Tuesday, May 31, 2016

things i learned in May ...

i'm joining today for the first time with [emily p. freeman], author of a book that really had an impact on me  "[a million little ways]"   
May was a hard month for us; a very emotional month with three deaths, a father in hospice, a sister getting surgery for cancer, and the pain that a father felt when he unintentionally disappointed his daughter.

hard times are usually the teachers of hard lessons, lessons you aren't likely to forget anytime soon.  but hard times can also give us priceless memories that we wouldn't trade for anything.  May gave us both.
  • death can take someone we love from the physical world, but it will never take them out of our hearts.  we can cherish the memories we have of them, grieve over missing them, hold tight to the things that remind us of them.  they are still there with us in spirit.  love never dies.  Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.  ~ 1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT
  • even when things seem so dark you doubt there will ever be light again, know this:  there are still stars that shine behind the clouds; the reason we can see the moon in the sky is because it is reflecting the light of the sun; and no matter how much it feels like it is the end of the world ... it's already tomorrow in Australia.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.  ~ John 1:5 NLT
  • there are things in this world that we won't ever understand.  why do things happen?  why her? why him?  why us?  why me?  we can "why" and "what if" our lives away because we are so focused on the questions and not on the answers.  there are things we are not meant to know, and all we can do is keep waking up, keep stepping forward, keep moving, keep trusting, and keep believing.  What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead.  ~ Hebrews 11:1 TLB
  • family is a loose term that can include friends, ex's, fosters, and steps in addition to those related by blood.  regardless of how you define your own family unit, the one thing that will always be true is that no matter what the relationship is between you, respect, forgiveness, and love will be what holds you together when times are difficult.  when there is no respect and no forgiveness the family unit will collapse.  A family cannot last if it is divided against itself.  ~ Mark 3:25 NLV
  • that being said ... family ties, blood, marriage, or otherwise, does not give someone the right to demean, insult, or disrespect you.  one of the hardest things about self-esteem and self-care is remembering that it is not selfish or unreasonable to expect respect from those who call themselves family.  there may be times when you have to cut ties and move on without someone in your life because their presence is negative, toxic and unhealthy.  “Proud,” “Self-important” and “One who laughs at the truth” are the names of the man who acts without respect and is proud.  ~ Proverbs 21:24 NLV
  • this was the month i learned about rhubarb.  this picture is of the patch of rhubarb in the yard of our rental house.  this month i've learned how to 'harvest' and freeze rhubarb.  i got (and taste tested) a recipe for rhubarb crumble [see here] and will be pinning more to try.  the flower/seed pod coming up i will probably let come up and flower instead of cutting it back.  there are several bunches of rhubarb growing in the yard and wild across the street that i will harvest from, but i'd really like to see the flower.
  • i also learned that i have value, much more than what others think. and that it is okay for me to stick to what i believe.  it is okay to agree to disagree, and i don't have to accept less than my worth for work i believe in.

Friday, May 27, 2016

at what cost love?

last December a friend contacted us about taking in her cat
she needed to "downsize" her number of animals because
she didn't have time for them
too much drama in her life

Aragorn has a laid back personality
immediately walking into the house, brushing up against Trooper
and claiming us as his own

two months later,
his previous owner asked if she could buy him back
$50 was the price she named for his love
her life was just as hectic as before
even more
but she claimed she missed him

we told her we weren't interested in selling him
he had bonded by then, with us and with Trooper
and his funny little habits made our lives richer
far richer than money could buy
five months later he grieved for Trooper just as we did

there are changes coming for us soon
(cue willie nelson and on the road again)
we weren't sure if we would be able to move with Aragorn
and we reached out to his previous owner,
wanting to do what was best for him, we asked
was she still interested in getting him back?

we made arrangements to meet and return him
(cue whitney houston and i will always love you)
and she rescheduled because of family drama
she assured us she would be at the second set meeting
and so we arrived this afternoon,
with a highly stressed and scared cat in the car
(cue tears and gut wrenching commercials on television for animal shelters)

she wasn't there.  she wasn't even in town.

David and i discussed again moving with Aragorn
he had gotten used to being an only "child"
being lavished with time and attention
since Trooper passed,
our bond had grown even stronger

when his former owner contacted us to reschedule again
we told her that we had reconsidered and decided that
he would stay with us and we would make a move,
including him, work because we felt it was the best for him

she offered $50 again
i told her that there wasn't a price you could put on love
and she replied with the promise of "lots more money"

when i read those words
the thought of Judas Iscariot came to mind
and the 30 pieces of silver that bought his love

i told her no, that i couldn't put a price on love
she replied that if i wasn't willing to sell him back to her
for $400 then i could 'just forget it" and i could keep him
which i agreed would be the best for Aragorn

there isn't a price you can put on unconditional love
especially the unconditional love we get from our companion animals
could we have used that much money?
of course.  who couldn't?
but i never would have forgiven myself if i had sold him out
for 30 pieces of silver

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

tsunami ...

he has been gone a week now
i'm still not used to the emptiness in the house
or the space on the bed
it hits me at times, unexpected, like an earthquake
followed by wave after wave of grief and tears

he had been easily startled this past year
as his vision became clouded with cataracts
sometimes when he was drinking water from his bowl
a splash would surprise him and he would jump away

loud noises, thunder, fireworks
he would shake and lean into us
tonight while washing dishes,
i dropped a handful of silverware into the sink
i turned to tell him it was alright, it was just me making noise
instead, i had to bite my tongue to keep my sobs from escaping

i wasn't ready to lose Trooper
i wasn't ready to lose Oreo
i wasn't ready to let them go

few of us ever are i suppose
few of us ever are

Saturday, May 7, 2016

he was the best

my dog died three nights ago on 4 May 2016.  it was totally unexpected and it totally broke my heart.  it was the day before my birthday.

he had been acting ... different ... for several weeks.  but not the kind of different that you would take him to the vet for

he was eating, drinking, peeing, pooping, breathing, running, and walking without any indication that he was sick.  the morning he died, you would never have thought that it was going to be his last.

over the last several weeks, he wanted to be closer to us.  he wanted to snuggle, cuddle, and sleep between us on the bed so we made a sandwich, with him as the spread holding us together.

when he sat at the far end of the sofa with my husband, some nights he would get up and walk towards where i was sitting at the computer, so he would be standing behind my husband's back and he would just look at me.

he would look at me so intently, that i realize now he was just coming closer to look in my eyes and say ... "hey, i love you.  i really love you."

i knew something was going on with him, but you don't walk into a vet's office with your dog and say, "he's loving me too much, i think there is something wrong with him."  they would have laughed me off the planet.

i believe he knew his time was short, and i think he was preparing us by comforting us in advance, and giving us happy memories with him.

the day he died, we had gone to Ashland, Wisconsin to look at job opportunities, came home and went fishing for an hour.  in all, we were gone for about six hours.

when i took him out for a walk once we were home, he acted as if it hurt to walk so i took him off leash to let him go at his pace.  he peed and pooped (3x!), and seemed to feel better.  he wanted to walk across the street with me.  then he stopped, sat and laid down in the middle of the street.  i could barely get him to stand, and when i did, he was reluctant to walk.

we finally got him back to the house, and since i still thought that it was pain related to his legs and walking, i went to the store to get him some baby aspirin for the pain.  he was 12 years old, and while i kept him at a healthy and lean weight so he wouldn't have joint issues, i think there was still some arthritis because of his age.  in people years he would have been 78.

while i was gone, no more than 30 minutes, my husband said that he slumped down and five times he had stopped breathing and fallen over on his side.  he was able to call him back by rubbing his feet and talking to him.  trooper was gone within 15 minutes after i got home.  i think he was waiting for me.  considering how he died, and how quickly, i believe he had a stroke.
last Saturday night (30 April 2016) he curled up on the bed between us and put his head forehead into my chest.  for two hours until i fell asleep, i whispered into his ear and told him how much he was loved, how smart, brave, and handsome he was.  i told him that i didn't know what was going on with him, but that if it was something wrong, we would do whatever we could to get it fixed, and if it couldn't be fixed, we were going to focus on quality, not quantity.  i told him i never wanted to have to make the decision to put him down and would really prefer he went in his sleep, but that i would never let him suffer.  he knew he was loved.

so do we.