Lizzie, the lizard joined our family, two months ago. She was “rescued” in a Starbucks cup at Target & became ours. The boys pooled their money together to buy supplies for their new pet. They searched the backyard for bugs for her to eat. They would come home empty handed more times than not. I would end up at the pet store and buy live crickets at 19 cents a bug for Lizzie to dine on.
Last Friday, my oldest decided to bring Lizzie outside in a portable tank to show her to a neighborhood friend. He made the poor choice to take her out of the tank and Lizzie jumped into a bush. While the younger two were un-phased by Lizzie’s escape, my oldest mourned the loss of this lizard. He sobbed as he shared that he felt like he lost a member of the family and expressed that Lizzie was special to him. Our two day search and rescue was futile. I wanted to end his sadness and took him to the pet store for a replacement. My husband frowned upon this decision. He felt our son was being irresponsible and knew better than to take Lizzie out of the house. I agreed with him, but wanted to end his sadness.
Even though we replaced Lizzie with a new lizard named Sheldon, my son continues to express grief over his lost pet. He continues to hope that we find Lizzie and worries about her safety in the wild after living with us in captivity.
This had me thinking about my own losses this year. I too grieved something that seemed irrational. When I injured my shoulder last November, the loss of my aerial practice left me feeling despondent. I do realize I’m pushing 40 & have 3 kids, which means that my age and life circumstances (as well as skill level) will never allow for this to be more than a hobby for me. However, not being able to hang upside down and exercise in the way I loved left an irreplaceable hole in my life. Well meaning friends and family suggested alternatives, none which resonated with me. I tried a few, but it did not fill the void that I experienced.
I couldn’t replace aerial during my hiatus, as we couldn’t replace Lizzie with Sheldon. I know as well as anyone you can’t replace things that you love that easily. Attachments are individual. What’s a loss for one, may be meaningless to another, as can be seen by my younger children’s lack of emotion to their once beloved pet. Many did not understand why I was so upset about a mere hobby. Whereas friends, who were fellow aerialists, dancers, yogis, runners, basically anyone who had an interest they were passionate about, seemed to be able to empathize with my sadness.
Even now that I’m back to my aerial practice, it is not the same for me. There is more caution and hesitation, as I don’t want to chance another injury. I still have my goals – I just have to approach them with patience & understanding of my limitations.
When you are forced to walk away from something you love, things aren’t always exactly as you left them when you return. They may still be there for you, but often look different. However, if you decide to runaway as Lizzie did- then most likely you aren’t coming back.