Summer of Love

everyone's in everyone

We are blessed
We are loveless
We are cold and we are kind
We are stressed
We are so thankless
We are deaf and we are blind
We are pained and we are joyless
And we’re at a fork in the road
We go home to loving families
And we are sleeping in the cold*

Here in the MatternCo household, my better half is a high school teacher. This means we take summertime seriously.

We make bold proclamations that set the tones for our summers. The summers we both coached cross country were epic Summers of Running. When the marriage needed a little TLC? That was the Summer of Noel & Sarah. When we needed to buckle down and get some projects done? Summer of Work. Want to get outside more often? Summer of Adventure. You get the idea.

This summer, it feels like the world outside is ripping apart at the seams. More than usual, anyway.

So, this might be as good a time as any to declare this (despite all appearances to the contrary) a: Summer of Love.

I’ve been thinking about love a lot lately. And not just the loaded notion of romantic love or the familiar kind of family love.

I’ve been thinking about the broader kind of love that connects an individual with humanity, and even— or maybe especially— beyond humanity. That pure and uncomplicated and universal and maybe even eternal kind of love.

(Channeling your inner flower child yet? Turning up that Patrick Park?)

My husband and I spent late June walking through the English countryside. While we were there, my Britophilia grew beyond Dickens and Austen and the Great British Baking Show. Beyond the stunning open countryside, the amazing British trail system and the humanity of British Airways. Beyond even the engaged, informed and ever-polite British public.

OK, I admit it. I fell in love with England’s cows.

I should add that we did see more cows than people on our walks. And in each big, open, curious cow face I saw the same loving gazes of my creatures back home. They all seemed connected somehow.

We came home to our own house of creatures to find Porter, one of our elderly cats, doing very poorly. A week later, she died.

We weren’t ready for it.

This is, I suppose, how these kinds of things go when love is involved.

I should back up and tell you a little more about Porter, because it was a gift to know her. We adopted her and her brother from a litter of strays when my husband and I moved in together 17 years ago. She was the runt of the litter, was often bullied by her much larger and tougher brother, and liked to hide in my office closet.

Beyond her quirks, she was the most loving creature I ever met. If there was an open lap, she was in it. If there was a hand free, she was leaning toward it. If there was a sweet talk to be had, she would talk back.

Our last week with her, we had a sense the end was near, but neither of us wanted to admit it. We put her on a pillow on the bed between us and every time one of us reached out to touch her (which was every few minutes or so), she would purr.

On her last day, she left the pillow and our touches to hide under the bed. I slept on the floor with a hand under the bed so I could keep touching her anyway. We pulled her out while she was dying and placed our hands on her. Even then, our touches seemed to comfort her. At least I hope they did.

After her death, I decided I would try out a Porter philosophy to life. One where I would try to see that same pure loving spirit—that one that was in Porter and in the English countryside cows— in everyone I met.

A few days later I was at a client’s dog-friendly office and a dog went up to a man who came in for our meeting. The man cradled the dog’s head and they gazed into each other’s eyes. It was like they were lost, beloved friends who had finally found each other again. Nothing this man could say during our meeting could make me see him in any other way than that.

I’m convinced that same loving spirit is there in each of us. I know you are too. It gets harder to see when we’re too busy, too muddled, too self-aware. It gets buried under ego and anger and violence and desperation and fear. But it’s there.

We are blessed
We are restless
We are dumb, we are wise
We are young
We are old
We see the world through tired eyes
We are lost and we are found
And we are saved and depraved
We are poor and rich
And we are sure that it’s
Of love that we are made*

* These are Patrick Park’s lyrics to Everyone’s in Everyone. What can I say, I’m obsessed.

22 Responses

  1. Sarah, this is simply beautiful and loving and filled my summer-of-discontent with hope and sunflowers. So, thank you.

    1. Thank you so much Naomi. This is high praise coming from my favorite blogger! We will beat back that discontent together!

  2. Sarah. This is beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing. I went through this same kind of mourning last year when my best friend Emma, my dog I’d had since I was 14 yrs old and she was 9 weeks old, passed away pretty suddenly. We were there when she died, and it took a few months to figure out how to stop feeling sad and instead feel bittersweet about her memory. When we adopted our new pup, Penny, I couldn’t stop seeing the similarities in their habits and expressions, and it sometimes makes me feel like maybe Emma had been reincarnated to keep me company for another lifetime. It’s comforting to yet again experience how universal human experiences seem to go — in your self-reflection, I found myself reading and thinking, “yes, yes, yes.”

    Not to mention, Kona is certainly one of those loving spirits…maybe more so than most! I’m glad you got to see her love on a client. 🙂

    I like to think my purpose for living is to bring love and kindness to people’s lives, and, you’re right, I, too, can often forget when things get stressful, hectic, sad, or angering. Thanks for the reminder and gentle nudge. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Rosie! You are fulfilling that purpose of yours in style! How did you get to be so wise? I’m so glad you have another soul pup in your life. I appreciate your read & comment.

  3. Sarah, this is so wonderful and just what I needed. I’m struggling with some family relationships. I know love and compassion is the only solution. I managed to communicate this yesterday to my brother on his birthday, but I had to first overcome other negative emotions. Thanks for your beautiful words. Can I nag you to send me photos of your trip including cow photos?

    1. Thank you Chris! You’re the best! I’m glad you were able to express your love to your brother. I appreciate you reading and leaving a comment. I’ll send you some pics (although we are poor photographers!).

  4. Sarah – this is so beautifully written. I want to keep your message at the front of my mind as much as I can.

  5. This is amazing and wonderful Sarah. You are such a sweet and loving person and I’m lucky to call you my sister and best friend. Thanks for posting.

    1. Liam!!! You’ve made my day! Thanks so much for taking a look and leaving a comment. So looking forward to spending some time with you in August. xo

  6. Sarah, this is one of the finest, most hopeful and precious pieces of writing I have ever had the luck and grace to read. I wish the entire world could see it – and be as infected by your boundless love, your humanity, your strong spirit, your determination to see the beautiful when it’s very hard to find, as I am, constantly – by both your writing and our friendship. You are just the most remarkable soul. (And honestly, such a good writer that I’m jealous!) I will never, ever stop being thankful you became a greater presence in my life two years ago. It marked a profound moment/era for me. You have brought a perspective on life – how to see it and live it, what it means and doesn’t mean – that would likely have never factored into my own “musings” or efforts to rise above things I keep allowing to mire me down, were it not for our friendship. Thank you so much for writing and sharing this.

    1. Wow, thanks Jeanene! I really appreciate you taking a look and leaving such a sweet and wonderful comment! I am very grateful for your friendship too, and all the inspiration and empathy you provide. I look forward to getting to know you better… and to our creative collaborations as well! xo

  7. Oh my gosh! Sarah Mattern,…. you blow me away! This is simply amazing and inspiring, just like everything you do…. I truly enjoy reading everything you send out. Take care and enjoy each other.

    1. Kirstin!!! Thank you so much for subscribing, reading and commenting– it is wonderful to hear from you!

  8. I am late with my condolences. I’m sorry to read about your Porter, but I’m glad you were able to be with her at the end. <3

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