Some things have happened since my last entry.
We had to put down our sweet Birdie Mae Meadowfrost on 9/11 a couple weeks short of being 9 months old. Her kidneys were malformed at birth and she got incredibly sick incredibly fast. It was torture to watch this sweet little shih tzu puppy who had the disposition of an angel, go through such sickness.
We decided on a Tuesday we’d put her down on the Friday, during that week we had time to say goodbye, and so did all her friends. She had quite the following! After we took her on her last car ride, snuggled all day and cried our eyes out the vet came to our house and it was sweet, painless and super dee duper sad. We buried her under her favorite spot in the yard under our cherry tree. Our vet said, and we knew already, Birdie’s personality and disposition was a “once in a lifetime, if you’re lucky type of dog”
We cried for about a week straight. But we really had one whole day to ourselves to grieve her as my grandfather’s health had been quickly deteriorating since July. Birdie died on a Friday and that Sunday Brett and I went to spend the night with grandpa.
At the beginning of July my Grandpa David, who fought in two wars, was living by himself, doing all his cares, feeding himself and driving his big ass truck to the tackle store for a few hours of coffee and fish stories. By 9/13, that Sunday we spent the night, he was using a walker with max assist, unable to get to the bathroom himself, had 24hr home health care (supplemented by my wonderful family), was in the throes of dementia barely able to talk and not really eating that well. It was a really hard time for my family.
The following Friday we spent the night again. When I arrived around 4pm grandpa was slumped to his left side and not able to talk at all. He was refusing food and choking on every sip of water. We could not give him meds, water or food. My Aunt, cousins and I put him bed that night and got several smiles from him. It was a beautiful moment really, here was this 96 yr old man in his beautiful home surrounded by his family and he seemed content to accept our kisses on his head, answering only in smiles. We hope he did not see our tears.
That night I listened to my grandfather slowly drown in his own secretions. As a nurse I knew he’d lost the ability to handle his own secretions and this was a very normal part of the death process. That logic did not stop me from wishing for a suction machine, rolling him on his side and softly trying to coax him to clear his lungs. It was a really long and painful night. I laid there in my Grandmother’s bedroom staring at the blank slanted ceiling where I remember her telling me stories while I played with shadows above made by her bedside flashlight, a lifetime away from her now. Her ashes in a beautiful box on her antique dresser were a small comfort that night I laid in her room with my husband listening to her husband begin to die.
Around 4am I called hospice and we started to give him morphine and Ativan as often as we could.
Sunday morning 9/20, after a weekend of my family gathering, telling stories, looking at albums, crying, drinking, loving and laughing- he went home.
It’s not easy to watch the patriarch of a family waste away and die, but I have to say my family was amazing. My maternal grandmother and grandfather had four children: two girls and two boys. My mother and aunt died long before their parents leaving my two uncles, one lives here in Utah with his wonderful wife and three kids, the other lives in Idaho Falls with his super cute wife, no kids. We, the grandkids, are a small group of my sister, my three super amazing cousins and myself. It’s a small close family and in all honesty we could have really made it difficult except that we all love and respect each other, we all had a role to play and we fulfilled those roles with grace.
Three days later 9/23 I turned 40. I had a friend coming into town, Harmony, for the big event. Had a big party planned that Brett would not allow me to cancel. He said it’d be good to see our friends and it would take my mind off things. So we threw a huge party in our backyard. It was quite magical really. The theme was “stories” and my friend who’s been in theater 30 years or more set us up a stage with lights and properly arranged seating. People brought their best food, drink and some really amazing stories. I’m super glad we did not cancel and I think so were the 50 or so people who attended.
9/25 early in the morning Brett, Harmony and another friend Rebecca and my father piled coolers of amazing food, sleeping bags and a guitar in my Dad’s truck and we went to Lake Powell to spend a week on our houseboat.
Sitting in the captain’s chair driving the houseboat as it chugged along the lake I felt like a balloon tight with tension fit to burst, but each inch we chugged along I was losing air hissssssssss. I started to breathe, I started to relax, I started to feel so many knots untie themselves, I started to feel the sun on my shoulders the gentle rocking of the boat and the incredible love between passengers. I’m driving this boat, the path may not be straight but I’ll get there.
To say those days in Lake Powell aboard our houseboat of 36 years “The Gitzit” were magical could possibly be the grossest understatement I’ve ever made. To bathe you all in some cosmic hippy-speak; my soul was scrubbed by red rock sand, water, laughter and love. I could truly just be. No one died, no one was ill, it was one big sunny calm-water raucous adventure!
I won’t re-tell every magical moment aboard the boat, we’d be here all dang day! But I will tell this, one of those nights on the roof of the Gitzit with everyone snoring softly below and Brett’s even breaths beside me, I woke up in the middle of the night. I could not sleep due to the bright full high moon beaming on my face, it was the night of the blood moon but long after the eclipse nothing was shading the moonlight. At first I was annoyed that I woke up, the temperature could not be more perfect, our bedding was perfect, I should be sleeping dammit! I took some deep breaths, who cares if you’re sleeping or not? What do you have to do tomorrow? I felt the tension leave my body, then I heard my dad cough below. He’s overweight and the epitome of over-indulgence. Statistics related to his physical measurements predict a cardiac event either stroke or heart attack in his near future. It terrifies me. He could live a long active life if he just cut down a bit, er, a lot. My heart knotted in my chest thinking of another death, another loss, especially THAT loss. Before I knew it my jaw was clenched along with every other muscle in my body. I was so worried. How could I make him listen? What would change his paradigm?
Then the moonlight, the constant white blue moonlight, mellow as a kiss on my forehead. I could see it with my eyes closed, feel it with my eyes closed. Bad shit is going to happen if you worry about it, and if you don’t worry, it’ll still happen. Part of life.
I thought of my sweet Birdie Mae and how I wanted her on the trip we’ve been planning for months, how much fun she’d have and how much I missed her. I took some deep breaths and just felt that grief and felt grateful for it. I loved her so much it hurts this bad and I’m so grateful to have loved her. I thought about people who get their hearts broken and never fall in love again. The knots in my heart came undone, and I closed my eyes with the thought: This is the inevitability of life- good and bad- but waxing waning, constant and regular as moonlight.
I’m home now and renewed. I’m 40 and have so many wonderful lights to chase away the inescapable shadows. I could be all rainbows and lollipops and say, 40’s gonna be the year I kick ass and everything amazing happens! But I know there may be bumps and shadows. That’s just how life is. However I’m armed, I have a lot of great tools to help me cope and I’m not as worried about it.
Was it the Lake Powell magic that took me to the fairgrounds recently to a dog adoption event? Maybe. Whatever it was, a dear friend, who lost her dog 2 days before Birdie, and I ended up in a large building full of nervous barking dogs a few days after I got home. It was actually kind of a nightmare for me. I thought about what I’d need to do to get a farm where all these dogs could roam free and be fed. I wanted to take home all the dogs. I was very woo-woo about it on the way there. My friend and I talked how we were not set on getting dogs and we’d just leave it up to the universe. In the building of barking dogs even the universe is on edge. That much nervous scared energy is enough to take the woo-woo right out of you! I wanted to walk out to the car and text my friend “Sorry, too loud, take your time I’m at the car” Then I thought don’t be an asshole, go find your friend. I spotted her down an isle as she saw me she looked at a cage and pointed. In this small cage in the middle of an isle was this face. I felt it go straight to my heart, like damn cupid’s arrow. Before I knew what was happening someone put him in my arms and he hugged me. No fooling, he wrapped his front legs around my neck and started licking my face. I cooed to him said soft things and felt his body relax in my arms. My friend standing by, beaming like an LED headlight, is a dog trainer and holds many certifications including one that assesses rescue dogs. She did some stuff and said, “He’s not crazy, seems loving and smart, not aggressive.” Done and done.
So that’s the news. Death, rebirth and a new dog.
Surrogacy? Things have been paused during this trying time but not on the end of the agency. I imagine them furiously trying to find our match and I must say I’m thankful it was not in the middle of all the mess. No match yet, still working on getting the embryos moved to Chicago (STD testing all negative for both of us) and have printed a mountain of papers I need to go through.
In the meantime this new pup, 3mo old terrier mix, Watson Rae Rocketfire is learning to feel safe and loved and we’ll get him ready to be a really awesome big brother.
Laughter, loves, light, shadows, bumps and bruises; can’t have one without the others.