Monthly Archives: December 2013

Saying Goodbye

I’m sitting in my bed watching the labored breath of my sweet baby Gracie Mae, and my heart aches. We adopted Gracie from a shelter on a very hot, muggy, July day ten and a half years ago. She has been so much a part of our lives over those years. The boys were only 5, 7 & 9 years old. They were so excited to finally have a dog! And they learned so much from her! We spent the first several years trying to keep her from running away – not always successfully. We have lots of memories of chasing her through the neighborhood when she slipped out the door. If it hadn’t been for her need to stop and poop after a long run, we never would have caught her.

On a vacation to Wisconsin, {why we took a new dog on a camping trip is beyond me!} she decided to go exploring. We were on a walk in the woods and one of the boys had a hold of the leash. She lurched and his little hands couldn’t keep hold. I think he even fell down trying. And she was off! Ears flapping in the wind, like she didn’t have a care in the world. Hubby and I went into full panic mode, searching the woods for this errant dog. All the possible horrible outcomes ran through my head. I envisioned putting up lost dog posters and lamented what to do when we don’t find her before vacation is over and its time to head home. Gut wrenching. We searched the woods a long time and decided we should go back to our campsite and regroup. At this point I was truly questioning the need for a dog when I had three little boys to keep track of! As we walked through the campground a little boy came up on his bike and said, “don’t you have a dog? I think we found her!” The sweet little girl must have realized having people was a pretty good gig and came home on her own. I aged a lot on that vacation. And she hasn’t been on a vacation since.

She has made many trips to the grandparents! My parents aren’t really pet people, but I knew they had fallen for Gracie when Hubby and I came home from an evening out with friends to find Gracie sound asleep on their bed with them:). She has that effect on people. She is a mild-mannered, lovable, but not needy girl. And she is truly a family member.

Which makes today one of the hardest days of my life. These are the times I don’t really want to be the parent. I would rather defer to someone else to make the hard choices.

Because Gracie was a stray, we don’t really know how old she is, but the doctors guess she is about 14 years old. That’s about 80 to you and me. She is not a spring chicken as my dad would say. She has lost weight and has been having some spells lately, really scary ones where she falls of the couch and can’t move at all. Most of it could be attributed to the aging process, and maybe strokes. But when it happened Thursday when just the boys were home, it was pretty frightening. Hubby took her to the vet and we found out she is a very sick girl.

Gracie has a large tumor, about 4+ inches in diameter, in her abdomen. We aren’t quite sure whether it is attached to her spleen or liver. Either way it’s operable…but she is still a very old girl. And odds are when they remove it they will find it is malignant. I think putting her through the trauma of surgery with little hope for a positive outcome would be cruel and a little selfish.

But it is so very hard to make the decision to let her go.

I think I’ve come to terms with it, knowing it’s the right decision and then she perks up and goes sniffing for crumbs in the kitchen and I question myself. We’ve talked a lot with the boys and they understand. But no one wants to say it’s time. So I called the vet and scheduled a time to let my little girl go.

And I can’t quit crying.

My mind knows it’s the right thing to do, but my heart hurts so much.

Gracie

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The Healing Power of Quiet

I don’t often have the opportunity for quiet. Or maybe I just don’t make the time for quiet.

I’m not sure which it is, maybe a bit of both. But when I do have a moment of solace. Quiet. I find peace and calm. It is intriguing to me how the absence of sound (other than the dog snoring on the couch beside me) can fill me up. Just sitting, alone with my own thoughts, if only for a moment. It is peaceful.

I have always been a very social person, being fed by the energy of interaction with others. But the older I get, the more I value the solitary moments. Not instead of interaction, but filling a different part of my soul. Maybe it’s another of God’s ways of preparing me for the life ahead. The days when my home will be silent more than chaotic. When the quiet of my living room will become deafeningly loud. The days when I will look back fondly remembering the wrestling matches in the middle of the living room. For the days when I will control the remote and miss the fights over what to watch. It is hard to see what is on the horizon and not feel a little apprehensive. Its a delicate balance between anticipating what is to come, not letting yourself be caught off guard, and continuing to be present in the here and now. Being careful not to worry or wish my life away. I guess that is the fine line I have been walking since a begged and pleaded for a full night’s sleep with a newborn or wished for just a day without a “why” from my toddler. Life is always changing. Thankfully. My challenge is to anticipate change, embrace it, welcome it, and yet be present in the moment. Not spending too much energy on the what ifs.

Silence allows me that room. The place where I can let go of the chaos of life, hear my own thoughts and maybe even dream a bit. Process life’s big events and the tiny ones too. Silence might be a good practice for this Advent season. Making room in my life for what God wants me to hear.

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Filed under Faith, Holidays