Courage to Love

Our pet kitten, Pepper, died recently. My siblings and my daughter were heartbroken as I was. Pepper was rescued in early 2022 from our backyard in my hometown, then a teeny-weeny, thin being with scant fur, and with a meow scarcely above a whisper.

I usually described those trips as somersaults of the emotions–the thrill in preparing for the trips (my luggage is usually ready days before the trip, with only the passport and toiletries to be added plus some pasalubongs, the happiness when being with loved ones, and the sadness of going back alone to my apartment…

Three months passed. Pepper had become a tiny, playful ball of energy because of my siblings’ care primarily, particularly in feeding him milk and soft and nutritious kitten food. Then all of a sudden, last 19 May, he quietly passed away, possibly because of an ailment, despite having been vaccinated, and having been brought to the vet a week before because of a seeming runny nose. We were all saddened. I was particularly affected because I was home then, doing my errands and work, and checking up on him intermittently throughout the day, while not giving him my full attention.

We weren’t okay for a few days, but then, we have accepted the situation and have somehow moved on.

This brings to mind the few travels I had while I was posted in Europe for my foreign assignment from 2018-2021. Due to the workload, most of the trips I took to visit family and friends were during weekends. I would leave Paris by early Saturday morning and will be in another country after two (2) hours. Then, I would be back to my apartment by Sunday evening. A rare exception is when Friday or Monday was a holiday, which would then extend the trip to three (3) days.

Those were memorable trips, precious time spent with family and friends who are residing in nearby countries. I usually described those trips as somersaults of the emotions–the thrill in preparing for the trips (my luggage is usually ready days before the trip, with only the passport and toiletries to be added plus some pasalubongs, the happiness when being with loved ones, and the sadness of going back alone to my apartment, then usual day-to-day work routine from Monday to Friday.

I could have just stayed in my cozy apartment and chill, watch a movie, cook a comfort food. Then my heart would be relaxed all throughout.

Or, going back to the previous situation, we could have chosen not to adopt Pepper. Then he’d have been gone a day after being exposed to sun, rain, and fog and we wouldn’t have noticed. That’s why I can say that love takes courage. Loving and caring makes us vulnerable. Why would one choose to feel miserable and suffer, when you can just maintain the same level of emotions, right?

These musings bring to mind several works of fiction that I have read in the past. In the novel “A Brave New World” by Alduous Huxley, the characters live in a World State, a futuristic place where people are devoid of emotions and only get to experience them through “feelies.” The other two are George Orwell’s 1984, another novel about a totalitarian society, with a brainwashed population obeying Big Brother blindly, and Ayn Rand’s Anthem, also about a dystopian society in which people live for the state and are not allowed to have their own “personal lives or loves.”

Certainly, the situations depicted in the novels are dystopian societies where people do not have a choice and those who are brave enough to deviate are punished. I am not saying that choosing not to love so as not to be hurt is comparable to the state of the characters. They do not love and are unable to love because of society’s restrictions and/or genetic programming. But would you prefer to be unfeeling so as not be devastated by emotions? Or would you be willing to be attached and be vulnerable?

It indeed takes courage to love. The two situations I mentioned are but a few of the numerous ways people have loved and have experienced hurt. They’re even minor situations not worthy of a spacious and breathtaking mausoleum or an epic sung by bards deep into the night.

Are you courageous enough to love?

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