• Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 148 other followers

  • “Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers” — Isaac Asimov

  • Recent Posts

  • Pages

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Blog Stats

    • 169,934 hits

Heartstring Triggers

Disclaimer: This article isn’t all sad, so don’t skip it because there’s some cute stuff midway through.

I read an article recently, and a line from it stuck with me:

Interestingly, Hawaiian researchers have even found that the pain after the death of a pet is usually much longer lasting than the pain we feel with the loss of a loved one.

https://www.healthyfoodhouse.com/losing-a-pet-hurts-more-than-people-think/

Y’all, I know that many of us can attest to this.

Last night, I dreamed of two of my lost fur babies – Aubie and Molly.

As I spent time petting both of them, I remember thinking, “This has to be a dream, but it’s so realistic.”

The dream seemed to go on for a long time, and I kept telling myself that I must be dreaming even though it very much felt like real life.

I also remember thinking that Pele must not have been ready to make the leap yet.

I know where this idea came from – the book Good Dog, by Dan Gemeinhart.

I had read it last summer, around the one year anniversary of Molly’s passing.

I had sobbed my way through the book, which chronicled the story of Brodie, a beloved dog who had passed away but was stuck in an in-between world.

The book had gone a long way toward healing my still-raw and very broken heart.

Waking up confirmed that yes, I had been dreaming.

Sigh.

Then, as I was tootling around the house, I went to put up something that had fallen in the laundry room, and I saw this . . .

What had fallen was one of the dog’s halters we bought to make walks a little easier. As I reached up to put it away, I saw the second one.

Sigh.

Then, I picked up an empty bag from Walmart. It had been sitting on one of those shelves you see above, and here’s what was inside . . .

I’m thinking that the collection of baggies was from the week the Mr. and I spent in California last summer. I tend to be anal about organizing things for my dog sitters.

I am not going to lie, y’all. This grieving thing isn’t easy, even if it’s for an “animal.”

Of course we all know that I consider my fur babies like my human ones.

I am so thankful for the memories we have of the ones we’ve lost. I can’t tell you how many times the Mr. and I sit outside on our porch and reminisce about them . . . how smart Aubie was, how brazen Molly was, how deceptively intelligent Pele was.

The other night, the Mr. and I recounted the season when Molly climbed up and over our fence. I’ve shared the videos here before, but just in case you missed them, here they are.

Here’s the view from the other side . . .

Oh goodness, but look at this gem I just found on YouTube . . .

And this one, which is one of my favorites . . .

Oh wait, look at this! Excuse my horrible back yard, which was a casualty of a four-dog household.

Look how sweet the babies were to each other.

Here’s when Molly, who loved her ball, had to face a choice . . .

And then there were the post-bath play sessions . . .

The next video was from 2015. It’s hard to believe; it seems like yesterday.

And then the last video of the babies that I uploaded to YouTube.

Sorry for the video dump. This post sort of evolved into a digital walk down memory lane – a good thing when you’re sad because random things triggered your heartstrings.

Thank you for continuing to pray for us as we continue adapting to the hole in our home and our hearts.

And Then There Was One

Once upon a time, there were four fur babies.

They made AuburnChick and her Mr. a little crazy but a lot happy.

Fast forward twelve and a half years, and the four have become one.

This has made AuburnChick and her Mr. very sad people.

The day they lost Pele, they left for a little getaway that had been six months in the planning.

They set aside their grief the best they could and made memories with their loved ones.

Oh, y’all, how I wish this was a story from a book. The reality, however, is very sorrowful and oh too real.

This story is one that is currently being written – slowly and painfully.

The Mr. and I returned from our trip Saturday evening. I started crying as we made the last few turns; the knowledge of what was ahead weighed heavily on my heart.

We knew that coming home would be tough.

Instead of two fur babies greeting us at the door, there was only one.

Granted, he was a cutie and beside himself with joy and relief.

While we had been able to delay our grief, he had been at home with a stranger (a sweet young lady but still new to him) and confused about where his big brother was. Our sitter texted me a picture of him and told me that he’d been keeping an eye on the front door.

Poor guy.

His audible greeting – something rare for him – let us know just how happy he was to see us.

I think we spent that first evening in a daze. The house was too quiet.

We were all in mourning; the weight of it so very, very heavy.

Gambit was unsure of the new dynamics.

Normally, his big brother would be vying for space on the bed. Instead, it was just Gambit. We both felt like a piece of ourselves was missing.

We slept twelve hours, and I’ll just go ahead and say that I felt no guilt about missing church. My body and mind desperately needed the rest. Besides that, I would have been a blubbering mess.

I can’t remember much of what we did on Sunday. I believe we went to Sam’s Club. I ran into a former student I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. I’m sure I seemed aloof, but the truth was that I was extremely emotional and barely able to focus. The priority was getting a few needed items and returning home to Gambit.

I don’t remember anything else about the day.

The week, in fact, ran pretty much the same way.

It might seem silly to people who aren’t animal lovers, but losing a beloved pet is hard on the heart.

Pele’s absence has left a huge void in our lives.

Everything in the house reminds me of him.

One of the first things I did was move one of his dog beds to the den. We had five of them in the house. Yes, for two dogs. I threw away one dog bed because Pele had either gotten sick on it or had a bit of an accident. That still left four.

Then, there was the crate, which was beside the TV. Pele loved his crate. It was his safe place – his spot when he wanted alone time away from Gambit, who was known to sneak snuggle.

I folded it up and put it away, not sure if we will need it in the future. I couldn’t deal with the dog bed. It had so much of Pele’s hair and smelled like him. Smell is such a powerful sense and brings back so many memories.

For two years, we’d had double of everything: water bowls, dog food dishes, and leashes. When I took Gambit to get his nails clipped this week, I teared up as I reached for his leash. I still can’t bring myself to do anything with the extra one. Maybe one day, but not yet.

Gambit was so excited to go for a car ride, and my heart broke a little. Pele loved to ride too. I was used to seeing two puppy faces in the rear view mirror. I only saw one that day.

I wound up taking Gambit to PetSmart for his nails even though the vet’s office was a little closer. I just can’t go there yet; the pain is so raw.

The Mr. and I still find ourselves talking about the “dogs” this and the “dogs” that. I’m not sure how we will move from using plural nouns to a singular one when referring to the one who’s left.

I’ve spent the week cleaning; it’s what I do when I’m in the middle of flux. As I walked from one room to another, I saw this . . .

The Roomba had already run more than once, so finding a tuft of Pele’s tail hair poured salt in the wound. I broke down and told the Mr. that the day my vacuum stops picking up Pele’s hair is the day I’m going to cry bucketloads. I’m afraid of losing all evidence that Pele was a member of our family for so long. I remember feeling this way with Molly too. The Mr. reminded me that we have a lot of pictures to remember him by.

And so I’m plodding through this muck that is life at the moment.

It’s slow going, and if I’m completely honest, I’m not too happy at the moment.

Watching my sweet Gambit struggle is hard. He’s too little for the two beds we have left.

I’m just glad that we have a buffer between losing Pele and school starting back up to get our bearings again.

I’ve been fond of saying that I’m finding joy in the journey, whatever that may be.

Well, I’m not joyful in the moment. To say otherwise would be a lie.

I do know, though, that God’s got me – that He’s ministering to me through family and friends – that He will continue to comfort me when I suddenly feel weepy.

No, I will not allow myself to wallow too long in the sad, but for now, I will embrace it for just a little while until the wound of my broken heart has healed a bit.

Just as Gambit, the last one left, likes to lift his nose in the wind, so I’ll trust that God will lift my spirits in His perfect time.

The Third Musketeer

Once upon a time (February 2007), there was a girl who wanted to get a second dog.

Knowing her father was anti-multiple-fur-babies, she approached Mama about how to convince Daddy that she should get one. Mama, being the tech wizard, suggested a PowerPoint.

Said girl made the PowerPoint, and Daddy’s heart was swayed. The family went to the local animal shelter and picked out the most adorable baby there was.

Leaving the animal shelter – in Rooster’s lap

Being the soccer extraordinaire that she was, Chicky named her puppy Pele. He came home to meet what he would believe was his mama and began his adventurous life.

First trip to PetSmart to get a collar and name tag.

Pele immediately latched on to Aubie. We had wondered how she would do with a baby fur pup since she’d been an only child up to this point.

They bonded immediately. She was patient with him as he followed her everywhere and slept wherever she slept.

It took a little while for Pele’s personality to come out. He had been returned to the animal shelter twice before we’d taken him home, so he was leery. We gave him lots of love, though, to build his trust.

And then the cuteness came out . . . along with his mischievous side.

Boy did he love that gorilla. I repeatedly sewed up holes that Pele lovingly inflicted upon it.

Six months later, the human mama (Your’s Truly) decided to add to the brood, and Molly joined the crew.

Pele wasn’t too sure about Molly the night she arrived. She flew into the house and went straight for him.

There were now the Three Musketeers, and boy were they a tight bunch.

Pele had softened the hearts of his human parents – so much so that dogs were now allowed on the couch and other places formerly forbidden.

Molly’s addition to the family ruined us completely; mischief was constantly afoot.

Much love and laughter was shared over the years. The Three Musketeers morphed into something akin to human progeny.

Aubie was the eldest and in charge of everyone. Pele was the easy-going middle child who preferred to slide through life without too much extra attention. He knew when to stand back when the others (Molly – ahem) were getting in trouble for what were probably his misdeeds.

Molly was the instigator – the one who came up with the insidious plans. Pele was her muscle. Aubie told on both of them.

Time marched on, and just like humans, the Three Musketeers got older.

At the tender age of 12 and a half, and after a suspected case of bone cancer, we bid farewell to Aubie.

Pele was absolutely heartbroken and mourned her loss for a long time. He’d refused to lay on her bed for weeks; her smell so confusing since she wasn’t there physically.

Four years later, Molly breathed her last after a fairly sudden downturn in her health. We never quite knew what befell her. I suspect she suffered a stroke that ebbed the life from her.

By then, Gambit had been a member of the family for five years. He and Pele tender footed around the house for days sensing my distress and utter devastation.

Fur babies are sensitive things, you know.

And life continued.

We had two blissful years. With the loss of two fur babies behind us, we took special care with the ones who remained and spent extra time doting on them.

We spoiled them rotten.

Life hadn’t been easy – especially after Hurricane Michael – but we pushed through, thankful for the distractions that our fur boys provided.

And then last week happened.

One week ago today, to be exact.

Pele’s health had been declining ever since Hurricane Michael last October. He and Gambit had evacuated with me; the long, middle-of-the-night ride to Auburn had done a number to Pele’s body. He was never quite the same, and it broke my heart to watch his strong, sleek body slowly whittle down. During the past three months, he began eating sporadically, even after I started preparing homemade, pet-friendly dishes.

When I took him to the vet in June, she assured me that this was normal for older dogs during summer months, but I knew something was amiss. My boy NEVER missed meals. He LIVED for food. The muscles in his back legs degenerated quickly over the past month, and his eating continued to be hit and miss.

And then the 18th . . . when Pele didn’t want to get up and potty. When I finally got him to go, things didn’t look right, and he returned to his bed.

I knew something was gravely wrong, and I told the Mr., with tears in my eyes, that it was time.

We spent the next hour and a half loving on our sweet boy, waiting for the vet’s office to open. We had a trip planned, and although I had a trusted dog sitter coming to the house, we were afraid that Pele wouldn’t make it until we returned. We didn’t want him to suffer, which was clearly already happening. Also, the thought of us not being here for him in his last moments would have wrecked us.

We took pictures with him. He was so tired that he didn’t really want to look at the camera.

The tears were flowing, let me tell you.

He had been a loyal companion for too long. We wanted to be there for him when it mattered most.

Rooster and his girl, who were visiting, said their goodbyes, and we headed out.

Dear, sweet Pele. He was so brave. He had always been a nervous wreck in the vet’s office, but he walked into the room and laid right down on the blanket they’d set out for him.

The vet examined him and told us that he was going into liver failure; his eyes were yellow – a clear sign of it. We’d also found a hard knot under his chin a couple of months back, and the vet had suspected cancer – the kind that she couldn’t remove. She hypothesized that it might have spread. She noted that his legs had lost even more muscle as well.

She told us we were doing the right thing.

Oh y’all, I don’t think a person who loves a fur baby as much as we loved Pele can ever prepare for this day.

During the next hour or so, we loved on that boy so much. We talked to him as the sedatives worked their way through his body.

We told him what a good boy he was, and that we loved him so much.

There was a moment, at the very end, when I saw a tear fall from his eye. Call it what you want, but it was a tear, and it still breaks my heart when I remember it. I don’t believe that he wanted to leave us, but he was tired. So tired.

And so we kissed on him and hugged him tight, and we cried and cried. I probably shed a thousand tears to his one.

As the Mr. and I knelt over his body, I put my hands on my sweet boy, bowed my head, and prayed for all of us. I thanked the Lord for blessing us with this precious baby, and I asked for comfort as we began the grieving process. I know that God surrounded us with angels during those moments of deep anguish.

Leaving him when it was over was the absolute hardest things I’ve done as a dog mom, and I sobbed the entire way home.

Loving is the easy part; letting go is the hardest.

We had raised him for twelve and a half years.

Think about that for a minute. That’s almost half as long as the Mr. and I have been married; half of Rooster’s life.

As a Christian, I can’t know for sure if God has a place in heaven for our fur babies. I pray that He does.

I picture the OG (original gang) – my Three Musketeers – back together again, happily reunited, in perfect health, and full of sweet joy.

My sweet, gentle giant lived a full life. When I remember him, I will always see his big smile.

To my Pele,

You were the absolute BEST dog there was. You were laid back from the start – the most calm of all of our babies. I will miss so many things about you:

  • Your dinner time reminders that usually began around 3:30.
  • Your grunt as you settled yourself onto your bed.
  • How you loved to roll around on your back in the yard and on your bed after an especially satisfying meal and the funny noises you made while you were rolling.
  • The sound of you rolling onto your back as you butted yourself up against the wall – your nails scraping along the way.
  • Your floppy ears – the softest and, probably, one of my favorite parts of you.
  • Your beautiful, exotic eyes that looked like you were wearing permanent eye liner.
  • Your woof-howl when someone dared to walk past the house – on YOUR sidewalk. Awoooooo, wooof, wooof
  • Your scratch at the door when you wanted to be let out and back in again.
  • Your stare at Daddy while he ate dinner – your wish for a bite too.
  • Your big snout at the edge of my table, looking for something to eat
  • The way you eased off of the dog bed after Gambit tried to sneakily snuggle with you.
  • Your nightly reminders that it was bedtime and the look you gave me asking when was I coming.
  • Your big body that was perfect for snuggling against. You were my real life teddy bear; you never minded when I hugged you close.
  • Your presence, which filled the house and has left a void since you departed.
  • Everything. Just everything.

Pele, we have no regrets. We loved you BIG. I know that you knew you were loved and appreciated, and I trust that you were comforted by that even to the very end.

I am thankful for every single second God allowed us to have with you. We knew, going into this, that our time would be limited, given that you were a large dog. God blessed us beyond compare.

We will NEVER forget you.

Weekend Miscellany

Miscellany – yes, that’s a word.  I looked it up just to be sure.

Let’s talk about random things from the weekend.

Saturday

I got in my walk and did #somuchgood

Here’s the photo without the Charity Miles info . . . because Gambit is so cute.

I received a package in the mail . . .

Megan showed hers off during our meeting last Thursday, and I think two or three of us ordered one on the spot.  I’ll let you know how it works!  I’m hopeful because being able to stand in proximity to some of my more spirited students, as opposed to standing in front of the board, will take my classroom management skills up a few notches!

I spent most of the day reading and finished this book . . .

It was excellent!  I gave it four stars on Goodreads.  The author has another book coming out in January.  I’ll probably pre-order it.

Sunday

I slept in, opting to skip church because of the loud music and my head. The dogs were not amused because they were waiting for breakfast.

After they ate, I went for a walk.  Then, I did some laminating.

For some reason, I was really tired, so I slept for an hour.  Unfortunately, I woke up to find a migraine brewing.

I also had a craving for a cherry slushy, so I loaded up the boys and took them along for the ride.

Aren’t their faces priceless?

Despite taking a pain pill, which I had been able to avoid the past few days, the headache lingered.

I decided to do some baking.  I used the same recipe as last week, but this time, I topped them with chocolate frosting, a suggestion from the recipe writer (she kindly responded to the question I asked on her Instagram post).

The frosting is amazing!  It tastes like the kind I’ve always bought at the store.

The Mr. had been at work all day, not his usual schedule but that’s how it goes.  When he got home, he saw that I wasn’t feeling well and kindly ate leftovers.  Bless him.

Meanwhile, I wound up a skein of yarn for a new project.

Weekends sure do fly by, even when you’re not doing a whole lot.

Weekending With Auburnchick

Y’all, this head thing is putting a crimp in my style as far as weekend fun goes.

Because I’m still having headaches, I’m being forced to lay low, which means NO beach, NO pool, and NOTHING that’s too loud.  When you live fifteen minutes from the beach, it’s a bitter pill to swallow.

True to form, I’m making the most of my downtime.

Friday, I found myself without a headache; however, the trade off was that I’d gotten NO sleep the night before.

Nada.

None.

Bet that you can’t tell from the selfie, below.  I’m a girl who pulls up her big girl pants and does life anyway.

Thursday night, I’d taken one of my new pain pills – the one with codeine (to help me sleep) – but it also had caffeine in it (to ward off the headache).  Guess which ingredient my body took to like a flea on a dog?

Yep.

I was super relaxed, though, so at least I wasn’t exactly suffering all night.

It was strange, though, because I wasn’t really tired when I got up.  I took the dogs for a ride to get them out since I can’t walk them right now.

At first, they were suspicious, but when I didn’t make the usual turn for Petsmart, they relaxed.

Gambit’s face though 😀

I was down for the count by 2pm, though, and slept a hefty two and a half hours – in bed.  The dogs were more than happy to oblige me.

I felt a little better when I got up, so I got busy in the kitchen, preparing a few things I’d been wanting to try.

First up was 5-Ingredient Vegan Peanut Butter Pudding, a recipe by Minimalist Baker.

I had prepared the pudding the day before and had it chilling in the refrigerator for twenty four hours, as directed.  It was time to put the finishing touches on it.

First of all, I learned that waxed paper is the best way to go as opposed to using saran wrap when trying to prevent a film from forming on the top of puddings and custards.  I’ll remember that for next time.

I’d gone back and forth about the topping.  Although chocolate ganache strongly appealed to me, I wanted to try something new, so I pulled out the can of coconut cream I’d put in the refrigerator a few days before and got to work on a whipped topping (the recipe is linked in with the recipe above).

I’d purchased several cans of this at Trader Joe’s over Christmas break because we don’t have this store, and I had read that to successfully make whipped cream, you have to buy cans that don’t have guar gum, which is used as a stabilizer and prevents cream from being whipped up.

I’ve tried, in the past, to make this and never gotten it right.  I guess Friday was the day!

It was light and tasty.  Yum!

I added it to my pudding.

I showed restraint by putting it in the fridge because y’all, I hadn’t eaten dinner yet!

The next dish I prepared was really a “recipe.”  I’ll admit that I cheated a little.

I wanted to warm up the jackfruit I’d purchased earlier in the week.

I’ve been very intrigued by this newly-popular food item, and although I’ve found it sold in cans online, I haven’t been able to locate it in my local stores.

Prep was fairly easy, except for the pulling-apart thing (akin to pulling apart pork when making barbecue).

Although it’s a fruit, the texture is similar to pork.  I think it would be a great food for people who are making the transition to becoming vegetarians.

I added 1/8 of a cup to each slice of pizza I had leftover from the day before.

It was delicious!  I wound up ordering a pack of six cans of jackfruit (from Amazon) so I can make stuff like this from scratch and eliminate some of the unhealthy ingredients that’s in prepackaged food.  Oh yeah, and don’t be judging me, because I know the pizza wasn’t healthy either.  It’s been a tough couple of weeks for me, so cut me some slack.  🙂

Because of my nap, I wasn’t tired that night.  Gambit was not impressed.

I slept in rather late on Saturday and quickly got dressed.  Chicky was on her way for a very brief stop enroute to see her guy.  She needed to drop a few things off.

I got to see her fur baby, Cali, who is always excited to visit us.  She’s never forgotten us after the summer that she and Chicky spent here when Chicky was still in college.

We put her in the backyard because we didn’t want to risk a less-than-friendly reception by our dogs.

Ahem.

We sent Chicky on her way with my rice cooker, a couple of homemade energy bars, and a bowl of peanut butter pudding (just so you know that I’m not a complete pig).

After she left, I made lunch for the Mr. – chicken fingers – his favorite.

Thank goodness for being a blogger who takes a lot of pictures because my memory is giving me tiny fits right now.  I blocked a project I’d finished in the wee hours of the morning.  I’ll have photos of that soon.

I didn’t go to bed too late, if you consider midnight acceptable.  It is still summer, after all.

I skipped church on Sunday because I was worried that the loud music would make my headache worse.  Although the headaches are less intense, they are constantly present, brewing beneath the surface.  I did get up, showered, dressed in street clothes, and adorned with makeup.

Go me.

Good thing too, because the Mr. called and asked if I wanted to go to Newk’s with some of our friends from church.  He picked me up, and we had a lovely time with two other couples.

Then, it was home again for the day where I rested, knit a LOT on a new project, listened to RHAP’s Big Brother updates (don’t be judging), and binged on Bosch, my latest Amazon Prime go-to show.

The Mr. and I watched the latest episode of Sharp Objects.  What a dark show; it’s so depressing!

While we watched, the Mr. tried, unsuccessfully, to ignore Pele as he ate a leftover hamburger patty.

Although I’m spending a lot of time at home these days, it’s been good for me and the dogs.

They love that they’re getting extra treats and lots of time in the yard.

We are getting so much quality time together, which is difficult during the school year.

Did you do anything exciting?  Can I live vicariously through you for a little while?  🙂

Lazy Day

Because I’d been up late Wednesday night, I slept in a bit on Thursday.

My heart was still hurting from the book I’d finished.

I took my time getting out of bed and hung out with the dogs all morning.  It was a beautiful day, and I should have gone to the pool, but mentally, I wasn’t into it.  I needed a bit of solitude.

I took a nap in my chair even though I’d slept late.  I was so tired.

Being sad will do that for you.

When I woke up, it was early afternoon.  The dogs were eager to get some fresh air.

I had been procrastinating my workout but was not about to give in and not do it, so I got dressed.

Just as I was about to get started, my phone rang.  A guy I’d called yesterday was on his way to take a look at my house.  We want to fix our gutters and get a door for our screened in porch.

The workout did not want to happen, y’all.

I persevered, though, and got it in after he left.

Day 72 – Done!

Then, I began preparing dinner for the hubby.  This is one of his new favorite dishes.

It’s a bit of a pain to put together, which is why I don’t make it that often.

The rest of my evening was chill as I blogged and watched television.

Sometimes, you just need a lazy day.

In my case, it’s been a summer of lazy days, but who’s judging (it better not be you!). 🙂

One Year Later

July 5, 2017 was a day I’d rather forget.

It was the day when I lost my beloved fur baby, Molly.

One year later, the pain is almost as unbearable as it was that tragic day.

One year later, I’m still wiping tears from my face as my thoughts frequently turn to her.

Some people might think it’s dumb to grieve so deeply over a dog, but she was so much more than that to me.

She was a member of my family – my little shadow – the neck that I hugged after a bad day.

There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think about her . . . when I don’t miss her, even with all of the quirks that she had.

Every time I lift my wrist to check the time, I see one of my favorite pictures of the two of us, taken in healthier and happier times.

Last night, as I began to hear firecrackers popping in the sky, I cried.  I couldn’t help but remember the way that Molly, so scared of loud noises, slept through them last year, another sign that her life was ebbing away.

One year later, my heart is still shattered over the loss of my best furry friend.

Catching Up 3.0

I think it’s fair to say that I’ve got some catching up to do, eh?  These past two weeks . . . if I could erase them, I would, but since I can’t, I guess I’ll go forth.

Despite my world being turned upside down, life has had to continue, albeit at a different pace.  Grief has a way of slowing a person down, to the point where some days, you’re doing good to put one foot in front of the other.  Thank heavens for friends who continue to check in with me to see how I’m doing.  I received a card and Amazon gift card from my precious friend, Kris.

She and I have done numerous online Bible studies together.  She has a heart of gold. ❤

So, back to the blogging . . .

To help me gauge where I last left off as far as blogging goes, I’m digging into my Flickr account.

Ugh.  Loads and loads of pictures, because that is something I’ve managed to keep up with . . . photographing and uploading tons of pictures so I can remember every moment of every day.

I can be extra that way.

I have been doing a crap-ton of reading . . .

Poolside and in the pool as well . . .

I must have read the second book right after.  Alas, but I didn’t take a picture.

I started on the Throne of Glass series (shout-out to Megan, who’s dying for me to get to the last book so we can discuss the characters).  I will not get to Once and for All until I finish this series.

Y’all, Throne of Glass is every bit as good as Megan promised.  I flew through the first book.

While I waited for the rest of the books in the series to arrive from Amazon, I started on the third book of the Storm Siren series . . .

I loved this series!  I have discovered that I like books that delve into magic powers.  Perhaps one day, I’ll finish the Game of Thrones series.  I’m in the middle of the second book and refuse to watch the series until I either finish or ever (I’ve heard it’s a bit graphic).

Meanwhile, my new books arrived . . .

All Photos-547

I do believe I hear angels sing when the Man in the Brown Truck delivers Amazon packages.

In the middle of reading all of the aforementioned books, I also participated in a Proverbs 31 online Bible study . . .

This book needs to be read by every single person.  We all tell ourselves lies that, gasp, we actually believe.  Jennifer’s wise words, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and her gentle leading to scripture passages, help readers learn strategies to combat the negative crap that goes into our thought closets.  I’m going to be keeping this book close at hand to refer to.

I haven’t just been reading; I’ve also been working out.  The only day I missed was the one in which Molly passed away.  I couldn’t even pick up my arms that day.

I did my workout the next day . . . and cried throughout the entire program.

I have been keeping at it, though, and I’m starting to see results.

I’m currently doing Body Beast, another Beach Body program.  It’s a weight training video series, my favorite!

I really, really like it.  It’s definitely challenging, but the payoff has been worth it.

There are even weights incorporated into the cardio and ab workouts!!!!

Yesterday, when I was brushing my teeth, I randomly looked up and saw a little bit of arm muscle action going on.  The vain part of me was a teensy bit happy.

Please ignore the pink thing around my waist. It’s my Flip Belt, which I wear when I’m walking. It holds my phone and kleenex. I love it, but it’s not very fashionable.

Pele and Gambit have been sticking close to me since Molly passed away.  They don’t stray far even during my workouts.

I’m trying to walk at least three days a week.  I spread my walks out around leg day because my ankle still cannot handle too much at one time.

My pace isn’t great, but whatever.  My only competition is my brain and my bum ankle, both of which come out battered some days . . .

This was my ankle after a day of only doing a shoulder workout . . . no walk that day.

I keep trying to put into practice the lessons I learned during my Bible study . . . I am not defined by my circumstances.

The last person to finish a race is still a finisher, same as the person who came in first.

The fact that I’m getting out in the heat and humidity means I’m trying . . .

I read the following quote in my Bible study book:

I’m going to print this, laminate it, and display it prominently in my classroom as a reminder to my students and to myself.

One small snafu in my workout plans happened when the new ear buds the Mr. gave me for Christmas stopped working the DAY we left for his surgery.  I was not very happy; monkey wrenches and I do not get along.

I called the company because they were still under warranty, and the representative I talked to was extremely helpful as he explained the return policy.  After emailing him a copy of my receipt, he confirmed that my pair was still covered.  He then sent me a pre-paid mailing label to print out with detailed instructions on how to package them up.  I had them in the mail the day we got home from the hubby’s non-surgery.  I got a new pair in the mail on Monday . . .

I absolutely love these ear buds.  Even though I’d purchased an Apple watch a few weeks ago, it doesn’t do a good job tracking my heart rate when I lift weights.  I had done some research about this and discovered that the reason is that your blood vessels constrict when you work out, so it’s hard to keep a consistent and accurate heart rate on the watch.  The ear buds check your pulse through your ears.

Now, I will say that the power cut out on me three times yesterday when I was walking / working out, which was not good at all.  I’m going to track the issues and, if necessary, return them again.  Ugh.

One thing I learned while I didn’t have my ear buds was that I could still use the Record app, which is done by Under Armour.  My Apple watch connects to it via Bluetooth, so I can start workouts from either my phone or my watch (the app also installs on the watch) and track things there.  MyFitnessPal (my food app) receives the workout information from the Record app.  This has led me to believe that you can use the Record app with any Bluetooth enabled tracker.  Interesting, eh?  Oh, and I used my regular iPhone ear buds while I waited for the Under Armour ones to arrive, and I still got updates about my progress (calories and distance) from the Record app.  So cool!

One other thing I’ve been doing over here in the land of Auburnchick has been eating out with the Mr.

One day, he texted and asked about dinner.  Here’s what I sent him . . .

He wanted to know if I wanted to meet one of the guys he works with.  He even mentioned Mexican food, my favorite.

Thirty minutes later, the transformation was complete . . .

Forget the Today Show makeover.  All I needed was a straightener and my own makeup.

Last week, we visited an one of our favorite restaurants, Bonefish Grill.  We had not been there since I was in my boot . . . way back in January.  I wore a new shirt, which the Mr. had ordered for me.  Bonefish Grill has the kind of ambience you’d wear it to . . .

The back just makes this shirt . . .

What a lovely dinner too . . .

Don’t be hatin’

Edamame and the House Salad for me.  I can’t exactly remember what the Mr. got, but he was very happy.

There’s still more I could update you on, but this post is way too long already.  I’ll have to save the rest for another post (or two or three).

Autopilot

If I could choose a song title to represent my life right now, it would be “Achy Breaky Heart.”

Today marks one week since my sweet fur baby, Molly, passed away.

I had to take a break from my blog because the grief has been all-consuming.

I didn’t know the weight that sadness carried with it.

I’ve always heard people describe feeling numb after a tragedy.  I guess that was me in the initial hours as I had some practical stuff to take care of.  The worst thing was taking Molly to the vet so they could care for her body.

The Mr. helped me get her to the car, and I was so wracked with grief that I could hardly walk.  Parting with her at the vet’s office near about did me in.  I don’t even know how I managed to drive myself home.  Thankfully, nothing is very far in Podunk, Florida.

I had originally thought that I’d do my workout as a distraction.  The Mr. ordered me not to out of concern that I’d hurt myself.

Well, I don’t know what I was thinking, because by the time I got home, my limbs were so heavy that I barely made it to my bed, where I fell, exhausted and at the lowest I’d been in a very long time.

All I wanted was Molly, and I cried so hard for her.

I eventually dozed off until the Mr. came home for lunch.

After he left, I got up and saw to Pele and Gambit, who, the Mr. had reminded me, needed me more than ever.

I think sometimes we forget how sensitive animals can be, and those poor babies had been through the wringer as well.  Molly was their sister/mama, and her absence left them extremely confused and, dare I say it, sad.

I sat and loved on them the best I could, and then I blogged (my previous post).

Chicky called me a couple of times during the day and let me pour out my heart to her.  I’m thankful for her thoughtfulness.

Late that afternoon, I decided to go for a walk.  I knew I needed the fresh air, but y’all, it was so hard.

I don’t think I’ve ever cried when I’ve been out walking before, but I did just that . . . so many times . . . during my three miles.

Rooster called me while I was outside, and he listened patiently as I sobbed on the phone.  We had all been close to Molly.  Because he and I don’t have issues with allergies, we were able to handle her dog hair better.  Molly used to sneak into his room and crawl under his bed when she was afraid of storms.

When I finished my walk and looked at my stats, I was a little surprised.  Even though I had purposely walked a lot slower, my heart rate had been pretty high for most of my walk.  Grief can be so hard on a person’s body.

Going to bed that night was extremely difficult, and I put it off as long as I could.  Pele sensed my hesitation and did something he’s never done before . . . he slept beside my bed.

I slept pretty late the next morning, and I immediately started crying when I woke up.  Ugh.  What a tough way to start the day.

I found a sweet text from Rebecca, who was checking in to see how I was doing.

I don’t know what I would do with her.  She had prayed for us that long 4th of July evening when we knew that Molly wasn’t going to make it.  She was the first person I messaged right after Molly passed away, so she had been sharing, real time, in my grief.

Day 2 was as awful as the first day, and I frequently (and randomly) broke down in tears.

The dogs were still adjusting.

I made myself get out to a couple of places because, as I discovered, the world doesn’t stop spinning just because your heart is broken.  I hurried home though, not wanting to infect the public with my brand of sadness.

I made a batch of Chocolate Drizzled Peanut Butter Popsicles but had a hard time enjoying them.

The face of sadness, y’all, because I keep things real around here.

The Mr. and I attempted dinner out.  He even took me to get my favorite, Mexican, because I hadn’t eaten much in two days.  We talked about Molly . . . about how shocked we still were . . . about whether we could have done anything differently.

I did the ugly cry right there at our table.

What a hot mess.

After much discussion, we’ve come to the conclusion that Molly had probably been sick for a little while (the cough that started months ago), but that something brutal got a hold of her at the end and just wouldn’t let go.

Regardless, my heart still hurt.

Gambit kept close tabs on me, even sleeping on the floor (he rarely does this, preferring his dog bed) . . .

Day 3 was still tough, but I had the small distraction of playing with a friend’s son’s new puppy (no pictures of that).  My dogs were not amused when I got home.  I’m sure they felt as though I was already cheating on them.

I also braved the pool that day for the first time since Molly had passed . . .

With each day that passes, I can’t say that it’s getting easier yet.  I’m still waiting for that.

I still expect to see Molly’s face when I come home from being out.  In fact, that’s been one of the hardest things . . . coming home and knowing that she’s not going to be here to greet me.  One night, when the Mr. and I had gone out to eat, I sobbed as we entered the neighborhood and cried harder the closer we got to our house.  I tried to explain the reason for my tears.  He understood, but gosh, was it hard.  I sat in the car after we pulled into the garage, unable to make myself go in.  He waited until I collected myself.

Bless that man.  He’s grieving too, but he’s supporting me in his sweet ways.

He’s been printing pictures of our fur babies and buying frames.  This experience has been so very hard on both of us.

I’m on serious autopilot right now; joy is found in fleeting moments.

I’m loving extra on Pele and Gambit, finding comfort in their presence.

I found the following quote a few days ago, and it does a good job of summing up how I feel.

It’s not that my love has no place to go.  It’s just that the object of said love isn’t here to pour it out upon.

My sadness is magnified when I see tangible traces of her disappearing left and right.

There’s less of her hair in my vacuum.  Her dog beds are gone (I had to dispose of them because she’d soiled them when she was so sick).  I put away her food bowl.  In fact, only having to prepare two bowls for each feeding breaks my heart.  Even scooping poop in the back yard makes me sad as I realize that there’s nothing in her usual spots.  This might seem funny to some of you, but it doesn’t take much to trigger the tears.

There is just so much to miss:

The way she sidled up to me when she wanted attention
The way she would begin easing her way to me at the first sign of rain or thunder
The way she would patiently wait for her turn to be loved on while we were loving on the other dogs
The way she would slide down beside me on the floor while I was doing ab workouts
The way she would look up at me, her soulful eyes meeting mine, in silent conversation with me
Kissing her in the middle of her forehead where her hair was the softest
Hugging her for endless moments because she always had the most patience for it

I miss everything.

And so it is that even as I begin reincorporating more things into my routine, I do so a bit unwillingly and rebelliously.  I miss my furry friend . . . my partner in crime . . . my Mama Girl.

Oh, and a quick but heartfelt thank you for the prayers, texts, and messages on Facebook and Instagram.  God created us to glorify Him, and one way we do that is by supporting one another.  I don’t know what I would do without each of you.

Remembering Molly

Ten years ago, I brought this furry bundle of joy home from my local animal shelter.  I’d fallen in love with her from the moment I’d seen her.

She’d been found living on the street and couldn’t have been more than seven weeks old.  She was tiny and simply adorable.

Molly was a force to be reckoned with, let me tell you.  From the moment she tore into the house, she decided that she wanted to be the boss.  Aubie took issue with that, while Pele cowed behind Aubie.  Molly instantly took to her new big brother and hounded him relentlessly.  The first night with her in the house was quite the experience, and I wondered what I’d gotten myself into.

She was pretty sick those first few weeks with some serious intestinal parasite issues.  The vet who cared for her told me not to hold out for much . . . that she probably wouldn’t make it.

What nobody knew at the time was that Molly had a stubborn streak that was a mile long.

We took her to a soccer tournament in Virginia because she was too little and too sick to board.  She was so small that she crawled under the seats separating the front and back sections of the car.  Rooster took such good care of her during the games so that we could watch Chicky play.

Molly proved the vet wrong and survived those first few, antibiotic-laden weeks.

She actually did more than survive; she thrived.

I’m pretty sure there was more than her attitude and the medicine at work.

She was experiencing the power of love, and she gave as good as she received.

Molly didn’t like a lot of people; it took her a number of visits with someone to accept the person.

She immediately loved us, though, and was a loyal and protective companion.

She and Pele had tons of fun in those early years . . . back when Pele had ruined me, and I was letting the dogs get on the couches.  Mind you, Pele had just come into my home six months prior, so he hadn’t taken long to rewrite the rules that had been firmly in place for Aubie . . . typical second-child syndrome, you know.

Molly and Pele used to fly from one couch to another during play time.  They chased each other hard and fast.  This play continued even after they were banned from the furniture.  Every time Molly got a bath, her playful streak would come out, and she and Pele would go nuts.

From the get-go, we suspected that Molly had some cat DNA in her because she imitated some feline mannerisms.

For instance, she used to walk on the back of the couches when she and Pele would play,  She also liked to rub against people’s legs when they walked through the house.  That’s something she never stopped doing, and with her thick, white fur, dark pants and dresses were not safe while Molly was around.  She also rubbed up against the sides and back of the couches.  I later grew to suspect skin allergies were the cause of this, but who knows.

After Aubie passed away, Molly immediately took ownership of the Alpha position, and she quickly let the other dogs know it.  Pele often got in trouble for getting into stuff when her short, sharp bark alerted me.  I used to watch as he would throw her dirty looks when I was reprimanding him.  They were siblings in every sense of the word.  She did the same thing to Gambit when he would go to the neighbor’s fence to smash his head through to try to get to their dogs.  Molly was the enforcer.

Notice that I didn’t say that she was the rule follower.

Not only was Molly sassy, but she was smart.  Wicket smart.

Molly and Pele were best buddies and got into some trouble together.  We firmly believe that she and Pele were the fur baby equivalent of Bonnie and Clyde.  Molly was the brains, and Pele was the muscle.

Molly loved to run . . . out of the house and around the neighborhood.  You could watch the two of them communicate silently, with just a look.  It was in that moment that they would bolt for the laundry room door . . . the one that led to the garage.  Pele would jump on the door handle, pulling it down as he landed, and the two of them would run out of the garage to freedom.  We started keeping a key in the lock because of this.  She knew when that door was unlocked, and shenanigans would ensue.

Molly hated thunder but, as the Mr. discovered one day, loved to play in the rain.  She got out of the house when it was storming, ran to the pond across the street, and looked back at the Mr. as he tried desperately to get her in.  Despite the loud booming, that dog was only coming back when she was ready.  Remember that stubborn streak I mentioned?  Yeah, it wasn’t so good during these kinds of instances.

Molly’s need for speed, coupled with her intelligence, led to one of the funniest escape antics I’ve ever seen.

Here’s how she looked from the other side of the fence . . .

To be sure, Molly kept us on our toes!

She eventually mellowed out as all dogs are wont to do as they age.

She began getting gray hair in her ears, although her face maintained its puppy appearance.  Her wide girth often had us singing, “I like big butts, and I cannot lie.”

Ha!

In the last few months, Molly had begun coughing.  We figured it was from the tree bark that she was constantly chewing out back as limbs always littered the yard thanks to the storms that Florida is famous for.  When I took her to the vet for her yearly checkup in April, I was given a couple of antibiotics for a small red spot on her gums and told that her coughing was most likely allergies.  This made sense given how she’d spent years rubbing against the couches in what I suspect was her attempt to scratch her back.

In early June, Molly threw up a few times, and one night, she pooped in the house.  Her appetite was also beginning to wane.  I decided I needed to run her in to see what was up.

The first concern was her weight loss.

The vet put her on acid reflux medicine, and a round of (very expensive) blood tests was ordered up.  The doctor was looking for liver and kidney issues; however, everything came back clean.  The vet warned me that she couldn’t rule out cancer, especially for a ten year old dog like Molly.  There wasn’t much more she could tell me without sending me to a specialist who could do more invasive and very expensive tests.

So, I gave Molly her meds and tried everything in the world to get her to eat.  For awhile, she seemed to be getting better, but when the Mr. and I left for his surgery, she refused to eat for the dog sitter.

I’m so very glad that we were able to come home, sans surgery (see previous post), because Molly’s health started taking a turn for the worse.

Her eating was spotty, and she just didn’t seem to be herself.  We chalked that up to lack of food = lack of energy.  She was still drinking.

When you don’t feel good, the water comes to you.

I tried feeding her pureed pumpkin and even baby carrot food.  This dog was not living to eat but eating to live . . . albeit unwillingly.

I bought a couple of tubes of high calorie gel and used a syringe to feed it to her.  She despised it.  I was hoping to trigger her hunger mechanism or at least keep her going until whatever she was fighting passed.

It didn’t work, and by yesterday afternoon, she wasn’t tolerating the mix of Pedialyte/water that we were giving her.  She couldn’t keep anything down, and she was having trouble walking outside to potty.

It was awful, y’all.  To watch my big, strong girl lay, confused as she worked so hard to make it to her bed was gut wrenching.

We planned on taking her to the vet this morning if things didn’t improve.  We had a lot of people praying for her, and we were praying too.

The Mr. just didn’t want to make the decision about putting her to sleep.  Doing that with Aubie had nearly done him in with the second guessing.  He just couldn’t do that with Molly, and I couldn’t blame him.

Unfortunately, by 8pm, she was really struggling.  She just couldn’t get comfortable for long periods of time.

I asked the Lord to take her gently, but alas, that wasn’t the road He led us to travel.

I got the Mr. up at midnight, fearing that she was about to go.  He sat with us for two hours, and we spoke words of love into her soul.

We told her how much we loved her . . . what a wonderful dog she had been . . . how much we would miss her . . . that it was okay to let go.

She was stubborn though, and she would not give up.  By that time, she could only lift her head, and she repeatedly looked back at the Mr. to make sure he was still there.

The Mr. went back to bed around 2am; he had to go to work in the morning.  I grabbed my yoga mat, a pillow, and a blanket, and I nestled close to her with my arm around her neck.  She was at eye level with me.

I dozed off for about 45 minutes, and when I woke up, she was still taking ragged breaths.  It was obvious that she was not registering anything though; she seemed to be in a catatonic stage.

I sat with her another hour before things suddenly changed.  I yelled for the Mr., and he came running out of the bedroom.

Y’all, it wasn’t long before she took her final breaths.  It was the hardest thing I have ever watched, but I was determined to be with her to the end.  I think that she became aware of us at that point.  I hope we brought her comfort in her last moments.

And then, at 5:15am, she was gone.

I can’t type this without crying, but I need to process it, and this is the only way I know how.

The loss I felt in the moment she let go was devastating.  Although I am glad that her suffering is over, and y’all, she really, really struggled, I immediately grieved her absence.

This furry baby had been a part of my life for ten years.

That’s a long time.

She and I had a strong bond that was forged from understanding.  She was a unique blend of cray-cray that I totally identified with.  She was anti-social, and I can be that way too.  She used to hide under the bed when she got scared, and there are a lot of times when I retreat to my home to get away from things.

Brokenness met brokenness, and love bloomed.

That was my Molly.

I think that’s why we took such good selfies together.  I’m often teased for the stuff I post on social media, but I am so thankful for all of the pictures I have.  They paint a picture of my life with Molly, our closeness, and how empty of a space her passing has left.

I’m grieving hard, y’all.  This pill is a bitter one to swallow.

Yesterday morning, I woke up, and most things were right with the world.  Today, mine is turned upside down.

I am so grateful that we had Sunday, which was her last good day.  She got outside and enjoyed the sun (and selfies).

I trust God through all of this, as I see His hand of mercy through the events that led to today.  It’s not a coincidence that the last vet to treat her wound up being the first one who saw her and gave her such low chances of surviving her initial health crisis.  She even remembered Molly after all those years.  God had brought us full circle.

Still, my heart is shattered.

So, if you see me, and I seem sad, please understand why.

I need time to adjust.

I don’t know how long it will take me to get used to only seeing two dogs at the door when I come in . . . not hearing her shrill bark when I pull into the garage after work . . . not having her soulful eyes stare back at me when I lean in for a hug.

She used to do this thing where she would put her front paws on your shoulders when you reached down to pet her.  She was the only one of our dogs who could sit back on her haunches.

Gosh, but I’m really going to miss that.

I am praying that God allows our pets to be in heaven.  I want to be reunited with my sweet girl one day.

For now, I’ll let myself feel the hurt of mourning, and I won’t apologize for it.

I know that time will dull the sharpness of the pain, but for now, it’s razor sharp and is cutting through every fiber of my body.

I thank the Lord for leading me to her that fateful summer day ten years ago.  I pray that I was as faithful a servant to her as she was to me.

And to you, Mama Girl, I thank you for always trusting me, even when you didn’t understand.  They say that a dog is man’s best friend.  Well, girlfriend, you certainly earned that title.

I’ll never forget you, and I’ll always love you.

Love,

Mama

%d bloggers like this: