I think we can all agree that sometimes life teaches us the most important lessons in the toughest, most awful ways. Three times in the last few weeks I've been saddened by losses, and now that I can finally step back and look at the losses with a bigger lens I realize that I learned a very valuable lesson.
The first loss was the loss of my parents' dear cat, Janie. Now, I can already hear some of you starting that losing a cat is really not that big of a deal. And for you, that may be correct. But for those of us who love animals, losing a pet is really like losing a beloved family member. Our animals are the ones who love us unconditionally, never talk back to us or judge us, and are always there to greet us no matter how grumpy we are from a bad day. Her loss was especially bad because it coincided with my dad's birthday. I watched my mom and dad question their actions and what they could have done differently to prevent the situation.
The second loss was the loss of a beautiful young lady in my school district. I didn't know this girl, but her death has sent shockwaves through our community.
A final loss happened again to my parents. We thought we had found them a friendly, curious new kitten to fill the empty space left by Janie's passing. My parents and I spent about an hour and a half with her, my dad had named her, and she really seemed to be getting along with my mom. But through a very unfortunate event, that kitten passed away, too. For the next day all of us blamed ourselves. We didn't eat, we didn't really sleep, and we were constantly thinking things over. What we could have done differently? What we should have done differently? What would have made things turn out differently than they did? Unfortunately hindsight is always 20/20.... I absolutely hate it when people say it, but it is so true. We can always look back at a situation and think about what we should have done differently to get a more desired outcome. But the fact of the matter is, maybe that outcome that we wanted really isn't the one that we needed at the time.
So I mentioned that sometimes these awful situations help us learn valuable lessons. Here are my new learnings this week:
The first lesson I've learned is to follow my gut. In the case of both me and my parents, we each had that gut feeling about both cat situations, and we dismissed them. This isn't the first time this has happened to me. My gut typically gets things right, and I need to follow it a little more closely in the future. School wise, my gut has been telling me that is more important to focus on the kids and their well being than on test scores. This terrible tragedy solidifies this for me, and I am going to make it the focus of my year this year.
Another lesson is that we can't blame ourselves in many of these situations. We can "shoulda, woulda, coulda" ourselves until our hearts ache and until we feel like there is no way out. But the fact of the matter is that you can't ever go back in time and change things. There is always a reason we make the choices we make at the time we make them. We have to take what has happened, learn from it, and move forward (when we're ready) with those new lessons helping shape those steps.
What do you think are the most important lessons that you have learned from challenging situations? How have they shaped the person you are today?