Finding Beauty & Strength in Pain

DenaOctober 28, 2010

October has always been one of my favorite months. Halloween is my favorite holiday. Autumn in New Jersey is gorgeous—the air smells crisp & sweet, of wonderful things like apple cider, pumpkin pie, & fallen leaves. The trees are afire with ghastly splashes of red, orange, and yellow—the sky is like the great fiery breath of a dragon! So many splendid colours to be seen atop the trees this time of year.

However, this October has been so difficult for me. My cat, Mika, died on October 9th and just two days ago, on Tuesday, October 26, we had to put my family’s dog, Dozer, down. He was a tiny teacup Chihuahua. I brought him home from spring break in Daytona, Florida in 2005. He was only five years old, but he was a very sickly dog. Over the past five years, I have spent over five thousand dollars in medical bills trying to make him well.

Despite his illness, we did whatever it took to keep him happy. My mother spent hours boiling rice & chicken breast and cutting it into tiny cubes for him. We spent even more hours cleaning carpets, taking him to doctors appointments, and cuddling him through the hard times.


This last time, though, the sickness was too great. My mother and I knew that it was time to put an end to his suffering. Of course we were heartbroken and cried until both of our eyes were nearly swollen shut.

I’ve never experienced such sadness and loss in my adult life—and then suddenly came the month of October—and I went through it twice.

Still, I am seeking the beauty and the light through the darkness. I am remembering all of the beautiful times I shared with my sweet pets. I am grateful for the memories & the time we shared. I am grateful for all of the smiles that they put on my face. I am grateful for the kisses, the purring, the cuddles.

The Universe works in mysterious ways. It is not for us to ask—Why? Why me? Instead, it is up to us to say: Thank you. Thank you for the time we had together. Thank you for granting me the strength to make it through this. Thank you for the beautiful autumn outside my window.

I’ve spent enough time mourning. I’ve spent enough time making excuses. It’s time to move forward now, to grow, to harness the strength that I’ve acquired through these trials and turn it into light to be shared with everyone around me.

In life, we always have choices. Even in the face of the greatest difficulties, we make a choice to be a victim or a creator.

The victim asks: Why me? She spends her time crying, complaining, and feeling sorry for herself. She assigns blame as much as possible. She blames, God, luck, fate, the people around her. She falls into a weeping mess and refuses to move forward. She wallows in her losses & defeats.

The victim chooses darkness over light. She chooses suffering over hope. She chooses weakness over strength. She chooses fear over beauty.

The creator says: Thank you. She cries when she needs to cry and then she picks herself up. She takes her pain and she transforms it into light, love, & wisdom. She thanks God, luck, fate, and the people around her for allowing her to shine. She keeps her head up & always moves forward. She learns from her mistakes & becomes greater for them.

The creator chooses light over darkness. She chooses hope over suffering. She chooses strength over weakness. She chooses beauty over fear.

Today I am making the choice to be a creator. What about you?

Rest in Peace, Mika & Dozer. ♥♥

Comments (28)

  • Dena Botbyl

    October 28, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    evolution you | Finding Beauty & Strength in Pain

  • Jon Berry

    October 28, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    "Even in the face of the greatest difficulties, we make a choice to be a victim or a creator." @denabotbyl

  • Dena Botbyl

    October 28, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    RT @jonberry: "Even in the face of the greatest difficulties, we make a choice to be a victim or a creator." @denabotbyl

  • Dena Botbyl

    October 28, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    evolution you | Finding Beauty & Strength in Pain

  • Dena Botbyl

    October 28, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    [New post, finally!] evolution you | Finding Beauty & Strength in Pain

  • verhext

    October 29, 2010 at 12:01 am

    I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s so, so hard. I wasn’t ready to have another cat for 4 years after mine died suddenly.

    Last winter within 3 weeks I lost 2 of the women I was most close to in my family/life – it was unbelievable and shocking. I held their light close to me, but I also let myself mourn, am still mourning every day. It’s profound, that kind of loss. But they created me, they gave me life, and I am so grateful.

    1. Dena

      October 29, 2010 at 9:37 am

      @ Verhext – Is your first name Tamera? That is gorgeous.

      Thank you so much for visiting & for your kind words. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your cat & about last winter. I can not imagine how difficult that must have been. I’ve never experienced loss like this before. I’ve been blessed thus far. As difficult as this has been, I know it is happening for a reason — I am stronger for it. Perhaps I am better prepared for what is to come next.

      The fact that you look at your situation with gratitude is just beautiful. It speaks volume about you as a woman, as a wonderful soul.

      I am really happy to have met you & look forward to know you better.


  • Dena Botbyl

    October 29, 2010 at 12:17 am

    evolution you | Finding Beauty & Strength in Pain

  • Dena Botbyl

    October 29, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    evolution you | Finding Beauty & Strength in Pain

  • Dena Botbyl

    October 29, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    @galadarling For Carousel: Finding Beauty & Strength in Pain (P.S. Pterodactyl on a bicycle!! YES.)

  • carol

    October 29, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    This post is beautiful. I lost my father only three months ago, and it’s been pretty difficult but everyday I remember him, how funny he was, and how much of him is in me and I keep walking.

    1. Dena

      October 29, 2010 at 7:06 pm

      @ Carol – Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your father, but I am inspired and amazed that you are able to look at the situation in such a positive, beautiful way. “He is in me and I keep walking.”

      You are amazing. Your father must have been (must be) so incredibly proud of you.

  • cube_ice

    October 30, 2010 at 7:05 am
    Finding Beauty & Strength in Pain

  • Lori

    October 30, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    I have a cat that means the world to me. I feel she is a once-in-a-lifetime cat and a soul mate. I’m very protective of her.

    Something odd has been happening in my house, and it has changed how I view death.

    We have ghost in our house. It’s not a human; it’s a cat ghost. It jumps on our beds at night and walks and purrs. I have a housemate and I asked him one day if he ever felt like a cat jumped on his bed, only to see nothing.

    To my shock, he said said “Yes!” Just like me, he feels the impact on the bed and feels it take a couple of steps – and then nothing.

    One night, it jumped on my bed with such force that all the springs creaked. I always think it’s my own living cat when it happens. A few nights ago, it jumped up and walked the length of the bed, purring the whole way. Thinking it was my cat for sure, I said “Hi Sweetie” and raised my hand to pet her, but nothing was there. I turned the light on and walked all around the room. My cat wasn’t even in the room.

    The ghost cat will never jump on my bed as long as my cat is sleeping with me. It will only come when she isn’t in the room, which means it only happens once every week or two because she is usually with me. One night, my cat fell asleep on the sofa. When the ghost cat jumped on my bed, I thought it was her coming to bed. There was nothing there, so I checked the living room and my cat was still on the sofa.

    I own two cats and I am involved with a cat rescue organization. I don’t have any idea where this cat ghost came from, but a couple of friends have suggested that maybe it was drawn to me from seeing me care for other cats.

    I did some internet research on this and found that many people have had this experience. I even saw a book about ghost cats on Amazon. A lot of the reviewers said the book made them cry because most of the stories involve cats coming back to visit their owners.

    I can’t deny that this has freaked me out, but it has also given me a gift. If this unknown cat can visit me from the other side, then I know I will always be connected to my own cats and I will meet them again. I can no longer speculate on the sad possibility that life ends at death.

    I hope this brings you comfort. As weird as it’s been, it has brought me comfort.

    1. Dena

      October 31, 2010 at 8:41 am

      @ Lori – Wow! Thank you so much. You know, this does bring me comfort! In fact, I have a similar experience and you’ve helped me remember it. See, my godfather inherited my great grandmother’s farm/boarding house many, many years ago. He has lived there ever since. Now if ever a house were haunted–this is it. And moreover, it’s not the entire house, just the upstairs.

      The house is well over a hundred years old. Every time I go upstairs the hair on my body stands on end. it can be ten degrees colder up there than it is in the rest of the house for no explainable reason.

      Anyway, ten-twenty years ago my godfather had frequent parties. One night his friend stayed over and in one of the upstairs bedrooms. In the morning my godfather asked his friend how he slept. His friend replied, “I slept fine except for that your cat jumped up on the bed all night and walked around on my legs.

      Well, needless to say–my godfather didn’t have a cat. His cat–Gypsy–who was more like a member of the family than a pet had died a few months earlier. To this day — every now and then — she still visits.

      It’s sort of incredible, yes! But somehow it is soothing. We are never really alone.

      Thanks again for sharing. Please visit again! <3

  • Dena Botbyl

    October 31, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    RT @cube_ice:
    Finding Beauty & Strength in Pain

  • Lori

    October 31, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Oh boy! The cat hasn’t walked on me yet, but as time has gone on, the incidents have gradually become more strong and undeniable. The purring only happened recently. But there was always that unmistakable sensation that only a cat makes when it jumps on a bed.

    I am agnostic. I tend to think there is a God, or at least that there is something out there, but feel no need to define it. I’ve known people who have told me of personal ghost incidents, and as long as I knew them to be a truthful person I pretty much believed them. And many of the stories were wonderful, uplifting and positive ones with deceased family members.

    It was those stories that made me think there was an afterlife. But I’ve also allowed myself at times to entertain the idea that maybe death is the end even though that made me sad. I guess I was trying to keep an open mind.

    Now I can’t even consider the idea that there is an end at all!!! When it happens to you personally, it’s different than when you hear it from someone else.

    Oh, and it’s funny that the upstairs was colder. Usually upstairs rooms are a lot warmer since heat rises. Glad my experience helped. I was a little afraid you’d think I was off my rocker. 😉

  • Brian

    November 1, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    I choose the light! Great entry…very timely for me as well, although not the death of a beloved animal, the death of a beloved relationship. The past few months have been difficult, and it looks like things will not work out as I had hoped. That said; this article points out the need to continually strive, build, and create light, even what may seem like a dark hour. Thanks Dena.

    1. Dena

      November 1, 2010 at 4:10 pm

      @ Brian – I am so excited to hear that you’ve chosen the light. Great decision, friend. I’m sorry to hear about the death of your beloved relationship; but it sounds like you are in the right place to move forward and create even more love in the future. Thank you so much for stopping by, for sharing, and for helping me to spread the light. You are wonderful.

  • Amy

    November 1, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    So sad to hear about your pets! Take care of yourself girl, and allow yourself the time to grieve. They really become like our children. x

    1. Dena

      November 2, 2010 at 9:45 am

      @ Amy – Thank you, love. It has been incredibly difficult — I didn’t know what to expect as I’d never been through this before. It is not often in life, but this situation was in reality WORSE than I ever imagined it could be. So much pain.

      But, I am healing. Every day is a bit easier than the one before. I’ve found a way to replace the grief with love.

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  • Mary

    November 22, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. We lost our 14-year-old grey tabby Zoey on Thursday. She had a mammary mass removed a year ago and the disease returned and spread to her lungs so we had to make the decision of letting her go.

    It’s extremely difficult right now but I have saved this post as a reminder of how to move on when I am ready. I have definitely been replaying all her crazy, silly, funny antics over in my mind and I know one day they will not be so bittersweet.

    1. Dena

      November 22, 2010 at 12:26 pm

      @ Mary – I am so sorry to hear about Zoey. 14 years! I can only imagine what that sort of bond must be like. Just through your words, I can tell that you loved her deeply and that she knew it.

      I will be thinking of you & sending love your way. Stay strong and I am so happy to know that this post helped you in some small way. xo

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  • roberta

    February 23, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    wow…dena i was crying reading your post about your pets….i saw the picture of your little doggie…and it reminds me of our lulu…i don’t know how i would be able to handle it…but i guess from your readings we must move forward…i know i will need to come back to this sometime in my life…thanks dena

    1. Dena

      February 23, 2011 at 3:07 pm

      @ Roberta – It is without a doubt the hardest thing that I have gone through in my life. When I lost my Mika I didn’t even want to go on. To this day, when I get reminded, it is like a knife to my heart. Extremely painful. I just do my best to replace the pain with love. It’s the only way to go on.

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