Wednesday, April 15, 2009

For the love of dogs!

Muffin and Cocoa in Littleton, CO

January 1979

Dear Diary,
I gave my dog training lessons. I am teaching her how to sit. Her name is Muffin. She is doing very good. She is a black poodle."

The unsung heroes (and victims) of divorce are the pets. Jennifer had the perfect family--Mom, dad, big brother and a golden retriever. They lived in Marin County--the suburban gem of Northern California. The retriever was named Tamalpais Gold after Mount Tamalpais. But the family just called her Tam. (Mount Tamalpais is the highest peak in Marin County and is visible from San Francisco and the East Bay)

After the divorce was announced, the family's belongings were set out on the front lawn for a moving sale--including the dog. Jennifer remembers climbing a tree and giving dirty looks to anyone who admired the friendly dog with the "for sale" sign. Ultimately, Tam was sold to a Mom and Dad and Brother and Sister--a family just like Jennifer's but better--they owned a pool! Tam loved to swim, it was a perfect fit. Jennifer watched the non-divorced family take her dog away and she was devastated.

Jennifer's mom was wise. In Colorado, she got the family a dog, Muffin, the black poodle. On her tenth birthday, Jennifer got her own cat, Cocoa. There were a few gerbils in the mix as well.

Jennifer was stunned by the split of her family. Family is forever to a child. Jennifer had no concept that her parents had been strangers once. They had only been married ten years. Jennifer pretty much assumed they had been born married. But it became a fact, the bonds of marital love could and had been broken and Jennifer was left spinning in space. Animals became her anchor. Animal love is unconditional, unbreakable, undeniable.

Jennifer and Tam at their home in Lucas Valley

Jennifer and Tam at Stinson Beach, CA
Jennifer attended Dixie Elementary in San Rafael. She remembers being popular and happy. The art of being a kid came naturally. Her parents made the best decision for them. Jennifer can see that now. She also appreciates that the divorce went smoothly and her parents remained on good terms. However, losing her dad, her dog, her home, all her friends and changing schools had an everlasting impact on her. She became insecure. It would take her twenty years to get her mojo back.
(her great love of animals remains unchanged)

Divorce is the death of a family. If your family divorced--what was your anchor? What did you cling to for dear life?


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