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Heartfelt Confessions: Life and Loss

I loved my dog, Jenny, when I was growing up. She was a little white poodle, and I have many precious memories of us together—going to the park, sleeping with her in my bed, playing outside, walking, and swimming in the ocean. She was my best friend in my youth, and we did everything together. And she loved my piano playing, keeping me company while I practiced.

One day, when I was out in the yard with her to play with the jump rope, she ran toward a car approaching us. As the car was coming slowly, I thought things would be okay, thinking the car or Jenny would stop in time. I still ran toward her to grab her leash. Then, she thought it was some kind of tag game and started to run faster away from me. My heart pounded.

“Don’t do it, Jenny! Don’t!”

Then, at that moment, she disappeared under the front of the car but did not come out the back. I stopped in the middle of the road, not sure how to think or what to do. When I slowly walked toward the car that had stopped abruptly and looked underneath it, there was Jenny looking at me. A huge feeling of relief washed over me as I reached my arm under the car and grabbed her little body in my arms.

“Oh, you worried me, Jenny.”

But her body was not resisting the way she usually would but simply draped limply in my arms. I looked at her, and my whole world just turned upside down.

She was dead.

My memories of the period after the accident are vague. I remember that my days were filled with bursts of nonstop crying, and that my days had little flavor for a while. That was my first experience with the loss of a loved one.

I have a secret to confess: I haven’t had another dog since then. I couldn’t dare to have another Jenny and go through that pain again. Not to mention, for a long time, I haven’t been in the position to have a pet due to my constant travels.

I have another confession to make. More often than not, I fear losing people in my life: my partner, mom, and friends, who are always there for me. I can’t imagine what life would be like without their love, shared memories, and support. Just thinking about it, I feel a pain in my chest.

At times, it is challenging for me to balance that fear with abundant love. I know that I need to keep living with the expected pain, appreciating each of them fully. That pain is a part of life that I am afraid to go through, yet it’s so meaningful and precious to have these amazing people to love in my life. It is surely worth the pain to have them in my life.

I have lost many friends, mentors, and family members in my life, as have you. Every loss hit me in such a way that I was no longer the same person. The pain of loss always molded me into someone new. I never got over the loss but had to learn to live with it.

One thing that has helped me is that I feel the existence of the deceased residing in me as strongly as it did when they lived. They are right there in my head, or in my heart, everywhere I go, living vividly within me. I still feel the existence of my dog, Jenny, in my heart. Thankfully, whenever I think of Jenny now, a good memory arises first more than the pain of loss: the way we played hide and seek, the way she gave me hugs, and the walks we took on a nearby mountain in the early morning.

I believe that we all have abundant, unlimited capacity for giving love. The more I love, the deeper my capacity for love grows, and the more I get back. Whenever I feel the fear of losing someone in my life arising in my mind, I remind myself that I will also be gone one day without knowing when. The finiteness of life is beautiful as it is.

Life is short, life is sweet, and life is worth living, even with the painful challenges it throws our way.

Over the weekend, I had a wonderful two-day trip, babysitting two adorable family dogs, Wolfie and Connie. As an aunt, spoiling them was the easiest thing in the world, from giving plenty of playtime to cooking chickens for their special meals. At the same time, I sensed that the more I loved them, the more my fear of losing them grew. Right now, this very moment is all I’ve got. Don’t live in the future, Jeeyoon . . .

A note to myself:

Choose love over fear. Choose to be positive. Choose to accept. Choose to live fully, now.

Maybe, maybe one day, when I don’t travel so much, I will be able to have another pet in my life.

Have a wonderful week!


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