Archives

A Dog Named Libby

Today was a dark day.

It was one of the worst we’ve had in many years, and for a long time there were a lot of them. But we knew this day was coming and despite the anticipation, we still weren’t prepared for how hard it would hit us and how much it would hurt.

Once a family of six, we are now a family of five, saying good-bye to our sixteen year-old fur baby, Libby.

We knew it was time. We purposely didn’t travel for our summer vacation because we didn’t want to be away when it happened. Coincidentally (or not) it did happen during our vacation. A dog smarter than most, we’ve come to the conclusion that she knew when she wanted to go. She waited until after her human brothers were done with their baseball seasons and she was surrounded by the ones who loved her the most, to make her departure. She did it gracefully and considerately like she did everything else.

She came into our lives at just the right time and left the same way. She was the perfect dog, a wonderful companion with a beautiful soul. She gave us comfort and hope and joy, and I’m afraid I’ll never find that in another dog again.

I’m sure you can tell I’m a dog person and always have been.

From my own Princess who lived to about sixteen and died in my arms, to my grandparent’s dachshunds, and then my own two dogs, I’ve always loved their soft brown eyes, wagging tails, and happy tongues. Nearly every member of my family has a dog, and I’m that girl that wants to be best friends with every dog I meet.

Their loyalty and happiness, goofiness and unbridled joy, is not only endearing but inspiring and I can’t imagine a world where they don’t exist. Between you and I, I prefer them to most people. They don’t complain, judge, or criticize. They don’t care if you’re successful, pretty, or smart. If you’re sad they try and make you happy and if you’re happy, they try and make you even happier.

Their only purpose in life is to make yours better. I don’t know that there’s another creature on earth who is that unselfish and loves you so unconditionally, even after only knowing you for two seconds.

That’s why the loss of our girl was so difficult. She was the perfect dog. Everyone said so and everyone who met her loved her instantly. She was gentle and loving. As a puppy she was adorable. As an older dog, she was a sweet lady with soft fur, perky ears, and an agreeable personality.

My husband was the one who adopted her. He found her during an APL event and chose her because she was the runt, but she fought back against a sibling who was trying to bully her. He chose her for her spirit and she was forever bonded to him because of it.

He was her person and if he was nearby she was over the moon. This loyalty lasted throughout her entire life, even up to the end. They loved each other and because of him, we got to love her.

When we got her she was shorter than a wine glass. She was supposed to be a Pomeranian mix and no bigger than ten pounds. Imagine our surprise when she grew to thirty-five pounds and we discovered that she was a Shepard-mix instead.

We had so many nicknames for her. Libby Jean (named after my mother-in-law), Libbers Bajibbers, Jib-jibs, Satchel Page (I think that’s a baseball player), Libs Bajibs, Libbers, Libs, Wibby Wibby, pretty girl, and Libby-Lou. She loved her pink stuffed piggy and a stuffed animal of Paddington Bear, who ended up a shell of himself without eyes, stuffing, or clothes. He became a naked and empty carcass covered in dog slobber and smothered with love.

Her favorite thing in all the world was tennis balls. She loved to chew on them and chase them and she was fast. Really fast. She jumped, ran, leapt, and raced after them with everything inside of her, tongue flapping, legs flying, bursting with happiness anytime she found someone who would play with her. She carried that ball in her mouth until she would find a sucker to throw it to her and she always did.

Notice the tennis ball at Libby’s feet.

She’d take her soggy, spit-filled ball and set it on your lap, or roll it toward you, until you acquiesced and played with her. She was relentless and full of joy, and she knew that eventually you’d give in because you wanted to. She begged you with her beautiful brown eyes to play and it was impossible to deny her.

She ran like that for many years until her legs started to give out and we had to stop her from running so much in order to save her legs. She would’ve ran like that until the day she died if we would’ve let her.

Her second favorite thing was her family. She loved company because she loved her people. She was especially fond of her grandparents and aunts and uncles. She loved being the center of attention and basked in everyone’s love and attention. She was easy to love and everyone did.

She also loved to sleep on my husband’s pillow during the day. She’d put her butt right on it and when he would lay his head down at night, he’d have a face full of dog hair and know that his pillow was full of dog-butt. I didn’t envy him for that.

A Shepard-mix, she was strong and intelligent, and highly intuitive. Her mind was nimble but her body could no longer make it which was perhaps one of the saddest parts of all of this. She still wanted to play and run but her body told her that she was too old, and she didn’t like that one bit.

She was funny and feisty and bossy. Toward the end, she often refused food, so every day was a challenge to get her to eat. Some days she would only eat out my hand, other days she would only eat chicken and rice, burger meat, roast beef or soft dog food. She knew what she wanted and didn’t want and kept life interesting.

She was the one who made us a family. We had her three years before our children were born and she was always our baby. Spoiled, loved, and adored we were so happy to have her for as long as we did. We know how lucky we were that she had such a full life, but it still doesn’t feel like it was long enough.

Not nearly enough.

I could’ve had another sixteen years with her. I could’ve had her for the rest of my life. It doesn’t make sense that they’re gone so soon when we love them so much but I know that I have to let her go.

I know that part of life is loving and letting go. I also know that I am sad because I didn’t get to love her as long as I wanted to. I don’t know that I would ever be ready to let her go but I’ll have to. I have to show my children that this is a part of life and that you can’t be afraid to love, because you have to say good-bye. I have to show them that it’s worth it, and important, and worth doing again and again.

There will never be another girl like Libby. She was perfect. But I know that there will be another pup for us to love when we’re ready. We still have one pup we adore and while my husband swears that there will be no more dogs because it hurts so much, I know he’ll change his mind … eventually.

His heart is too big not to fall in love and want to rescue another one. There will be one who loves and needs him as much as Libby did, who will capture his heart at just the right time. In the meantime, we’ll mourn and remember our perfect girl.

Our hearts are broken but they’ve been broken before. Only love and time will heal us and we’ll be thankful that we got to spend so much time with such a beautiful soul.

And we’ll be thankful.

So very thankful.

Advertisements

30 Day Writing Challenge-First Kiss and First Love

Even though it’s only day three of the challenge, this day had me a little miffed on how I would write about it.

Writing about my  first kiss, is easy. I was thirteen, he had blonde hair and blue eyes, and it was unremarkable, unemotional, and nothing special. I only remembered it because it was the first one of my young life.

Writing about my first love is more complicated, but nobody said this writing challenge would be easy. I mentioned in my post yesterday about my first memory and how my journey began alone and unknown. In hindsight, it seems that those early beginnings galvanized me and while I fell into infatuation in my younger years, romantic love didn’t come easily or openly to me.

But this is about first loves and I’ve had many.

I can remember falling in love with books at a young age. I remember reading the simple ones, then moving on to comic books and then the more difficult reads as I grew older. I read every Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Nancy Drew, and VC Andrews book that I could get my hands on. I read anything and everything that captured my young heart and mind. Reading was bliss and nothing in the world made me happier than a good book. My mom used to say that the house could fall down around me while I was reading, and that I would never know. She wasn’t wrong. I read in the car, on vacation, on the bus, and in bed when I was supposed to be asleep. I had a book in my hand everywhere I went and the library was my refuge. 

God was also one of my first loves, teaching me selflessness and dedication. For many years in my early life, I clung to my spirituality, committed to it like one is to committed to their first romantic relationship. I was so in love that I even went to a Christian College, and contemplated a life of service, but certain events in my life steered  me in a completely different direction. 

Only as an adult did I discover my first opportunity for romantic love. But as it happens in life,  I didn’t realize it until it was too late.  By the time I did, too much had shifted and settled, and I realized that  it came down to most things in life; timing. Our timing was always off so we were left with only memories.

Years later, I met my husband, my first great love. Through hell and back, ups and downs, I’ve learned what it means to love, honor, and cherish, until death do us part. The vows weren’t “only when it’s perfect,” and while there have been plenty of opportunities for both of us to give it all up, in spite of it all we love each other. We love and fiercely protect the family we’ve made and the bonds we’ve created, for ourselves and our children. We’ve laughed and cried, walked away from and ran toward one another. But so far, we haven’t given up, on ourselves or on each other, which is what we promised in the beginning.

Lastly, my boys have been the first people I’ve loved in this life, without condition. They’ve taught me what it’s like to love from a perfect heart and I’ve become a better, stronger, and kinder person because of their love. I see myself through their eyes, even when it’s not good, and I know now what true love is. It’s accepting every apology, righting every wrong, and loving someone until you feel that your heart will explode out of your chest. It’s doing what you don’t want to because you know it’s the right thing to do, for them. It’s doing everything in your power to protect their hearts and preserve their minds from anger, hatred, and imperfection so that they can stay little boys for just a little while longer.

Loving my children had been a willing exercise in humility and sacrifice, that makes me want to do my best every day.

As I thought about this post, I knew that I would need to be thoughtful about it because love of any kind is personal and emotional. I’m fortunate that I’ve loved a great deal and had so much love in my life. I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. 

The Most Interesting People I Know…

I’ve met a lot of interesting people in my life. Heroes, criminals, writers, college dropouts, and self-made millionaires. But by far, the most interesting people I know actually live in my house, and are under the age of ten.

I was adopted, so for all of my life, there was nobody that looked like me, sounded like me, or resembled me in any way. That is… until my two precocious little boys came a long. Suddenly, I was surrounded by two little people who mirrored my husband and I, both in appearance, personality, and behavior. It was uncanny and miraculous, and I was instantly in love.

What has truly been amazing about this journey of motherhood, has been how interesting I find them. Sometimes I feel like a mad scientist or a child psychologist stalking my little experiments, watching them change and grow. Seeing them develop from tiny dependent babies to funny and intelligent little boys has been all-consuming, so much more than I ever imagined.

My oldest son, Jack, is like my husband in many ways. And because I understand him, my depth of understanding has also grown for my husband. The “baby”, Charlie, is most like me so I understand how infuriating my stubbornness can be. The beautiful pattern of our family is woven by common threads, as well our own dynamic personalities. I am often mesmerized by how truly amazing it all is.

I could listen to my children talk all day. And right now, they love to talk to me. They can’t wait to share things and tell me what is on their minds. They share every idea, hope and thought with me and I can’t get enough of it! I truly love watching their minds work, thoughts formulate, and theories about life develop.

I love how much they rely on my husband and I to help create their core beliefs. But it’s always fun to watch how they take what they’ve learned and run with it. Whether it’s the answers to the big questions or the little ones, it feels like a privilege to witness them evolve and grow.

Jack recently realized that he has the ability to “choose” the big things in his life. Up until then, he believed that his course was set by us. It never occurred to him that he could do something different than what his Dad and I decided. This revelation that he could actually decide, didn’t change much for him. But his mind opened up just a little bit more on that day. With his newfound epiphany he edged slightly away from my little boy, to a wiser one.

I read somewhere that if you listen to your children when they are small, they will come to you when they are bigger. I’ve become a better listener, and what I’ve found is that I’m actually very interested. Whether it is their plan for their world in Minecraft, or what they are doing in school, or which wrestler is making his return debut-I hang onto their every word. And I listen. Always.

They are so interesting. Their passion, reflection, thoughts, beliefs, and ideas. They are a gift wrapped up in a beautiful little package borne of innocence, goodness, and discovery. All of which are gone way too quickly. I don’t remember thinking and imagining so sweetly. Those days are long gone for me, but when I see them in my children I find so much joy and happiness.

Charlie still believes in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, even though Jack has spilled the beans on countless occasions. But Jack still thinks that his dad and I are the best people in the world, and they both still love to cuddle with us every chance they get.

I am anxious to see what they will become. I can’t wait to watch and listen to them grow, though I am not in a hurry for them to do so. And I can’t believe that I made such beautiful children and that they can mesmerize me so completely.

I hope that as a mother, this complete interest in them early in their lives will open the door to more important moments when they are older. The conversations that will be needed when they are struggling with life and with themselves.

I don’t see myself ever losing interest in them, but I’m a realist and I know that there will be times-maybe even years when it will have to be from afar. But I hope they will always know that they will remain the most interesting people in my life.

And I hope against hope, that they will feel just a smidgen of that for me. ❤

The More That Things Change…

I’m a romantic at heart.

I love fairy tales and happily ever after. My favorite movies, stories, and books are about love and fluff and magic. It’s strange, but I don’t write those stories, yet I love to indulge in them.

Even though those types of stories appeal to me greatly, I can’t ever seem to find myself in them. I tend to see myself more in the characters that are flawed and lost, which is also what I tend to write about the most. I’ve tried to transform myself over the years yet I remain the same. As much as I would like to change, and adapt, and grow into a softer person; I find that I actually fight the darkness more over time.

It’s not that there isn’t kindness, compassion, and thoughtfulness within me. It’s just that I tend to gravitate more in the other direction. I joke about fighting the demons, but I mean it when I say that I do. Somewhere deep inside of me, there is someone that only three people in my life have ever been able to completely crack. My grandma, and my sons. I find a dormant different side of myself with my sons, as I did with my grandma when she was alive. 

I don’t know if it is because I was adopted, or because I was abandoned, or just a result of life. I’m not sure if it’s because of an early struggle for survival. But I do know that I tend to be in constant survival mode; waiting, and watching, wrought with anticipation. When I was younger, I do think that I was softer. I know that in my youth, I was more free. But as I’ve gotten older, I realize that this is who I have always been. Even as a little girl, I didn’t have the same hopes or expectations as other little girls. I just saw life in a different way.

I do adore the happily ever after and it’s doubtful that will ever change. In many ways, I’m living the happily ever after. I am surrounded by the people I love the most, living a life that I am very fortunate to have. But it is also the struggle with the darkness, that makes me who I am. I have learned to embrace it, with the knowledge that I am who I am, and that it will probably never change.

Because the more that things change, they also stay the same, because I am the same. 

2014!

My children measure time, regularly.

They often remark on how fast the weekend has gone or how slow time goes when they are bored. They are more aware of time than I was at their age. Teaching them to “live in the moment” or “to be patient” have been every day lessons in our home, but ones worth repeating.

As 2013 is now finished, it’s the first time in many years that I can look back and feel peaceful conclusion. The year is over and with it is comes some much needed closure.

Writing two books and finishing them was a huge accomplishment and a lifelong ambition in 2013. I gained a sister-in-law, because closer to my family, and learned how to prioritize the important things in my life. I’ve watched my children grow another year older and seen my niece go another year cancer-free. I’ve grown emotionally and intellectually into a person that I finally feel proud of.

Another New Year means that I’ll be another year older also. I struggle against it like most people my age do. I want my twenty one year old body with the experienced mind that I have now. Somehow it doesn’t seem right to have wasted all of my beautiful youth on such stupidity, though I realize it was just meant to be that way. I realize that I have no choice but to accept it and age gracefully.

I’ve never been one to make NY resolutions. But this year, I am going to resolve to be healthier. It’s selfish really. I want to look better, feel better, and live longer. And while none of that guarantees that I won’t get hit by a bus tomorrow, I can just do my best.

2013 wasn’t the worst year that I’ve ever had, and it wasn’t the best. But there were a lot of beautiful moments that I’ll always treasure.

I know that I have a lot to look forward to, which is a beautiful thing. I am going into the year with a new perspective and excitement that I haven’t been able to muster for a while. Most importantly, I am counting every beautiful thing and person that I have in my life. I certainly haven’t done anything to deserve them, yet they are there.

I hope that anyone reading this has a wonderful 2014. And if life hasn’t been great, I hope that you find promise. Hope is sometimes all you need to pull you into a life that is worthwhile. Believe me, I know.

Much Love and Happy New Year!

Life is…

Life is…
Loving, learning, hoping, hurting, wanting, dreaming…
Failing,
Reinventing,
Regrouping,
Redeeming,
Reflecting.
Life is…
Full of joy, sadness, sorrow, pain…
The quickening of the pulse,
The beating of the heart,
It’s the glory in the rise,
and the humiliation of the fall.
Life is…
asking for forgiveness,
Begging for truth,
Finding beauty in the pain.
It’s looking in the mirror,
and not liking what you see.
Life is…
about change,
about growth,
about loving who you are.
And knowing that you will
never be the same again.
Life is…
erasing Anger,
Letting go of Hatred,
Finding your compassion,
Finding yourself.
And Life is…
Beauty, sorrow, incredible, amazing, unimaginable happiness, and undeniable grief.
But through it all,
Life is a gift,
And Life is… Good.