Weekly Photo Challenge: Love

This week’s photo challenge from the Daily Post inspired me to write about the loves of my life. Love comes in many different shapes; from people to animals, from old to new, from far away to close by. Love is always around, but most appreciated in difficult times. For me, it took battling a depression to realise that I was surrounded by love.

The first

The first loves of my life are without a doubt my parents and my sister. They have been there for me every step of the way. From childhood until now, through the good and the bad, unconditionally. Family, you can make mistakes and they will forgive you. You can have fun and they will laugh with you. You can be sad and they will comfort you. No matter what, they will love you.

I will never forget and not take for granted what my parents and sister did for me when I struggled with depressions. Day or night, if I needed them they would be there. Either on the phone or by driving across the country to be with me. Last year when I trusted nobody and hardly dared to leave the house, they encouraged me to take therapy. And in the difficult beginning, they would even accompany me to therapy sessions. They inspired me to believe in myself. I truly owe them my life and for that I will always grateful. I will love them for life and can only hope to return the favour whenever they need it.

A family snapshot on a cold day on the beach
A family snapshot on a cold day on the beach

The old

Then there are the old friends, whom you have known half your life. What I love about old friends is that you know each other through and through. There is no need to pretend to be someone else. It’s so easy to be yourself with them. Last year, I didn’t have to explain anything about my depression and therapy. They just knew and understood, having seen me struggle through life before. I could just visit them and be me. I could be happy if I felt happy or sad when I felt sad. Sometimes we would talk extensively about my troubles. At other times we would just hang out and enjoy each other’s company. The love of old friends is priceless!

The new

Almost four years ago, I got a great job offer. Taking this job meant that I had to move to the other side of the country to a city where I didn’t know anybody. I started playing volleyball here in Delft and quickly made some new friends. It’s easy to make friends when you’re feeling good and happy. We were having dinner parties, going to pubs and doing other fun friend stuff.

However, when I became sick and my old friends and family where far away, these new friends were there for me. It was amazing how the pulled through. They would take turns in cooking for me, making sure I got out of my house and ate some healthy food. A few of them had suffered from depression themselves or had family members who suffered from it. With them I could talk about the difficult decisions I had to make during my therapy. Others had no clue about depression, but were still there to cook for me or take me out on fun adventures. It still amazes me how these friends, who I had known only for a short period of time, were there for me when it counted. I love them to pieces for it!

The pets

Then there are the animals in my life. When I was younger, I always wanted a cat and a dog. However, my parents hated that the neighbourhood cats were always peeing in our garden. With respect to the dog, my dad was convinced we would probably walk the dog the first week and then leave it to him. Therefore, a dog was also out of the question. I must say, he was probably right.

My grandfather sometimes had cat litters. My dad still tells me about how I would call him and say “Dad, grandpa has really cute kittens. Could I please bring one home?”. Of course the answer was always no. When my parents moved to their new house, we had to clean out their attic. In one of the many boxes filled with childhood memories we found a little note. It was orange and star-shaped and it said (freely translated from Dutch):

My wish for 1987 is
that there are no more wars in the world,
and that my mom and dad will give me a little kitten.

Apparently, I always wanted cats. Even when I moved out, I couldn’t buy a cat because my roommates were extremely allergic. The moment my roommates moved out I immediately bought a kitten. Now ten years later, that little kitten has grown into a beautiful cat who still lives with me. He’s always waiting behind my front door when I come home from work, ready to crawl onto my lap and sleep there all evening if he gets the chance. There’s nothing so good as a cute pet waiting for you to come home.

A month ago, I finally granted myself my other childhood wish. I saw the cutest dog ever on the website of an animal shelter close to where I live. The next day, me and my friend went over to the shelter to check out this cutie. He stole my heart and is now living happily together with me and my cat. He loves my cat. My cat is not completely convinced yet, but seems to be coming around.

So after 34 years of wishing for cats and dogs, I have finally have a cat and a dog waiting for me when I come home. There’s no love, like a pet’s love!

I can true-heartedly state: I LOVE MY LIFE!

If you are struggling with depression now, or with any other grieves or difficult times, dare to rely on the love of your family and friends. Trust them and share your troubles with them. It will ease your journey and brighten your life!

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