Saying goodbye

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Isn’t it interesting how quickly our priorities change when a loved one is sick.

I said goodbye to my best friend and companion this week. There have been some small indications here and there that told us she hasn’t been feeling all that well, but mostly she seemed just fine. She even had a great run on the beach the night before she became sick.

Piper was a birthday gift to me (and my son) in 2003. I have never received a more precious or meaningful gift and I will forever be grateful to the person who gave her to me. In our 12.5 years together, she has comforted, consoled, cheered and entertained me, all the while making me feel like I need to be the best person I can be for her. She was, in so many ways, my soul mate.

This amazing dog and faithful companion has been the most unique creature I have ever met, and having her in my life has been one of my greatest pleasures. I never could have imagined that it would be possible to be so in love with an animal, but that is the only way to describe the depth of my feelings for her. I think she knew it, too, because I constantly smothered her with love. I think anyone who knew me had a good idea of special my relationship with her.

It’s the little things that really set me off. The missing sounds, mostly. Before, there was always a sound of some sort in the house; Clicking nails on the wood floor, the heavy sigh as she plopped down after following me from room to room, “talking” to me when she wanted my attention, and my favorite – the grumbling as she did her full body “rub” on the couch. In the mornings she would click her way to my side of the bed and lean against the bed with her face near mine for her morning ear scratch. Then she would stand there, thumping her tail on the bed. If she slept a little later than me she would come out of the room with slow, sleepy blinks and a low wagging tail as she slowly came to life and shed the sleepy veil. These are the little things that I miss the most. I don’t even want to think about how much I’ll miss her when I swim in the ocean for the first time in 13 years without her. God, I miss her.

While in the waiting room at the emergency vet I met a woman who was there with her 10yo Golden. She was alone. I cannot imagine going through this alone and I am so glad that my husband Ben was in town for this incredibly sad moment. My son, Justin, was also able to be with us as we gave her a last supper double hamburger and to hold her head in our hands as she drifted to sleep, and then took her last breath. There is a hole in my heart that will never be filled, but will be forever occupied by the memories of our time together. I’m sure it will get easier as time goes on, but I can’t imagine that time yet. Right now, I can barely mention her name without sobbing. Leaving her at the animal hospital felt like leaving my 12yo child, and coming home to an empty house was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. My house is not a home without her.

Rest in peace, my precious golden friend. You will not be forgotten.

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A Pirate Looks at Forty

Since I was about 25 years old I imagined myself listening to Jimmy Buffett sing A Pirate Looks at Forty on my fortieth birthday.

A month and a half after my fortieth birthday I realized that I completely forgot to listen to that song….

Seriously? What kind of a Parrothead am I? As punishment, I am requiring myself to read all of his books again. That’ll teach me!

A year of lasts and a year of firsts

Last year was a painful year of lasts with Dad – last birthday, last Halloween, last Thanksgiving, last birthday for me, last Christmas, a New Year realizing the coming year was going to be incredibly difficult, etc….

I had not considered until recently how this year would be even more painful as we suffer through an agonizing year of firsts without him. So far I have had several moments where I thought to call him, but realized I will never hear his voice on my phone again. His birthday was tough and my birthday and Thanksgiving were tougher, but I fear that none of those compare with the approaching Christmas season. I somehow made it through my birthday & Thanksgiving without having any major breakdown, mostly because we focused on the joy of having my mother here & my son home for a night of celebrating his 21st birthday. It was a much more pleasant weekend than I had been expecting.

Christmas will be a bit lonelier, leaving me much more time for reflection. My mother will be going to Kansas City to spend Christmas with my brother and niece, and my son will be going to Aiken to spend Christmas with his dad. I will be working both the night of Christmas Eve and Christmas night, so we are basically skipping the holiday. I’m not sure this is the best idea, but it’ll be over in 23 days… I just have to hang on till then.

Next year should be milder, save for the anniversaries that are forever etched into my memory. I don’t think I’ll ever stop thinking about May 1st (May Day) as the beginning of the end. That was when the brain mets made their debut. And EAA AirVenture will forever be tainted with a bit of sorrow, because we found out about the cancer days before I spent a week at Oshkosh last year, and he passed away days after I spent a weekend at Oshkosh this year.

I know I’ll never stop missing him and wishing he could be here to banter with, but I look forward to a time when the pain is a little less sharp.

For crying out loud!

Over the past year I’ve heard countless times from a handful of people words of gratitude for trusting them enough to cry in front of them. What is that? Seriously, I’m a human. Humans cry sometimes. I don’t really try to control who sees me cry. I am who I am and I make no apologies for crying and I don’t ask permission to show emotion. I certainly don’t reserve my tears for special people. My tears are 100% unbiased. It’s not a compliment, folks.

Ok, let’s be honest. It’s really more a matter of me not being strong enough to control it… or being too passionate to suppress emotion. I must admit that I have actually apologized (many times) for crying at work. I have no control. Sometimes I think it’s a positive thing, that I’m just so passionate about life that my emotions spill over. Other times I see it as a negative thing, a weakness. I think that in reality it’s a little bit of both. I have always been a strong and independent person, so crying at inopportune times just makes me feel weak, and I loathe weakness. But I wouldn’t really be me if I hardened my heart, so I’ve no desire to change.

My point is, why do people think life is so hard that they would need to “trust” someone enough to cry in front of them. If you need to cry, just cry, for crying out loud!

Life isn’t really so hard. Be yourself. Live, laugh, love, and try not to take life so seriously. Nobody gets out alive, anyway. And unless you invent some world changing device your life isn’t going to be scrutinized to the point that anyone really cares if you cry in front strangers or not. Just live your life one moment, one day, at a time.