEXT DOOR.  It’s a website that allows you to connect within your neighborhood to promote community, communicate real time with neighbors and happenings and go local.  (www.nextdoor.com )

As I was scanning through the mail, a post on this site came up of a neighbor looking for a daily dog sitting situation for his very large and active Belgian Malinois.  I clicked the link and responded that I was interested and gave my phone number before I even realized I’d done it!  Once I clicked SEND, it hit me that I’d put myself out there. My mature, fear based response was to immediately delete my husband’s account and pretended it never happened!  I didn’t think I wanted any kind of commitment plus I had three dogs of my own.IMG_0595

A couple of days went by and the matter slipped my mind (or I blocked it out) until I received a phone call from the guy looking for dog sitting.  This was one of those synchronistic situations where I decided to roll with it even though my mind was screaming “DON’T”.  Coincidentally, he was immediately able to bring the dog by my place for a meet-and-greet to see if we would all be a good fit. My “normal” at that time was far from normal.  I was on edge, defensive and anxious a lot of the time, in relatively deep grief and quite scattered.

I have about ¾’s of an acre fenced on the water which is essentially my own dog park.  The owner and McLovin’ the dog arrived (names have been changed to protect the innocent!) and things went great.  We decided to give it a go which meant I would have McLovin’ daily for an hour.  I was weirdly excited and scared at the same time.  My heart recognized that this was a window of opportunity for me but my mind was telling me that it was a mistake to have a mid day commitment long term.

Our first day I thought—I LOVE this dog AND I’m remembering why I don’t want a puppy!  But my heart was singing!  This dog was a giant, pain-in-the-arse dose of presence! He’s smarter than me, curious and full of vitality which in dog speak equals trouble, opportunism and loads of adventure.  He needed eyes on him at all times.  This meant that my routine went out the window and I had to be fully alert and engaged while he was with us.  This shift of focus was powerfully transformative.  It allowed my mind to relax, my edges to soften and my heart to open again.IMG_0621

IMG_0504McLovin’ and my biggest dog, MacTavish, became best buddies instantly and my 2 little ones were equally captivated by him.  He clearly liked us too, and his very being-ness created an entirely new dynamic in my home. IMG_0631

This giant puppy engaged my dogs in a playful and experimental way, bringing out the inner puppy in them and effectively eradicating the grief and pain that they’d experienced in the loss of my husband, prolonged exposure to his depression, as well as my grief and diverted focus.

I kept him in general 2-3 hours daily simply because it was so much fun. He brought a joy and lightness I needed desperately in my environment—in my home.  This is so relevant because most of my friends were uncomfortable coming to my house as it’s ground zero for my husband’s suicide.  I nicknamed him “McLovin’” because he’s the definition of unconditional love on four legs.  He’s silly and affectionate in a full body, roll all over you and against you kind of way.

My mood never mattered to him—he was forever happy to see me and even more so to come to my house and play with the pack.  If I stopped and sat, he’d immediately be on me—literally!  He would sit or lay on me instinctively knowing what I needed to lay down my guard and navigate back to my heart.

Daily, when I left to get McLovin’, my dogs would wait at the window patiently for our return and then pine away for him when I took him back to his house.  On days I would leave and come home without him, my dogs would howl and cry—berating me for coming home alone!

This is the beauty of synchronicity and taking chances—the willingness to go beyond fear and just roll with it!  It obviously didn’t occur to my rational mind to bring in a new puppy pack mate as “healer” for my dogs, my home and my heart, and yet that is exactly what happened in the most unexpected, fun and joyous way.

In short—a situation I was scared to enter quickly became one of the most profoundly transformative opportunities in this very difficult year.   A window of opportunity that I allowed myself to open, for which I will forever be grateful.  And it came in the unexpected package of a very big puppy, who, to loosely quote the following song, “shone a light into my darkness”.

So here’s to leaping through windows of opportunity with reckless abandon!

Joyfully unpacking my heart,

Kim

7 thoughts on “Suicide Aftershocks VOL V: Synchronicity and Windows of Opportunity, and How a Canine Helped Unpack my Heart and those of my 3 pups!

  1. How beautiful! First, I LOVE when we do things spur of the moment that seem to be totally guided by a force outside of ourselves. This opportunity that was brought to you, was truly guided by an outside force. I don’t think we understand just how perceptive animals are, especially dogs. The fact that this dog was able to be with you and your dogs, fully present with YOU is so incredible. The ability to reach into the depths of our being without communicating in a vocal language, but rather a language of the heart and soul. I am so moved by this! Sending love and healing !

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  2. Kim, I almost never glance at my Facebook feed but there you were. I was utterly captivated by your beautifully told story. First, my heart reaches out to yours for your immense loss. I have some overlaps with your experience in that I have been chronically ill, in bed for ten years. What prevented me many times from ending my own life was a cat who showed up at my door and rescued me. Her name was Mira and she was the love of my life. She was about three when she came and for seven and a half years I allowed her to ongoingly keep opening my heart bigger and bigger. This May she was discovered to have stage four colon cancer. We had two weeks and then I needed to put her down. I cannot tell you how devastated I was. I am crying as I write this. After a month of agony something told me to write an entry on Nextdoor.com asking if I could come pet someone’s cat. The only response I got was from someone with two dogs. I have never had dogs, nor have I ever particularly cared for them. But what I realized as soon as I met them was that Mira had opened my heart to now love all animals. These two dogs have become such balm for my soul. The love and peace I experience when I visit them is such a gift. And when I say that I find I now love all animals, I kid you not. I have lovingly greeted and said heartfelt goodbyes to a group of fruit flies that took up residence with me this summer. Recently two neighbors, one who remembered my Nextdoor query, have asked if I would adopt their cats. Nothing is decided, but my heart is healing, and is open to whatever feels right. I love looking at your photos of your pack. Their faces are all so beautiful and their eyes full of love. I am so happy that this big puppy has brought all of you so much. Much love to you.

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    • Laurel, Thank you for sharing your experience so authentically! I am always amazed and inspired by the animals in our lives. I appreciate your sharing about the fruit flies!!! We must be sisters!

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  3. What a beautiful story, Kim. Thank you for reminding me how much animals can help us to “get out of ourselves” and experience joy. Thank you, thank you!

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  4. Precious Friend,
    I can’t say more right now but just wanted you to know how profoundly meaningful what you share here in your posts is to me right now. Sending you love.
    Col

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