Do you have the capacity to love in the midst of loss?

Erik's Hopeby Andrea Chilcote

Today as I awoke, I was struck by the quickening occurring in my life and the lives of those around me. I am in awe of the physical, emotional and spiritual resilience we are demonstrating in the face of challenges and change.

My dear friend, Amigo, left the earth on April 27. Sweet Kairos showed up in my life just two weeks later on May 12, and arrived home at Morningstar six weeks after that. Since then, many have asked me, “How can you love a puppy so soon after Amigo’s passing?”

My answer is the same each time I’m asked. Loving Kairos does not diminish my grief for the loss of Amigo. I have the capacity to love in the midst of loss, maintain faith in moments of fear, and laugh while I cry. All of us have this capacity and it’s being strengthened by the roller coaster experience of life in 2011.

Since Amigo’s departure and Kairos’ arrival, my husband miraculously survived emergency heart bypass surgery and our new book, Erik’s Hope, was released. Asked many times how I was feeling, my answers included anxiety and anger as well as relief and exhilaration. What has prevailed? Faith, love and gratitude.

In midst of any suffering, there is joy to be found in our lives. I am not referring to the metaphorical “silver lining” that accompanies what appear to be negative experiences. Oh, silver linings indeed exist, though they usually show themselves much later, a result of mental perspective rather than emotional experience. Kairos’ arrival was not a silver lining in Amigo’s death. Rather, it was a rich reminder of the range of experiences available when we stop, look, listen—and feel. When we open our eyes and hearts fully, we can access all that our lives contain, present and potential.

On Thanksgiving Day, we ceremoniously retired Amigo’s harness and spread a portion of his ashes in a remote area of our beloved Cave Creek. Twice, when I was overcome by the emotion of remembering Amigo’s love for that spot and longed to have him there with me, Kairos, (out of character, even though he’s a pup) acted the clown and provided comic relief.

Kairos, like many children, puts everything he sees into his mouth. Fortunately not all is swallowed, but most is at least tasted. As I was digging a hole to bury Amigo’s harness in sand and rocks, Kairos buried his face in the sand. He emerged, his white face masked with black granules, with a prized weed hanging from both sides of his mouth. “Look Mom,” his innocent and earnest eyes said. “I can help you find what you’re looking for. Was it this?”

I was reminded in that moment that one can experience gut-wrenching loss, take in the heady beauty of a pristine natural setting, accept the warm love of a friend, and laugh out loud at the antics of an innocent young dog. All at once, each contributed to the experience of the precious present moment and none was more important than the other.

Erik’s Hope chronicles my awakening to simple feelings; feelings that had been buried deep in the sand of my consciousness.  It took raw grief to jolt me alive again. I feel truly alive today as I draw upon my own creative intuition to guide me through the rapids. We are being bombarded by experiences and the lesson appears to be, simply, to experience them. Life vests on, enjoy the ride!

5 thoughts on “Do you have the capacity to love in the midst of loss?

  1. I love the way your share your journey here and in the many ways you teach – so open, loving and embrasing of whatever the universe has to offer. You’re a beautiful person and heartfelt friend. Love to you and Arthur.




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