Loving and Letting Go


Love is often hidden in the details. The caring for, the looking after, the worrying about, the providing for, details of life. My revelation is that love doesn’t always look like I think Love will look. Sometimes it doesn’t look like love at all.

Ten days ago I lost my best friend Sampson, an Australian Shepard/Chow mix after almost 17 years together. Our love had evolved from running in the woods and playing chase to his favorite pets and special snacks. Caring for my friend became my way to show him my love as I helped him to move around and found ways to make him comfortable in his last year here. He was still happy, sometimes frustrated, completely aware of his surroundings and still loving me.

His love was revealed in his patience, his teachings to me, his gentleness to all beings in his life, despite some of his physical discomforts and his choice to leave our life together on his own terms.

Love is often hidden within other emotions — regret, joy, happiness, sadness, heartache and empathy, to name a few. Peeling back the layers during this time has allowed me to see the love at the core of everything else.

A few years ago, Sampson told me this poem:
Letting go
Does not mean
Loving less
It means
Living more.

I’ve learned that love is revealed in many ways, including letting go. Without love, letting go is more like abandonment — and without letting go, love can resemble obsession. The balance between loving and letting go is like the perfect day to drink a fine wine, or the sweet spot of a tennis racquet or the moment when you “know” the right choice to make. Love reveals my edges, my growing places, my sore spots, and my strength. I’m drawn to seek that balance point between loving and letting go, like riding my horse bareback, relying on gravity, breath, centering, and awareness to keep me in the middle — still loving, still letting go…

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Jen Hillman
Jen Hillman of Cleveland Heights, OH, is a lifelong student of animals and a "recovering" engineer, currently a student and teacher of dogs, horses, and cats, who also works with people to facilitate personal growth and leadership skills in partnership with animals and nature as the owner of A Spirited Life, LLC.


  1. I read this to Michael and Cookie and Rowdy. Then I gave them all a hug and snack. Taking care of them because I love them.

    Thinking of you….Jennifer


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