Skip to main content

Is An Open Heart the Route to Happiness?

We lost our beloved Lhasa Apso, Coco, last September. She’d had a heart condition, so her loss wasn’t entirely unexpected but it was devastating nonetheless. Her slow decline was heartbreaking and painful to watch. After taking a cue from her and consulting with her primary vet and her cardiologist we decided it was time to let her go. My husband met us at the vet at the appointed hour. I remember him sitting on the bench in the exam room crying as I held her. “I thought I was ready,” he said between sobs, “But I’m not. I’m not.”

My heart broke for all of us: for Coco, for him, for myself. She’d been a great dog, stubborn and regal and difficult, but utterly herself and a fighter to the end.

We still had Toby, our silky terrier. He seemed fine, we assured ourselves. He enjoys being an only dog finally and getting our undivided attention, we said. We weren’t ready for another dog, couldn’t face the devastation that would come with another loss. We’d lost two dogs already and I was afraid of what would happen to Stanley if he had to go through another loss. I worried how I would cope.

Then one night, 11 months and six days after we lost Coco, while walking Toby we saw a little white
Victor Lord Riley
dog running down the street. Assuming he’d gotten out of someone’s yard, we ran after him because that’s what we do in our neighborhood: we rescue each other’s dogs. We were surprised he had no collar and no one we saw recognized him. We took him home, fed him, gave him water, and then tried to clear his coat of twigs and debris. Then we crated him and went to bed. The next morning we took him to the vet to be scanned for a chip. No chip. So I bathed him and fed him and posted signs: Found Dog. A few days later I said to Stanley, “We need to give him a name.”

“How about Guest?” he suggested. I ignored him.

“I’m thinking Victor Lord Riley.”

“We’re not keeping him,” he said.

“I know,” I conceded, “But he still needs a name.”

Eight weeks later he is still here and his name is Victor Lord Riley. We call him Riley. He is a joy and he and Toby have bonded. More importantly perhaps, he and Stanley have bonded. And Riley has filled the empty space left by Coco’s passing.

I can’t help but remember that we absolutely did not want another dog. We weren’t ready. The time wasn’t right. Yet when Riley walked into our lives, by being open we found a joy we did not expect or anticipate.

So often in life the route to happiness lies in just being open.

I knew Stanley for 5 years before we started dating. Then we broke up. In truth he dumped me. The week before Valentine’s Day. We tried going the “let’s be friends” route but I walked away. It just wasn’t worth the pain. 18 months later he sent me a birthday card. We started seeing each other even though I didn’t believe in second acts or second chances.

Six months later he asked me to move in with him. Even as his words faded in the air, I could hear my Aunt’s advice: “Never move in with a man. He can move in with you or you can move someplace together but never move into his place.” I moved in with him. In June, after 17 years together, we got married.

Once again, the route to happiness lay in being open.

So leave a comment below and tell me how being open has led you to happiness. And if you haven’t experienced that yet then I encourage you to open your heart: read a book you wouldn’t normally read (preferably one of mine). Or smile at a stranger on the street.
Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Ghost Unseen

My life: I have been a model citizen; a good son; employee of the year, year after year after year. I have lived in the shadows, a ghost, unseen. And now, as my life ebbs away, eternity like a black moon rising, I felt his hands on my body, efficient and cool. My chest was tight, and I was uncomfortable, but I didn’t mind, not really. I had endured worse, much worse. I wished I could scratch my nose. I wished I could move. “Does he not have any family—anyone we should call?” someone else was in the room with us, then. “No,” he said, his hands working. “I suspect he was gay,” he added, speaking of me as if I was already dead. “And you know,” he continued, his hands working, working, “He was of that generation that kept in the shadows.” I recognized his voice now; he was my day nurse. He was a fey young thing, gentle and outrageous, but much loved by patients and staff alike who treated him not as a curiosity to be pointed at and whispered about, perhaps even laughed at, nor as some exotic…

The Corporatorium: I Am Prometheus (Episode One)

I am Prometheus. Prometheus. Say it slowly, roll the letters around in your mouth. Prometheus. It is not my real name but it is name most fitting for me. Prometheus, the creator of mankind and its greatest benefactor, chained to a rock, his liver eaten daily by an eagle, in eternal damnation for stealing fire and gifting it to mankind. Yes, there are definite similarities between us.
I am Prometheus, and this is my story. Except it’s not my story. I wish it was, but I am not unique or special. This is the story of untold millions of hapless chaps and chicklets caught up in the grinding gears of the corporate machine.
This is a faux memoir told episodically. You will be inclined, at times, to laugh at us, and cry for us. Do not hold back either impulse. That is the point of sharing this story—to remind us that life is nothing but a series of small comedies and tragedies. What is important is what we take away from each occurrence, what we learn from each calamity and joy.
What will be…

The Corporatorium: A Platinum Gay (Season 2, Episode 4)

Ask them?” I whispered fiercely.
“No! You ask.” Elvis practically whistled out of the side of his mouth.
“But you brought it up—”
“You agreed.”
The vet, who was the sort of woman who’d drunk Brandy Alexanders in her youth, and then later in life, divorced and resettled, had adopted a pair of Lhasa Apso pups and named them Brandy and Alexander, cleared her throat. Now, she asked, “Is there something else?”
Our dog, who just gotten a series of vaccinations trembled on the stainless steel table, her big brown eyes pleading for escape. She’d only been with us two weeks and didn’t fully trust us it seemed. At this moment, I can’t say I trusted us either.
“Um…yes…can you look at her um…her privates?”
“You mean her vulva?” The vet tech, young, blonde, perky with bright compassion, asked briskly. If not for her love of animals, she’d have been a stewardess: bubbly, unflappable, unmoored.
“Yes!”
She rolled our dog onto her back and we all peered at her, squirming.
“What are we looking for?” The two wom…