Year in Review — 2015

1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before? Became an advancements chair in Cub Scouts.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I did not make resolutions.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes, a friend from church gave birth to the most precious little boy. My sister had a baby girl. My good friend also had a baby girl. It’s been a baby bonanza over here 🙂
4. Did anyone close to you die? Aunt Marilyn.
5. What countries did you visit? None.
6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015? Serenity.
7. What date from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? December 6. When Ben finished his part of the Townes Super Nova award.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Going to AHG camp with Katie. I’m not good at camp settings and up until the time we left I was thinking of reasons not to go.
9. What was your biggest failure? Not managing to take Ben camping once before he belonged to the dance studio again.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I broke my toe when we came back from camp. It was a long recovery. Also the usual colds and asthma related issues.
11. What was the best thing you bought? A 64-gig iPad mini. Space is awesome.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? I’m proud of Katie and Ben. Katie switched AHG troops and has taken to the change like a duck to water. Nothing phases her. Ben didn’t make the easy choice for Boy Scout troops and it takes tons of character to buck a trend.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Most politicians (with a few notable exception).
14. Where did most of your money go? Judy’s Dance Academy and Amazon. I think they are dead even.
15. What did you get really excited about? I’m not sure I got really excited about anything this year. It’s been a weird year.
16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2015? “Day One” — Matthew West; “He Moves, You Move” — Audio Adrenaline; “Not Right Now” — Jason Gray; “The Unmaking” — Nichole Nordemann; “Safe” — Westlife; “You Got Me” — Gavin DeGraw; “Grace Wins” — Matthew West; “Exhale” — Plumb
17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder? I think I’m a bit happier. We have a lot of tension and struggles right now, but hopefully we can get more sanity and grace this year.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Just be with the kids instead of trying to orchestrate our time together.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Time on Facebook.
20. How did you spend Christmas? With family. It was a crazy, fun day.
21. Did you fall in love in 2015? With my phone.
22. Think of something important to mention. It is not impossible to love more than one dog.
23. How many one-night stands? None.
24. What was your favorite TV program? CSI: Cyber; Scorpion. Netflix: Gilmore Girls (how did I not watch this show years ago????)
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I don’t hate anyone. I dislike a number of people, but I don’t hate anyone.
26. What was the best book you read? Blueprint Homeschooling
27. What was your greatest musical discovery? I Am They.
28. What did you want and get? A new iPad with way more memory and Ticket to Ride.
29. What did you want and not get? I don’t think there’s anything I wanted that I didn’t get this year.
30. What was your favorite film of this year? Inside Out
31. What did you do on your birthday? I think I was at the dance studio with the kids.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? A family vision.
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015? Capri pants/jeans and t-shirts. I’m pretty steady that way.
34. What kept you sane? Music and Netflix.
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? George Clooney (though he is no longer “available” so I may need to rethink this now).
36. What political issue stirred you the most? Tamir Rice.
37. Who do you miss? Michelle O.
38. Who was the best new person you met? Karen P.
39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015. Never Underestimate the power of prayer.
40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

 

And all those things I didn’t say

Are wrecking balls inside my brain

I will scream them loud tonight

can you hear my voice:

This is my fight song

Take back my life song

Prove I’m all right song

My power’s turned on

Starting right now

I’ll be strong

I’ll play my fight song

And I don’t really care if nobody else believes

’cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.

“Fight Song” Rachel Platton

Advertisements

Year in Review — 2014

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before? Became a squad leader for American Heritage Girls.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I did not make resolutions.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes, a friend from church gave birth to the most precious little girl, and another friend gave birth YESTERDAY to another beautiful little girl.
4. Did anyone close to you die? Sam
5. What countries did you visit? None.
6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014? Peace. I would like very much for my life to be more peaceful
7. What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? January 10. The day we lost the bravest, most stubborn dog in the world.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Surviving the almost overwhelming waves of grief.
9. What was your biggest failure? Being afraid of making waves and speaking up when things aren’t going right.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Usual assortment of colds and lung issues.
11. What was the best thing you bought? A Midori Traveler’s Notebook. Thanks to it I have finally achieved planner peace.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? I’m not sure how to answer this. We were all grieving and we all handled it differently — some more productively than others.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Kids who have apparently been taught that different means bad. It’s like reliving my childhood.
14. Where did most of your money go? Judy’s Dance Academy (and I will gladly give her even more; the kids are thriving there).
15. What did you get really excited about? Zac Brown Concert.
16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2014? “Drink a Beer” — Luke Bryan; “Compass” — Lady Antebellum; “Overcomer” — Mandisa; “Thrive” — Casting Crowns; “Keep Me in Your Heart” — Warren Zevon; “Remember Me” — Mark Schultz; “Shine” — Newsboys; “Keeping Score” — Francesca Battistelli; “I’m Not Going to Miss You” — Glenn Campbell
17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder? Very sad. Trying to build a new normal without Sam has been one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced. And so very hard.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Expressing grief in front of the kids so they’d know how to do it.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Listen to other people tell me that she was just a dog. Caring about others’ opinions about anything.
20. How did you spend Christmas? With family. I went to Christmas day service again. So glad we’ve started doing that 🙂
21. Did you fall in love in 2014? With Spirit FM. It’s radio I can actually have on in my car and not worry about what the kids are hearing.
22. Think of something important to mention. Choosing a word for the year can be simultaneously the most exciting and most difficult things you can do to yourself.
23. How many one-night stands? None.
24. What was your favorite TV program? Criminal Minds (although I’m watching on Netflix and not current). Also loved Gracepoint.
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I don’t hate anyone. I dislike a number of people, but I don’t hate anyone.
26. What was the best book you read? The Goldfinch Donna Tartt
27. What was your greatest musical discovery? Francesca Battistelli
28. What did you want and get? A new phone with more memory than even I can use.
29. What did you want and not get? More time with Sam.
30. What was your favorite film of this year? Mom’s Night Out
31. What did you do on your birthday? I don’t remember.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? A family vision.
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014? Capri pants and t-shirts. I’m pretty steady that way.
34. What kept you sane? Friends who understand me.
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? George Clooney (though he is no longer “available” so I may need to rethink this now).
36. What political issue stirred you the most? Balancing gun rights with the right to not fear being out in public.
37. Who do you miss? Sam.
38. Who was the best new person you met? Rowena.
39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014. Unexpressed grief leads to anger which leads to much larger messes than just admitting you’re grieving and letting that happen.
40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

I am a mess; I am a wrecking ball

I must confess that I still don’t get it all

Lord I believe that all your words are true

It doesn’t matter where I’m going if I’m going with you.

I press on. I press on. I press on. When I still don’t get it. I press on.

“Press On” Building 429

Peyton Turns Nine

This could be a very short post or it could be long. One never knows when it comes to the world’s happiest dog. Peyton turned nine two days ago, not that anyone seeing her would ever know that unless they saw the grey around her muzzle. That’s the only clue you have that this dog is getting older.

 photo 10468145_10205520726083950_5024329844388026414_o_zps94d8be3b.jpg

Peyton has had a tough transition this year. Sam was the boss around here. Everyone, including Peyton, danced to Sam’s tune whatever it happened to be that particular day. My first true realization that Sam might be in trouble the night she died was the way Peyton was acting. She was whimpering and trying to shove in the gate that separated the two of them. The next morning, we let Peyton in to smell Sam and to see her so she would, hopefully, understand that Sam was gone. We think she did, but she’s been a very different dog since that day.

February brought more stress in that we had discovered lumps on Peyton a couple of months prior. Given our experience with Sam, we all agreed that removal and biopsy were the only option. The kids were told that Peyton was going in for a routine teeth cleaning (which was also happening), but I knew there was a chance we’d lose her on the table if he opened her up and found cancer everywhere. I was more or less prepared for that possibility and thank God that he had someone call me the second she was open and he DIDN’T see anything indicating she was essentially a walking dead dog.

So, after that drama, we settled into life with Peyton as an only dog. She doesn’t love this life, I don’t think. She doesn’t like being the one in charge. She doesn’t like having to remind people to feed her. She’s not a noisy dog, so there have been days she’s been forgotten for awhile until we start looking for her. Every time she can, she escapes into my room and lies down in the exact spot where Sam died. It is more than a little freaky. The first time she did it, she scared me to death (to be honest) because lying down, you really can’t tell the difference between the girls.

Peyton had her annual pain in the backside ear infection. I swear, when I schedule Ben for full day camp this summer, I’m just going to go ahead and schedule a vet appointment for Peyton. Every year since he’s started going to full day camp, I have had to take her to the vet.

Peyton went to her first animal blessing this year. I’m not sure she really understood it. She was so excited to be OUT with PEOPLE. She almost doesn’t know what to do with herself.

 photo 10628431_10153175738553906_8916194634489974266_n_zpsc063986f.jpg

She’s also enjoyed, sort of, the slightly more open house where we let people come here. The last two years of Sam’s life, no one came to the house unless it was absolutely necessary. Now, the kids have friends come over and we have a dog who doesn’t think a kid playing with one of her kids is necessarily attempting to kill her kid. In fact, Peyton likes to join in. What kid doesn’t enjoy being tackled by a 68 pound Lab?

So, the happiest dog in the world remains the happiest dog in the world, with occasional melancholy moments. She did allow me to get a birthday photograph and I will be very grateful for that.

“God Sighting”

Every year in VBS, the kids are told to pay attention to the things going on around them and to look for what the curriculum we use calls “God sightings” — moments where you can see God’s hand moving in your life or someone else’s life or in the world. I had an experience this week that could have been the work of no other but God.

It all started with a drawing that Ben made back in November to put on our Christmas tree this year. He drew a cross with heart imposed right at the cross’s center. He said it represented his heart for God and his understanding that Christmas is about the cross as well as a birth (um, have I mentioned that I am raising two very serious little Episcopalians — my daughter had a fit when we used something other than the BCP to pray over Sam after she died, and pitched a tantrum of rather epic proportions when we tried out a grace at dinner not from the BCP). Sure hope the Episcopal church hurries up and writes the blessing for the loss of pets.

Anyway, fast forward to the day after Christmas and Dayspring’s annual sale. I’m not sure what made me go take a look because I had just received a beautiful Kelly Rae Roberts’ cross that I love, but I went to look and found this. Of course, I ordered it immediately. When it came, I knew I was going to order another one for Ben the next time they had a sale because it isn’t super girly, but not overly masculine and it perfectly captures his art and his heart.

Last week, I finally found a sale on it that made me feel comfortable and I ordered it for him. At the same time, I ordered initial tags: one for him and one for his sister. They both like the fact that I wear their names on my necklace every day and asked if they could have an initial with their crosses when they got them (Katie got hers when my new one came in). All of this arrived on Wednesday.

When I opened the box with the cross in it, my breath caught in my throat and I immediately started to cry. See, I have been praying since Sam died that I would get a sign, something that I could understand, that she was happy; she was okay. I’ve worried that I should have done something more than I did the night she died, and I wanted some reassurance that she was okay. She’s come to some other folks in their dreams, but not to me. Anyway, in the box was the cross with an “s” initial tag on it.

I could not believe what I was seeing at first, but then I recognized it for what I believe it is, God providing me with a tangible sign that Sam is with Him and okay.

Of course I contacted Dayspring to see what they wanted me to do about it and they explained that it had been a return that was put back into stock by “mistake” and that I didn’t need to worry about returning it. At this point, I told them the story I’m telling you and they agreed, God put this in my path. The “s” is now on my chain with my cross, my kids’ tags, and the pearl I wear for P. I feel calmer and I feel more at peace than I have since she died.

Who knew that God would use a FedEx truck to deliver a sign?

One week ago . . .

You were here, and now you are gone. One week ago I thought I had plenty of time. You were suffering with your pressure sickness and it would be gone in a day or so and you’d be back to yourself. Note, I don’t say happy self or playful self. Those were never words that accurately described you, but loyal, true, steadfast, dedicated. Those were you.

At this time last week, I knew you were in trouble. I didn’t know quite how bad yet, but I knew there was a good chance that my phoenix wasn’t going to rise again. I hope that by the time I figured out how bad it was, your spirit had made the journey to the bridge and that you were playing with Carson and having the best time you ever had. I hope you have had plenty of steak.

I feel so bad for your dad. He made steak tonight and he thought it tasted wonderful and was expecting me to comment on it. It tasted like ashes to me. We had steak last Wednesday and I painstakingly cut you pieces from my steak so you could share. What did I care if you ate table scraps? For one thing, the only way you were getting them was if someone gave them to you. No way you were getting up on those back legs of yours to steal. For another, you needed the food. Your body was starting to waste away and I knew I wasn’t far from having to make a decision I didn’t want to make.

Dr. Chip sent me a card telling me how sorry he was that you’re gone, but glad that you took the decision out of our hands. I don’t know if you did that consciously or if this just happened to you like you slammed into a brick wall (and you’d actually know something about that feeling — what a klutz you could be at times). He’s right. I don’t think I would have had the heart to let you go as long as you were in the fight. And that’s how I saw most of your life.

And that is how I will honor your life. I won’t walk away from a fight, Sam. You never did. You never quit. You never gave up. I would be shaming your memory if I did any less. But I understand, too, that there was a difference in “fight” for you. You had to care about the outcome and it had to matter *to you* for you to fight. Being with me mattered and you fought. Peyton stealing your toy? Eh, there are others and her big bowling ball head couldn’t get to the good ones anyway.

We’re all starting to adjust to life without you, but it is so different, so weird, and so hard. We keep waiting for you to come to the gate, the door, the window, and you don’t. So far, no one here has dreamed about you. If you can, visit Ben. He misses you so much and he needs to know you’re okay where you are.

And this is mama being brave. Who knew I would have to put this word into action so quickly? I should have known that this word choosing me was going to bring a whole new level of stuff to the surface, but I am brave and it is a big brave and you will always have part of my heart.

A Brief Update

Sam had a massive stroke late Thursday night. She died at 4am on Friday morning. I am so grateful that she likely never knew what hit her and that, for her, it was incredibly quick even if it took her body awhile to catch up with her spirit.

I know that she is running free and eating what she wants and she has no pain. I know that she is finally free of fear and is truly happy. We loved her no matter what and that won’t change even with death.

Good rest and Godspeed, Sam.

If you want to make a donation in memory of my girl, her favorite organization: Labrador Life Line.

We Are in Pain

We are in pain today. Sam has had a rough 24 hours culminating in barfing up large amounts of mucus tinged with blood. We know this may be the end of a very long road for Sam. I claim I’m prepared; I claim I understand, but really, I don’t. I want her to keep going. I want her to be okay. I want her to go peacefully in her sleep rather than in a blur of confusion and pain. I am not okay with this. Not with one bit of it. And I have cried this morning. I fought tears when I talked to her vet, and I think he was fighting them too when he said, really, there’s nothing we can do for her at this point. We need to give her a bit, maybe through the weekend, and see how she is. I am afraid. I don’t want to lose her this way. Though why I think there’s a good way to lose her, I don’t know. I guess I just did.

P and I had plans this weekend, but now they are up in the air depending on Sam. As much as I love both of our families? I am not spending hours with any of them if this is truly Sam’s last weekend. She deserves our time and our attention. I know, we didn’t get to see anyone over Christmas; I understand that, but you know what? Sam is always there for us when we need her. If she needs us, then she gets us. End stop.

My heart is breaking because I can see she doesn’t know what to make of this newest development and she’s not sure what to do or how to cope with it. Peyton is running around looking panicked, which makes me think this may really be the real end (shamelessly stolen from Tim McGraw; I’ll give it back if she turns around. I promise).

The thing with Sam is in the last year, she’s had three very close calls. We’ve had two appointments scheduled to put her down and ended up canceling them because she rebounded and was back to herself. I don’t know how many more times she can go down and pull back up, but maybe she has one or two more in her. The thing is she has a pattern, and I’ve learned I have to let the whole thing play out to make a fair decision, otherwise I will spend the rest of what I imagine will be a long life second guessing whether it was really time or not. I know myself. No matter how many people tell me I will not regret putting her down too early, I don’t think that will happen for me. I think I will regret the missed time and the missed affection, such as it is from Sam.

We talk all the time about how much easier it is for pets because we can make this decision for them and we don’t have to let them suffer. Some even wish for this power for their loved ones. Being one with a dog who refuses to give a definitive sign of anything, I can say I am glad I don’t have that decision making power. The agony of trying to do the right thing for Sam would be magnified by 10,000 if I was trying to make the same decision for a loved one. At least, I imagine it would be.

So, for those of you who have made the decision for your beloved pet, how did you know it was time? What made you turn that corner and say, s/he isn’t happy anymore and it is time to let him/her go?