Lessons Learned
Start writing a post

If you’re reading this, I hope it resonates with you. And if you’re not, I truly wish you were.

There is some truth to the idea that our parents get us pets, loving and furry animals, to learn compassion and responsibility. But I will tell you the other side to that is to learn the ability to cope with loss, understand the ramifications of death and come to terms with the realities of life. Maybe in the moment they aren’t thinking about it, with your childhood joy and all, and lord knows you aren’t, a six-year-old with a goldfish. But one day, it’ll be a lesson learned, a "life" experience, if you will.

We spend countless days, months, and if you’re lucky, years caring for an extension to the family. Feed, water, play, clean up, repeat. They stand by our sides during times of tragedy, and support us with unconditional love in silence. Their existence is enough for us. They sense trouble before us, guard the doors, protect the home that may be heartfelt or reality. Lay with us while we cry and deny the affections of our parents and friends. They are the teddy bear we’ve always needed.

Then one day, you lose them. And the worst part, they can’t even say goodbye. Can’t lay with you while you cry over the loss of them. It’s a devastation that’s both dramatic and necessary, and as a child, you learn this lesson. The goldfish goes belly up, and you learn about it while you flush him down the toilet in some dramatic titanic-esc scene. Off to the store to buy a-new. You bury the family dog or cat in the backyard and cringe at the spot where grass has yet to regrow. One day, you’ll find a stray and they will fill the hole where your childhood pet lay. Not to replace, but because to some extent, they feel necessary to our existence. We find ourselves empty in places we didn’t know could be emptied, we feel unsafe without a snore at the foot of the bed.

So you learn to cope, and clean up the scraps no one is there to lap up. You learn to live with the loss, learn to live without them. Lesson learned.

But like math, there’s more than just 2+2. There’s multiplication, algebra, trigonometry… And the lessons get more complicated as we grow.

The people we grow up loving, the ones we learn to love. The ones we have only ever loved. Those that taught us the lessons of loss, the introduction to addition: 1+1 level, somehow are subtracted from our lives. And sometimes, like our furry companions, they don’t get to say goodbye.

We are quick to answer 2 A.M. calls, expectant of death. No one calls the house at this hour... We bounce in from work or class to tears on kitchen tables. Sometimes we just know.

You drive for hours, going nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Revisiting roads you’ve driven down. Sitting on curbs you’ve shared. Staring at photos you’ve taken. You look to the passenger seat; every trip, test drive… flashbacks are a bitch.

The sick part is, you’ve been through this before. And you’ll continue to go through it.

We watch our grandparents age and dwindle, forgetting our names and struggle to stand for a greeting. Say things like, “this could be the last time…” and “you never know when…”. And yet when it happens, it’s still a surprise. Could have been tomorrow I suppose, or last week. But we ache for the memories of a childhood unforgotten; if they're gone, so is everything I've ever experienced with them, right? Cookies don’t taste the same, we smell cigars in the dead of empty night.

We realize that age has nothing to do with it. Sickness knows no bounds, temptation knows all weakness’ and accidents are just so. We look for answers in unwritten letters, sent text messages and full freezers. The “what ifs” will destroy you. The blame game never has a winner. Whose pain is worse, yours or mine?

You wait for the "April Fools!", or the alarm clock wake up. It never comes, and you’re forced to realize that it’s a reality. Swollen eyes, choking coughs followed by discarded cigarette butts and quietly blasted songs of desperation and devastation. Long walks on beaches drinking alcohol stolen from our parents, freshly baked bread with flour dusted everywhere, barbeques with too loud of laughs. I’ll say it again. Childhood memories in backyards. Easter Sunday breakfasts. Christmas Eve dinners.

You sleep terribly, sip coffee that goes cold. You attend wake after funeral, and funeral after funeral. The rooms all feel the same, too warm for the winter brewing inside us. There is always the moment someone grabs your hand while you sit silently, the embrace after a service. The turn-around at casket, when you have just enough time to see everyone else staring back at your pain, mirrors. There is the moment you realize how much this is going to hurt. The moment you realize you’re about to feel it, and the moment you do.

No number of run-away turtles, and ill-fated hamsters could have prepared you for these moments. They gave us ideas, they educated us. They planted the seed and watered it slowly, until the day it grew too big and had to be cut. As anyone that walks within your life will do.

Feed, water, repeat.

Within the moments of heavy breathing and gasping sessions of hysterics, you’ll find solidarity in the memories. The reminders of their laugh, their favorite song played at the right time, their found forgotten sweatshirt. In the hollow of wanting to tell them about your day, you will remember an argument that now makes you smile.

Tattoo yourselves with dates you won’t forget, then ask "Is that today?"

Smile at dropped feathers, hear meows that aren’t there, whisper “happy birthday” every year.

You will drive with purpose, and reminisce with yourself as you drive past those curbs, you will frame the photos.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers


Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series


Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?


Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less

14 Last Minute Valentine's Day Gifts Your S.O. Will Love

If they love you, they're not going to care if you didn't get them some expensive diamond necklace or Rolex watch; they just want you.


Let me preface this by saying I am not a bad girlfriend.

I am simply a forgetful one.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Helpful Tips For College Students Taking Online Courses This Semester

Here are several ways to easily pass an online course.

Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels

With spring semester starting, many college students are looking to take courses for the semester. With the pandemic still ongoing, many students are likely looking for the option to take online courses.

Online courses at one time may have seemed like a last minute option for many students, but with the pandemic, they have become more necessary. Online courses can be very different from taking an on-campus course. You may be wondering what the best way to successfully complete an online course is. So, here are 10 helpful tips for any student who is planning on taking online courses this semester!

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments