Sunday, May 26, 2024

The Little Things

I'm reclining in a GCI Outdoors camp rocker at 2:19 a.m., a sleeping baby in my lap, the sound and vibrations of a severe thunderstorm as my soundtrack, and a power outage. 
It would be nice to have another plush  rocking chair recliner like the one in which my daughter has fallen asleep while holding the other baby, but there is no more space for a large chair so we use a camp rocker. It folds flat, can hold 400 pounds, and is nice and roomy.
It's times like this that all the sleepless nights and dirty diapers seem to become fleeting memories. I am finding that I actually enjoy rocking babies in a camp chair. There is a nice reclining rocking chair. I just don't like it. I'm short, and it's made for taller people. But still, I don't remember the feelings I had when I rocked my own children,  but there is a weird contentment that comes with just being in the moment-- being in this moment.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Elodie, the Labradoodle. Mourning the loss of a pet.




Always alert 

Always running 

Always in the lead... 

You are 


Never relaxed 

Never content 

Never fully trusting you’re secure... 

You are 


We feed you 

House you 

Dress your constant wounds 


Take you to see new things 

Buy toys you shred 

Buy treats that last only minutes 


To see you smile 

To see your tail wag 

To see you’re aware that you’re loved... 

You are 

Too curious, too adventurous

Too anxious to explore

You are

Too trusting, too naive

Too sheltered from the outside world

You are

Gone now

Across the Rainbow Bridge

You are

I was out of town when I received word that she had escaped the person who was dog sitting for us. She had been gone for two hours before they found her down the street. I was told she was very much alert and happy to be back with them, but then her condition quickly deteriorated. She had passed just minutes before arriving at the vet's office.
I received the news as I pulled up to my hotel in Birmingham, Alabama (4 hours away) to check in. And I needed a moment I never thought I'd need.
Elodie was a great dog. She was protective, silly, and always up for a romp. But I didn't know I had the depth of feelings for her that I apparently showed. I cried for a few hours before going to the conference I was traveling for. Every commercial on the television screen seemed to show dogs and their people. Every billboard along the route to the conference location seemed to show dogs and their people. And just when I thought I was over it, people were outside the hotel with their dogs taking potty breaks...and the tears came back again.
It's not easy to lose a pet. Some people roll their eyes at the emotions people have for animals, but at the end of the day, grief is still grief. Pets may not be humans, but because we are humans we love. Pets are among our loved ones. They see us at our best and our worst. They listen to us as we complain about our days, tell them our secrets, and sing in the shower.
To be perfectly honest, Elodie got on my nerves. A lot. Because she was all the qualities I'd ever wanted in a dog, being "Elodie" was what was irritating and endearing about her. And I think that was why I was responding in a manner I'd not thought possible upon news of her death. I also knew things would be very different when I made it back home, but I didn't know just how different it would be without her. I didn't know just how much of my life included her.
We spent an hour a day walking or jogging in the mornings, rain or shine. When I come up for air from behind my computer desk during the day, Elodie and I spent time together outside on the tailgate of the farm truck. I ran new ideas by her. I sang songs to her I hadn't written onto staff paper yet. I complained to her and ranted about the news headlines I'd seen that day. It was very difficult the first few mornings back as I woke up and had to walk alone. I have stopped going the route I used to go with her because it just isn't the same. I don't even go to the same pet store anymore because I remember every place Elodie stopped to sniff the toys and treats that were placed just at puppy eye level.
Healthy grief is taking time to process your feelings. My daughter found another Labradoodle who looks identical to Elodie, although this one is a lot younger. I wasn't ready to lay claim to her, so my daughter has adopted Lily for herself. I have to tell you, while I'm not ready to interact with Lily, seeing virtually a young clone of Elodie is fascinating. It's like reliving the happy parts of her existence (without the attachment). Is this weird? Probably. But knowing Lily is loved, even if not by me, kind of makes it okay in my mind. She gets plenty of attention among the other dogs we have (the Labradoodle in her commands attention), but a part of me hangs back. I'm still getting over not having Elodie here, but in an odd way, it's like she never left.

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