It is better to have loved and lost...


Fear not... The title of this post isn't giving a hint into the status of my love life. I actually said this Alfred Lord Tennyson quote to a friend, when we were talking about the loss of her dog. For some reason, which I don't comprehend at all, there are people who don't understand the roles of animals in our lives. But not me. Sandy was part of Morfia's family for over 14 years. She arrived as a ball of fluff when her kids were early teenagers. They are now in their late twenties and early thirties, and the loss of their dog is the same as the loss of any other family member.

I knew Morfia's pain, as I went through having a cat die of cancer a number of years ago. Scully was the first cat I ever owned, and I got her when I was living on my own. The landlord suggested it, and the thought of coming home to a friendly furry face in the evening was kind of appealing. She was with me for 10 years. On finding out she had cancer I cried and cried. After a huge operation the vet discovered the cancer was aggressive and had given the worse case scenario as two months. My world fell apart, but I put it back together quickly, so I could spend as much time with Scully as possible. She only ate the posh cat food, and was smothered with more love and attention than the last few years combined. She lasted 18 months from her original diagnosis and I was with her when she had to be put down. I can still remember the acute feeling as it happened. It felt like my heart was actually breaking in my chest, like no pain I had known before or since.

I was discussing with Morfia, how these lovely creatures enrich our lives and provide unconditional love. Well, perhaps a couple of conditions of food and shelter, but actually not much more than that. They just want to be part of our day to day lives and are always happy to be with us, through good times and bad. And yet some people see them as 'only animals'. I find it sad, but perhaps it goes a long way to understanding man's relationship with animals. I think I've mentioned before that I'm a vegetarian. I'm not about to get on my high-horse here and bang the drum for a meat free lifestyle. However, I remember reading a James Herriot book where he said he had trouble as a vet, as people asked him if their animals would go to heaven. You see, the Christian faith believes that man is superior to animals, so they can't have souls. I find this so upsetting, yet it may explain how some people can harm animals without any blight on their conscious. Or even perhaps how people can work in abattoirs or practice intensive farming. James by the way, naturally was an animal lover and was on the side that if we had souls, animals certainly did too.

Another friend had a pet die a few years ago, and her husband was so upset that he said they couldn't get another pet. It was too distressing for him. This is what led to my Tennyson quote 'that it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all'. I believe it is always better to have had love in our lives than not, and I wouldn't replace a second of my time with Scully to erase the pain of losing her. You see, that is life. Good and bad. Happiness and pain. Love and loss. You can't have one without the other. And frankly, trying to live a life without the whole box and dice seems a bit sad. That has just reminded me of a scene from the great movie Parenthood, which I've found on youtube. Life is messy, but who'd have it any other way.

The symbiotic relationship of man and beast is complex, but for the lucky few it is a rewarding and enriching connection. I have two cats now, and I used to joke saying it took two cats to replace Scully. I am lucky to have found these character filled furry souls who inhabit my daily life and bring me immense joy. And knowing and understanding Morfia's loss, has made me even more grateful for Bella and Fin. I have just found this clip - excuse the fact it's a commercial, but it may shed some light on how some of us feel about our pets. Enjoy. Now I'm off to feed the cats.

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