By Jill Parshley-Cardillo
My first love was my Teddy Bear. He was black and white and furry all over. I took him with me everywhere. I lost him in Jackson Heights, NY while accompanying my mom as she helped one of our relatives move. That was my first funeral; burying Teddy without his actual corpse. He still remains a missing persons file within the open cases of my heart.
My second love was my parakeet. He was 5 shades of blue. Periwinkle, cobalt, navy, sky and stone. I had never seen colors on a life, and a flying life at that! I only knew such things from my Crayola crayon box. Some kids find it daunting to shower, but I looked forward to the aftermath of the project, how he’d sit on my shoulder and sip from my wet hair. We’d play war using my parent’s red cocktail straws as bows and arrows and he would hide from me in between the couch cushions chirping. We played cops and robbers. We shared the sesame seeds from my buttered rolls together at breakfast.
I grew so much more sensitive about death after my parakeet died. Movies like E.T. were too much for me. Still too much for me. I was 30 when Finding Nemo was on the big screen, I was already blubbering at the first scene when he loses his mother. Anxiously, I hoped she’d come out from behind the coral reef. “Any second….any second!!” She never came. I tried laughing at the funny parts of the flick, but I was still stuck grieving over the croaked clown fish. Forget about King Kong or Frankenstein…I can’t even go there.
When Eric Garner was killed in 2014, I screamed at the TV, “He was only selling Loosies!!” as I cried hysterically. When the Turkish father was holding his dead daughter’s hand reaching out from underneath the rubble after the Turkey-Syria earthquake, my eyes painfully wept. It would be so easy to build a wall up around one’s heart after watching the news.
Eventually I lost my Godfather, both my parents, more pets, friends, neighbors, plants, teachers, and a dear ex- boyfriend. I’m only in my late 40’s. I know I have much more to lose.
Then…”Why love?” I ask myself often. Why love if one knows that at the end, there will be an end. The old adage comes to mind, on cycle, rinse and repeat, “It’s better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.”
I can’t imagine not being married to my husband now. I know he is a two- time cancer survivor, I know he is a type 1 diabetic, I know one day in the far future, he may not be around. But, he is a trooper and we continue to face the light. Like those miraculous office plants, you know the ones, the dusty Golden Pothos in the corner near the water cooler tank. They get glimpses of the warm morning sunrise through the blinds, their leaves turn towards the light, and they keep growing. It’s in their nature. I believe it’s in our nature too. They exhale and we inhale. The cycle of life continues.
If my soulmate and I have 40 years left together, I’d rather enjoy every minute of it together than never enjoy it at all. Imagine if I gave up, and threw Love away? Imagine, all of date-night movies unseen, the sunsets never watched, the laughs silenced, the tears cried as one howl, now a draught. The empty bed, the hungry belly with homemade meals never shared, the twinkling stars never wished upon together.
Connection. It’s all about connection. That is why you are here. Okay, Love hurts. I get it now. And I don’t care. I LOVE love. LOVE love with me. From now on, I vow to myself, I will always give Love the opportunity to live. Always. I am sure, without a doubt, Teddy would be very proud of me.