If there is one thing I have learned from this internship that has pushed my emotions to the limit, is the times loss has slapped me in the face.
The weight of loss was something I was, and am, fairly lucky to say I have not dealt with often. The pain of losing a loved one has been sparse, but here, loss is something that is common, but never easy. This week we said goodbye to a long term resident. Adrian, nicknamed AP, a bengal hybrid who was less than impressed by her own kind but more than happy to see a caretaker, intern, or camera guy.
In her last week I was able to spend some time with her, one on one, camera in hand. It was before we knew how fast the cancer would spread. It was before she was in pain. It was the golden moments of life before the inevitable becomes reality. I will cherish the pictures I took then because it is both a reminder of how fragile life is, but its the spirit of AP that was unmistakeable shining through those images.
The stories of loss are endless for those in the Animal Care industry. So many days of absolute life giving moments, are met with the harrowing times of losing an animal who you only know by name, but more-so by personality. I will never look at or interact with animals the same way; you are taught absolute selfless love when you work with living, breathing, creatures who can't even communicate their traumas.
I hope to take this experience and carry it with me everywhere I venture, camera in hand. I was given some amazing advice this week by a professional in the industry and USM Alum, she said "We always have something to learn from everyone's story". Now imagine applying that to the compassion I have learned working at the sanctuary. I can learn from everyone, but I can learn more when I take that same curious eye of not being able to communicate to my subject and listening with my intuition, not my ears.
How you handle loss is a lesson in itself. I was invited to my very first "Girls Night". I have officially been accepted into the group at this point, haha! Deep questions, face masks, friendship bracelets and chai lattes. What a night. But its what we needed. We needed that moment of relaxation. It has been heavy lately. Summer is hard on everyone, especially our older residents. AP is the second resident lost within a month. What ever we needed was met on that night. There is definitely power in community, when the alone times aren't healing enough.
Sorry this was not the typical weekly update, nor was it on time. Some things need to be sat with longer.
There is a Dan Eldon quote for everything. This one reminds me of one of my favorites: "The most important part of vehicle maintenance is clean windows, so if you are broken down you will enjoy the beauty of the view." Sometimes we get broken down, but keep your eyes open, or you'll miss all the good things that are still surrounding us in life.
Thanks for reading. Now enjoy my daily breakfast because that is becoming a side theme of this blog!