Tag Archive | loss

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.

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The Whisper that Began the Eva Series

For me, every book idea begins with one tiny whisper.

It may be so quiet at first that I don’t hear it, but then it works it’s way deep down inside until I can’t stop thinking about it. This is what happened with the Eva Series.

The story of Eva began as the whisper about a little girl who was abandoned and completely alone. Frightened and afraid, I couldn’t get her out of my mind. I thought about her incessantly until I had no choice but to write her story. When it was all finally there on the page, for the first time in my entire life, there was a part of me that was free. The story of Eva was born … and in many ways, her story was my own. Like Eva, I was also abandoned at around the age of two. While I don’t remember any of it, and the circumstances were completely different, the little girl left in a puddle lost and alone made me believe that I had to feel the same. As heartbreaking as her story is, there’s always been that part of me that kept it buried deep down, telling myself that it didn’t matter and it didn’t hurt anymore.

The truth is, it didn’t hurt at all until I had children of my own and I finally knew what true, honest, pure, undeniable love felt like. The pain I had been carrying around inside suddenly exploded without warning until I couldn’t imagine anything worse.

Writing Eva’s story was a way to exorcise my own demons and heal my own deepest wounds. I wrote it at a time in my life when I was the most alone and lost. While writing Leaving Eva helped to heal the past, it was also a distraction from the present because I had been deeply struggling with life on many levels. The only time I could find any normalcy was when I was writing because I was able to focus on the story instead of on my life, which was a train wreck. Throughout the years, getting married, having children, and building a career, I had forgotten how much writing had meant to me. It had been my own form of therapy when I was younger, and I had needed it.

Once I began writing,  it was impossible to stop, and though Eva’s story took many twists and turns that were not autobiographical, there are many elements that are. While I know that leaves much untold, the moments that are true are recognizable for those who can see it, and it’s best that way.

Eventually the series took on a life of its own and with healing, also came a renewed vision and creativity. What began as the story of a girl abandoned and alone became the story of a woman who was far stronger and more resilient than she ever imagined she could be. Her life and circumstances veered far from my own, and while Eva’s story will always be close to my heart, the story that remains the closest to my own, is only the first one.

I’m happy that I wrote it because it became far more than I ever imagined it to be, opening doors to friendships and people that I never realized would mean so much. What began as a whisper, became an orchestra of beautiful music and a world that has brought me more joy and happiness that I ever knew could be possible.

For that one tiny whisper and for Eva, I will forever be grateful.

 

 

 

Happy Christmas

I’m happy this Christmas.

Really, truly, and peacefully happy. Not because there is a BIG box under the tree with my name on it. And not because I’m finally done my Christmas shopping.

I’m just happy.

I’ve had horrible and sad Christmases when I’ve lost loved ones either to uncertainty, death or to themselves. And they were so difficult that I don’t even know how I made it through. But for the first time, in many years, all finally seems right with the world.

I’m not happy because everything is perfect. It’s happiness that acknowledges that it’s not, but that life remains worthwhile. It’s happiness you can only know after you’ve been through a valley. A deep, dark, endless valley.

I won’t freak out this year when things don’t happen “on time” or exactly as planned. Because I have the most wonderful people in my life and I am a fortunate person. I’ve made it through some of the valleys. So I’m going to gather my strength, count my blessings, and love my precious ones like there is no tomorrow.

Because it is certain in life, that there will be more valleys. But for now I am going to enjoy the beauty of Christmas.

I hope that you will too. And that it will be beautiful, magical, and full of love.

Blog challenge Day 20-a Difficult Time in My Life

When I started this blog challenge, this was the blog day I was dreading.

Nobody wants to rehash difficult times…or dwell. We work hard to overcome them, move past them, and if possible- forget. I also knew that I needed to be able to share without sharing any of the gory details. I can write a mean scene in a book, but I have no desire to openly share the ugliest moments of my life.

I finally realized that every difficult time in my life involves loss….physical, figurative, perceived. But loss nonetheless. I lost two friends in car accidents in my 20s, my grandmother who I adored when she was in her 90s. I lost the parents who adopted me. The dad I knew as an adult was struck down with a debilitating stroke, and the mother I knew to encephalitis. Though they are still physically there, the people I knew are gone forever. I lost friendships. I lost relatives to death, and I lost my birth parents, or maybe they lost me. I almost lost my niece to cancer, but thank God she was spared. And I almost lost love, but love always seemed to come back for me.

I write a lot about Loss because I’m intimately in tune with it. And while I do as much as I can to move past it, it still haunts me. So I try to dwell on what I’ve found instead of what I’ve lost. If I only thought of what I had lost, I don’t think I could get up every day. I try to focus on my happiness and not my sadness. The difficult times are bound to find me, but I’ve been through them before. Loss will find me again, and I dread it, but I can’t hide from it or live in fear of it. So instead – I search for joy, laughter, and love, knowing that I can’t stop the rain.

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Unable are the loved to die~Emily Dickinson

Unable are the Loved to die For Love is Immortality, Nay, it is Deity—

Unable they that love—to die For Love reforms Vitality Into Divinity.

~Emily Dickinson

I’ve always loved this little poem.  It’s given me comfort in the death of loved ones on several occasions.  But it doesn’t completely remove the sting of death.  Death is cruel.  Death is painful.  Sometimes for the ones who go, but always for the ones who are left behind.

In the wake of losing a loved one, it pains me to see the hurt in those who loved him the most, knew him the best.  When I lost my Grandma, I felt like a piece of me died, never to be returned.  I can still hear her calling my name, talking, telling me stories.  I can still feel the softness of her skin and see her smile when I close my eyes.  And I know that one day it will be me.  I know that, if I’m lucky, that one day I’ll be the old woman and they will have to say good-bye to me.

I know that part of life is death.  But it seems cruel and unusual nonetheless.  I watch the news and see mothers, fathers, and babies, gone before their time.  And it makes me wonder What is the point?  What are we really meant to do in this short time?  Life IS short.  I’m at least, if not more than halfway through mine.  And it’s been wonderful, and awful, and amazing, and unbearable.  But sometimes I wonder What am I really meant to do?  Is this all that there is?

I look at my children, and I know that it is so much more.  The promise, the expectation, the anticipation is all wrapped up in their little hearts and minds.  And like all loving parents, I am hopeful, so hopeful that their life will be so much more than mine.   And then I think that I’ve gotten it at least partly figured out. 

But then I think about people who suffer, truly suffer, without the reward of hope and I wonder what the purpose of their life was, and I hope that they knew before they went.  Death makes you think of the damndest things. 

I think that the cruelest thing about death is the bond that is ultimately broken between those who go and those who stay.  When you truly love someone and they leave you, it becomes a chasm so big in your soul that you wonder if it can ever be filled.  And while you know that those who go wouldn’t want you to suffer, you can’t help but suffer anyways.  Because that’s who it feels without them.  Empty, lonely, terrible, sad.  You miss their essence, their love, their spirit, and everything about them that made them special and endeared them to you.  And when they are your confidante, your protector, your everything, it’s difficult to imagine that you can ever be whole without them. 

I imagine that my gift to my grandmother is my children, my life, and everytime that I laugh or that I think of her.  I have missed her during some of the most difficult times of my life, wishing that I could feel her arms around her or hear her tell me she loved me.  I know that she could have made everything right with the world again, had she been here. And I regretted every time I didn’t see her when I should have and that I didn’t love her more when she was here with me.  It’s only then I understand that she is always with me in my heart, in my soul, in my mind, in my very being and I realize that as long as I think of her she will always live on.  My sons never really knew her, but they know that I loved her and they know the stories that I tell them about her.  And they know how much she would have loved them too.  

Unable are the Loved to die For Love is Immortality, Nay, it is Deity—

Unable they that love—to die For Love reforms Vitality Into Divinity.

 

R.I.P~Jack and Jean Qualey, Bob Walton, Alberta and George Walton, Clarence and Frances Campbell, Jill Rendel, Colin Kelly, Kristina and Kayla Harding, Ed Bryner, Donna Moran, Mickey Tober

 

Blog Challenge-Day 4

The question is…What are you afraid of? 

I’ve been putting this one off because I don’t deal well with fear.  I wasn’t sure if I should share a physical fear (i.e. snakes, rats, mice) or if I should share an emotional fear.  I was tempted to cop out and just say that I’m afraid of anything scary and squirmy and leave it at that.  But I thought it would minimize the whole point of what this challenge is all about.

Fear.

I’ve been afraid of many things in my life, and I don’t know that I can honestly share them all.  One of my favorite lines in a song is “Have you ever looked fear in the face and said ‘I just don’t care’?”  I’ve faced a lot of my fears.  And then there are some that I know I will never face.  I will never jump out of an airplane.  I will never volunteer to lie in a plastic coffin and let someone pour scorpions and snakes all over me.  I will never eat a live insect or bite the head off of a mouse.

What I fear the most is….

being Lost.

Mentally, emotionally, creatively, morally.  And yet, it is something that we can’t often control. Sometimes someone loses it for you without your knowledge or  permission. And sometimes you just lose it for yourself without even realizing it until it’s gone.  I’ve had a lot of loss in my life, and the thing I fear the most is what I sometimes can’t control. 

I know that people will hurt me and I know that I will sometimes do things to hurt myself.  There have been moments when I don’t even recognize myself anymore and I have lost that important sense of who I am.  And that terrifies me in the sense of being someone’s most important person, whether it is as a mother, wife, friend, daughter.  I’ve lost myself so many times that I know how difficult it is to find your way again. 

I think you have to sink to the depths to know true fear.  And once you have it you have to make sure that it doesn’t cripple you, which can be a feat in and of itself.  But fear can’t be a factor in living life, especially a life worth living.

So I fight my demons every day and try to look fear in the face and say “I just don’t care.”