Tag Archives: Pets

New traditions are bittersweet.

23 Dec

Though I love that my parents moved up to NC in May of this year and are now only a 45-minute drive away from me, the “big move” involved selling the house I grew up in until I was 16 years old. Though I was ready to get out of my small hometown as soon as the opportunity presented itself, I loved growing up in the house that I did, and I am very fortunate to have been provided with a house that was full of love, comfort, books, and many memories.

Every single holiday memory I have took place in that house, and this year will be the first time I will be making new traditions in a different house. I’m happy with how things are now, of course. I love my parents’ current house more than my childhood home in SC, but my childhood home holds every single memory of my life up until the age of 16. Decorating the Christmas tree with my mom and getting nostalgic when pulling out the hand-made ornaments from when I was 5 and 6, making Christmas cookies in the kitchen, and putting up my own little fiber-optic Christmas tree (which came into the picture many years ago when I spent the holidays in Shriner’s Hospital for Kids and wanted something to make it feel more like Christmas in my hospital room). Even though the majority of our holiday “traditions,” or just how Christmas Day would pan out, are easy to duplicate in a different house, I think the kicker is also the realization that we will be opening presents and stockings in a different house from now on. The Christmas tree is up against a wall of windows rather than being set in a corner with two couches nestled around it. Since we have a wood stove, there is no fireplace to hang our stockings, and for the very first time, we will only have 5 stockings as opposed to 6 (since we lost Roxy, one of our springer spaniels, this year). Despite that sadness, Hoss, Roxy’s son, will be getting plenty of treats and as much love and attention as we can possibly show him. Needless to say, he’ll definitely be a happy camper on Christmas morning.

I don’t doubt that this Christmas will be just as special as previous holidays. However, I know that for me, it’ll be an emotional adjustment. I know that this year when I wake up on Christmas morning, I’ll be picturing the tree nestled in a corner…stockings hung up on the fireplace…and Hoss and Roxy sitting around my parents, my brother and I as we open stockings and gifts in our pajamas. And maybe, for just a few seconds, I’ll feel a bit sad about not getting to experience another Christmas in my childhood home, but then I will be sure to understand how fortunate I am to even have the opportunity to celebrate the holidays with my family around me.

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Autumn’s unexpected change.

9 Sep

 

“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person died for no reason.”-Earnest Hemingway

Even though autumn is the season of “change,” I don’t like the kind of unexpected change that I received today. I lost a “family member” and friend last night: my dog, Roxy. She was diagnosed with a tumor in her bladder a few months ago. No amount of words can express the pain I’m feeling. However, I am thankful that I have plenty of pictures that I took of Roxy to remind me of the love and happiness that she brought to my family.

 

 

An Emotional Whirlwind.

30 Jul

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” -Henri J.M. Nouwen

I feel like I’ve been through an emotional whirlwind recently. I had a tough travel day on Thursday (even though I did finally make it home), I came home to find out that one of my dog’s has a tumor, Delta lost my luggage and I didn’t receive it until today, and a limb went through the windshield of my car and it has to be replaced (but thankfully I wasn’t in my car when the limb went through my windshield). For the past few days, it’s felt like nothing has gone my way. It’s almost as if anything that could possibly knock me over has slammed into me with full force.

However, the one thing that I am holding on to is the fact that I get to see my best friend Skidmore on Friday. I’m holding on to that one simple thing with every fiber of my being because if I know that if I give myself even a small chance to stop and think, I’ll just fall apart. Though I know that once I see Skidmore I’ll most likely finally break down, I’m trying to hold it together to some extent until then. Not because I don’t want to appear weak. Far from that, actually. I just know that if I give in to what I’m feeling right now, I’ll just start crying and I won’t be able to stop.

Maybe it’s stress. Maybe it’s the fact that I haven’t seen my friends in what seems like forever. Either way, this feels like the eerie calm before the storm. But waiting to break down until I get to Skidmore’s is exactly what I need. Though the waiting wouldn’t really change much, it would change everything all at the same time. Skidmore is the easiest person in the world for me to talk to, and I know that if I was talking to her through body-heaving sobs, she wouldn’t even say anything. She’d just hug me and wait until I was able to get out what I was feeling. I need that kind of patience, that kind of willingness to listen. For so long, Skidmore has been the one person that I’ve turned to for everything, and even though it’s never a good time to feel like your world has been flipped upside down, I feel like it couldn’t have come at a better time since I’m going up to see Skidmore this weekend anyway for her 21st birthday.

Either way, all of this is hard to grasp right now….especially the weight hanging on the fact that my dog, Roxy, has a tumor. My family put our oldest dog, Max, to sleep at the beginning of this summer, and the fact that Roxy may not be far behind is the most heartbreaking thing I can even imagine right now. I want to cry….and scream…and run…and throw things….and hold on to Roxy for as long as I possibly can. None of this is fair. I understand that losing a pet never is. However, it’s just as if all of this stress has hit me like a bulldozer, and I don’t even know what to feel. So I’m just hanging on for a few more days…hanging on until I can fall apart in the company of my best friend.

A Dog’s Life: All You Need Is Love.

29 Apr

I found out this afternoon that my first dog (who is very, very old now), Max, will need to be put to sleep tomorrow. Max has been living with my grandparents for a number of years, who live right down the street from us, because their dog, Joe, who was put to sleep last summer, was Max’s best friend. During the last few years that Max was living with us, he frequently got out of our yard and went up to my grandparents’ house to be with Joe. It reached a point where we realized that Max would be happier with Joe. However, we always showed him love on the days when he’d come down to visit us.

Today I went down to my grandparents’ house to see Max one last time. My dad and I found him on the screen porch laying down in his cage. Due to Max’s age, he hasn’t been able to see or hear hardly at all for quite some time. Therefore, when Max had his back to us when my dad and I came into the screen porch, my dad had to reach in and turn Max around so that he was facing us. Even though I know that Max probably didn’t recognize us, my heart broke when I saw him. He didn’t seem to be in pain. He just seemed tired. I could see it in his eyes. Though he didn’t have the energy to move towards me, that didn’t stop me from holding him and crying harder than I ever have. Part of my heart broke this afternoon. For the loss of Max and for the amount of love that I have for him. Since he was my very first dog, he was my first indication of the amount of love that one can have for an animal.

Max loved playing fetch. You could throw a tennis ball for him over and over again, and he’d never get tired. Often times, I was the one who had to eventually stop playing, even though Max would continue to drop the ball at my feet and look up at me with excitement and anticipation, wondering where I would throw the ball next. My dad brought a tennis ball with him when we went to see Max one last time today, and the fact that Max didn’t even have the energy to hold the ball in his mouth was heartbreaking. Max also loved water. Any time we would take him for a walk out on my grandparents’ farm, he would always run straight into the pond, no matter the outside temperature. He loved swimming, and when you added playing fetch while he was swimming in the pond, you could see that he was just happy as a clam.

Though I know that after tomorrow Max will finally be at peace and will finally be able to be near Joe again (since Max will be buried next to Joe), it’s no easier for those of us who have to go on living without him. Though some people would make the comment that Max is just a dog, anyone who has ever had a dog knows that they aren’t just a pet. They are a part of your family. Heck, in our family, our dogs (Max, Roxy, and Hoss), who are all springer spaniels, have had their own Christmas stockings for as long as they have been in our family. They are one of us, and that’s all there is to it. Though I am sad to lose Max, I am happy to still have Roxy and Hoss to show my love to. When I came back from saying goodbye to Max today, I curled up on the couch and held on to Roxy as I cried. I figured she knew something was wrong since she looked up at me and licked my face. Even though that made me cry harder, I don’t know what I would have done if I would have lost Max and then had to come home to a house without dogs. It would make things so much harder.

The wonderful thing about dogs though is the fact that they have only love to give. Growing up, Max didn’t care that I had CP or that I was different. In his eyes, as long as I showed him love, he loved me right back. Sometimes I wonder how the world would be different if we as humans could have that sort of mentality. Granted, each one of us is too judgemental for that. However, in a dog’s mind, “all you need is love.”