Monthly Archives: August 2020

Smudge Love

One month ago today, the world lost Smudge.

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This loss came four days after my dad succumbed to complications of Guillain-Barré syndrome.

July was a tough month for me.

In some ways, losing Smudge is more difficult than losing my dad. With my dad, I had a few weeks to prepare. I saw him suffer – first in the hospital and then at home in hospice care. Even with the hourly morphine he lived in pain. Nobody should have to live or die like that. I’m grateful he’s now at peace.

With Smudge, I had no preparation. I received a message on my phone that Smudge had been taken to the vet that morning. The vet recommended he be put down as soon as possible because tumors had infiltrated several organs.

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I remember sobbing words like, NO, and it’s too much. I remember the weight of the news literally knocking me to the floor. I pushed a button on my phone and talked to Smudge’s human brother. He held his phone out so I could see Smudge at the vet. It was through video messenger that I said goodbye to him.  I told him he was so handsome. That he was the best good dog ever. That I loved him. Then I hung up because I was afraid my sobbing through the video was causing more stress to Smudge than he needed.

I will never be able to thank Smudge’s human brother enough for calling me. For giving me a chance to say goodbye.

One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t see Smudge before I left for Pennsylvania when my dad took a turn for the worse. I stopped to see my friends Cecily and Dodger on my way out of town. I didn’t know how long I’d be gone, and I thought if I didn’t see them, I would regret it.

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Dodger of Cecily & Dodger

The world can be cruel that way.

It didn’t occur to me to stop and see Smudge and Faith. I knew Faith might not be here when I got back. The vet found a tumor on her liver in January. Every extra moment I’ve had with her has been a gift. I already said goodbye to her, just in case, when our housesitting gig with them ended in June. I whispered in her ear all the things I love about her. I told her how much I loved taking care of her.

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But Smudge … the last time I saw him he danced around the yard, splashing in the pond, and wagging his tail at the speed of light. I thought Smudge might actually live forever. Or at least to 16 or 18 years old.

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The last time I said goodbye to Smudge it was more of a see you later. I fully expected to have more time with him. I would sit on the rock in the pond and we would be together. I would nuzzle his head and rub his ears. Then, I would kiss his forehead and say see you later. We would then repeat this togetherness for months or years to come.

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I could not have been more wrong.

This pain and regret will be with me for months, if not years, to come. Much like the time I thought I had with Smudge.

The thing is, it’s totally worth it. Because I got to love Smudge for almost four years. I wouldn’t trade that time and those experiences for anything.

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Good-bye, Smudge! I’ll see you later.

 

Happy Birthday to Me, Happy Birthday to My Blog

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Yesterday I turned 43 and this blog turned 4. The amount of joy I feel on any given birthday can be hit or miss.

I’ve celebrated some birthdays in the most wonderful ways, surrounded by friends or family.

Four years ago, on the day this blog was born (and my first birthday married), Heath surprised me with the one thing I asked for: a birthday party with the animals wearing party hats. We were housesitting in Johnsonville, NY, for the summer and the animals included dogs, cats, and goats.

Only the dogs wore actual hats to the party. The cats and goats smiled for Heath’s camera and then Heath photoshopped the appropriate party wear onto those pictures.

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Other years, particularly my first few in Illinois, I spent my birthday alone. On those birthdays, I sat alone on my couch. An occasional text or phone call would come in. Sometimes, I responded and sometimes I didn’t. Because in those times of loneliness it can be hard to accept long-distance birthday wishes when all you want is someone right there next to you.

This birthday, I am not alone. I am with my mom and brother. They made my favorite cake – butterscotch!

 

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Heath showered me with treats on Thursday night before I drove to Pennsylvania on Friday, including surprising me with vegan bacon cheesy fries from Arles & Boggs, my favorite restaurant, located in Wallingford, CT. Wallingford is 65-miles one way from Norfolk, so this was quite the commitment from Heath. He then made a trip to Dee’s One Smart Cookie, an allergen-free bakery in Glastonbury, to get me gluten-free chocolate chip sandwich cookies. They’re a favorite sweet indulgence of mine and I enjoyed every bite of them.

I also received multiple birthday cards in the mail. Dozens of social media birthday greetings and text messages blew up my phone. I spoke with friends and family on the phone, some for over an hour. It was a perfect birthday.

And, yet … this birthday of mine has been underscored with sadness. On July 19th, my father died of complications from Guillain-Barre syndrome. Then, on July 23rd, Smudge had to be unexpectedly put down. It is a lot of loss and grief to experience, especially during a time of pandemic when there is already so much stress and uncertainty bubbling around us.

This birthday is an excellent example of the duality of life in which my therapist has been working with me over the past few weeks. Yes, it was a perfect birthday. Yes, I feel sad. Both can be true.

I don’t really have much more to say right now.

Thank you to everyone who made this is a perfect birthday.

Dad, I love you!

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Smudge, I love you, too!

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