Instead of my usual cheerful salutation, I am here with a very heavy heart. There are no words to describe the pain and devastation that we witnessed in Uvalde, Tex. I have been thinking of little else, to be honest.

I spoke with my dear friend Renee and she asked me, “How are you gonna write Joy Drop this week?” I have been thinking about this online notebook entry and at some points this week, it didn’t feel like I could do it. The pain of the community reverberated globally and manifested through anger and sadness online. My own heart was breaking constantly. I cried, kissed my kids incessantly and cuddled with my cat, Tara, a lot. Animals bring me a lot of comfort.

As such, something caught my eye yesterday and I decided to dig a little deeper, my journalistic skills coming into play. I contacted the Twitter account Hockey Players With Animals (And Other Chaos) and saw some of the most wonderful photos and videos.

It is no surprise that one of my other favourite follows on the blue bird app is Footballers with animals — I have followed them for years. I love sports and simply adore animals so it is a perfect coupling of things that bring me joy. I reached out to Zena, the account holder of Hockey Players With Animals (And Other Chaos). She was kind enough to explain to me why she started this account a few weeks ago.

Her words resonated so deeply and I thought sharing them would be helpful.

“I started @animalsofhockey because I was in a pretty dark place and everything felt like it was spiralling,” Zena told me. “I’m part of a chat with a group of friends and one of them is a soccer fan who sent a photo of a player wih an animal. I didn’t know who the soccer player was, but it was cute and it made me happy regardless. I thought, wow, we need more photos of hockey players with animals circulating on here because that photo genuinely brought me joy and I’m a huge animal lover in general.

“And so the idea was born and I made the account within five minutes. It’s grown from there, and I’ve moved on from posting exclusively photos of hockey players with animals, to having more fun with the account and revealing more about myself. I really feel like I’m connecting with people and have been getting so many amazing responses about how the account helps people in their own lives. I let anyone who wants to submit a request to either submit a photo or the name of a player and also find some photos on social media myself. It’s been really great to see the account grow and bring people joy as it does so.”

I appreciate Zena so much. The timing of this account is perfect. A picture of your favourite athlete coming across with their fur baby is something we deserve as we continue to battle evils, keep steady and try to hold hope.

I think about the words of the late bell hooks: “Hope is essential to any political struggle for radical change when the overall social climate promotes disillusionment and despair.”

Usually, I wrap up this entry with a quote or song to share. But I kept coming back to these words spoken by actor Sean Astin in the second film of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Two Towers.

After being beaten up by exhaustion, barriers and challenges, Astin’s character, Samwise Gamgee, and Frodo Baggins (played by Elijah Wood) sit and discuss their journey and their perspectives. They are utterly spent. But Sam’s words are some of the ones that I look to often. “… there is good in the world. And it’s worth fighting for.”

Sometimes we are so depleted emotionally and mentally so taking time to remember why we must continue certainly helps me. This week was certainly one of those weeks. As we heal, it’s important to take the time to restore hope, cuddle animals and also feel the embrace of goodness in the world.

Here is a beautiful song from Enya called Hope Has A Place. This song is the perfect way to end my note to you. Be safe. Be just. And may you feel love and hope.