Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Wait for Us

I've been putting off writing this post.  I haven't felt ready, and I still don't -- but I don't know if I'll ever really be ready.

We lost our dog Chance a little over a month ago.  He was our first baby, and this has been so, so difficult for us.  Quite honestly, it's still really hard to talk about and to think about.  We miss him so incredibly much.

His passing was unexpected.  A few months ago, he seemed perfectly healthy, and we even commented on how puppy-like he looked even though he was 11.  It's like he grew into an adult body but never lost his puppy face.

Then, in November, we knew something wasn't right with him.  He started acting weird.  He wasn't eating regularly, he moped around the house, and he just didn't seem himself.  We made several trips to the vet, and - at first - she thought he had Lyme disease.  She ran some tests and it wasn't Lyme.  At that point, she suggested we take him for an ultrasound as she was worried about his spleen.

That was right before Christmas.  The vet who did the ultrasound told us that Chance had tumors on his spleen that had spread to all of his vital organs.  He told us to enjoy the holidays with him and then prepare to say goodbye.  It still shocks me to think about those words.  He had seemed perfectly healthy a few weeks before, and now we were told we had less than a month to spend with him.

I was in denial at first -- this couldn't be happening -- and then I started moving through the common stages of grief on repeat: anger, bargaining, sadness... then back to shock and denial.  It seemed like a never-ending cycle.  There are days when it still does.

It just doesn't seem fair that you have to fit in the rest of a life in the span of a month.  How do you even do that?  How is it possible?  We had no idea how to do it, so we did all we could.  We kept him comfortable.  We spoiled him.  We loved him.

In the midst of all this sadness, we are so grateful we had the opportunity to say our goodbyes and be with him when he went to the rainbow bridge... but it was one of the hardest things we've ever had to do.  We still look for him to greet us at the door when we return from work.  We still hear the pitter-patter of his feet at night.  We still think we see him under our kitchen table when we glance down.  It still doesn't feel like he's gone.

My husband and I got him early in our relationship.  We had only been dating for about six months, and, looking back, it probably wasn't the smartest idea to get a dog together that soon (but obviously it all worked out).  So what makes this even harder is that Chance was there for everything with us.  My husband and I have barely known each other without Chance in our lives.

The night we had to say goodbye, I kept telling him how much I loved him and that he better wait for us up there - that we would see each other again.  And I know we will.  I know.

In the meantime, though, I don't want to forget all of the wonderful memories he created for us.  Our lives are better because he was in them.  He was part of our family and always will be.

* * * * *
I'll never forget the day he became part of our family.  He was so little and he had such big ears and big paws.  He slept on my lap on the car ride home, and I remember crying tears of joy because I was so happy he was ours.

I'll never forget taking him to puppy kindergarten where he never listened to anything but won all the doggie races... and the hearts of everyone there.

I'll never forget all of the times we came home to chewed up shoes, books, remotes, pillows...
You name it; he chewed it.

I'll never forget taking him for walks in the snow and for hikes through the woods.  He loved being outside and exploring.

I'll never forget the day I went into labor with our son and Chance laid with me on the couch, his head resting on my baby belly.

I'll never forget that bark.  Never.

I'll never forget all the kisses and snuggling.  I'll never forget how much love he gave us.

* * * * *
Chance was taken from us all too soon, but he gave us more than we could ever ask for.  He was the BEST dog in the whole wide world, and we will never forget his unconditional love for us.

We miss you more than anything, buddy, and we'll love you forever.

Wait for us.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Stillness is the Hardest Part of My Day

I haven't been sleeping.  

Not well, I mean.  I get a few hours here and there, but not enough to feel fully functional the next day.  I only fall asleep when my mind finally stops out of pure exhaustion, not because my thoughts stop.  Has that ever happened to you?  Your mind keeps running and running and won't turn off until your body physically can't keep you awake anymore.  

Last night,  I headed upstairs after 11 and, even though I knew I shouldn't, I kept looking at the clock: 


2:38 was the last time I remember seeing...

...until 3:03 when my son yelled for me to walk him to the bathroom.  He gets scared at night -- even with the night lights.  (I can't blame him.  I hate the dark, too.)

When I got back in bed, the whole cycle started over again.  I said to my husband earlier in the night that I try not to think and worry about everything, but the only time I'm still all day is when I get in bed.  

And it's that stillness I avoid.  All.  Day.  Long.  

Stillness brings with it all that uninterrupted time for my innermost thoughts to surface.  Stillness makes me think and rethink and try to process and rewind and fast forward.  It's not easy to turn your brain off when it's on such a roll. 

But when I'm alone with my innermost thoughts, I get sad.  Really sad.  So sad that I can't sleep, and then the clock-watching begins.    

I feel guilty when I shift my thoughts to other things that help me relax, things like lying on the beach, soaking up the sun.  I try to get myself in a state of mind where my body and mind can relax.  But then the feelings of guilt start.  I feel like my thoughts should be with my dog and my grandmother right now.

* * * * *

Before my Nana was moved into hospice, I remember the doctor at the hospital saying that she was actively dying

Actively dying.  Actively dying.  What does that even mean?  

Technically, we're all actively dying.  

Is that morbid or what?

It's kind of like that half full/half empty glass thing.  Are we actively dying, or actively living?

It's all about perspective.

But perspective is a hard thing to have when you feel like time isn't on your side.  When you feel like you're just waiting for that dreaded phone call.  When you feel like today is the last day you may spend with your loved one.

I know so many people go through loss, but that doesn't mean this isn't difficult.  It's all difficult.  Life is hard.

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Holidays Sucked This Year

So, I was going to title my post "Goodbye, 2015... Hello, 2016!"

...but then I thought I should keep things real around here.

Ya know, because that's how I roll.

Let me begin by saying that I hope your holidays did not suck.  I hope they were magical and special and memorable.

Personally, I find the latter half of the year to be stressful, depressing, and fast-paced.  There is never enough time in the day to get everything done that needs to get done.  And the commercials and the Christmas music and the traffic and the storefronts are all reminders of the bustling holiday season that I never feel lives up to the hype that the anticipation creates.

This holidays this year were hard on us.  My grandmother had been in and out of the hospital, in a nursing home, in hospice care, and is now back in a nursing home but is receiving hospice care there.  She is very sick and there's nothing more that can be done for her.  We have been visiting her just about every day because, well, what else can you do?  I want to spend as much time as I can with her while we have her here.  She was always there for me when I was a child, and so I want to return the favor.  I leave there with tears in my eyes, always wondering if that's the last time I'll see her alive.  It's morbid to think about it like that, but I can't help it.  I just want her to know she is loved.

Then, back in November, our dog started acting weird.  We had him in and out of the vet's office getting all kinds of tests, and we found out about a week ago that he has tumors all over his insides. We were told to enjoy the holidays with him and then put him down.  Needless to say, we are all a wreck over the news.  We still haven't fully digested it.  At times, we're in denial; other times, we're incredibly sad... it's like we can't even fully process what we were told, especially because we just lost our other dog back in April.

Our vet gave us some medication for him and, right now, we're taking it day by day, but we don't know how long he will last without being in pain.  I can't talk about it too much without getting overwhelmed and breaking down.  Between my grandmother and our doggie, this holiday season has been a roller coaster of emotions.

We spent Christmas day avoiding the big family gathering -- we just wanted a quiet Christmas this year.  And, to be honest, I'm tired of family drama.  So we visited my grandmother and my husband's grandmother in their respective nursing homes, and we made a ham and stayed home.

The past two months, my husband and I have just felt "off."  I don't know how else to explain it; we just don't feel ourselves.  We're not sleeping well (or very much), we don't really go anywhere except to visit my grandmother because we don't want to leave our dog alone, and we are so unhappy in our jobs.

Lately, I've been on edge, irritable, easily annoyed... you name it.  I've been lashing out on my husband and son, neither of whom deserve it.  My stress is manifesting itself in so many different ways -- both physically and emotionally.

I didn't plan on this being such a depressing post, but this is a snapshot of our lives right now.  And, on this last day of 2015, I look back and think of how much has happened over this past year.  I can't believe it's December 31st, but I'm glad it is.

Though I know we have so much to be thankful for, I still hope the new year is better.