Archive for category Personal Reflections
I have loved dogs my entire life. There was Quinnie, and Bones, Whiskey, Wendy, and Katie. I grew up with them, always aware of how having them in my life made me somehow one of the lucky ones, missing their presence once it was gone.
But Alice is another story altogether. My shaggy Scottie. My stubborn Scottie. My Scottish Terrier Warrior Princess. She is the first dog to whom I felt an incredible attachment, a connection of souls. We invited her home in 2010. A 12-week-old, gangly puppy whose head was the same size as her body, whose tongue would drag on the sidewalk because she hadn’t grown into it yet. Stubborn and funny and smart. I loved her quirky personality, her fierce independence. I was smitten.
There’s no real way to explain the way I feel about her. Just like there is no real way to explain how deeply I feel about my children, or my parents, or my husband. Love just is, sometimes, and when you feel it that’s all that really matters.
My girl has had a hell of a year. Starting somewhere around end of August 2018 she started limping, acting like her rear leg was painful. We took her to her doc and he diagnosed a CCL injury (just like an ACL tear in a human’s knee). We consulted with amazing specialists and opted for a surgical repair. She came through surgery like a boss. We got her a playpen to sleep in, and for confining her when we worked. She wore her cone, and took her meds, and handled physical therapy, and allowed us to carry her everywhere for 12 weeks. She was the perfect patient. She healed, and her spirit was fierce as always.
I was leaving on a research trip May 21st and would be gone a week. The night before I left, a freak storm rolled in that dumped 8 inches of heavy, wet snow. I was running errands with my husband until 6 or 7 that evening, and I was pissed that the storm had to hit then. I worried about driving the hour north to the airport in the morning. We got home and the dogs (Alice has a brother: Buck) went out as usual. My son noticed something odd about Alice’s urine: it looked bloody. I thought it might be a shadow on the snow, but went out with a flashlight. Sure enough it was pure blood.
I asked my husband to please take her in to the vet the next day. I was worried she had a UTI and wanted her to get looked at immediately. He called his work and arranged to make it happen and updated me by text as I sat in the airport waiting to board my flight. She got antibiotics, and a recheck appointment for when I got home if she didn’t improve.
She didn’t improve. The day after I got back my husband and I sat watching Alice’s amazing doc as he showed us on ultrasound a mass in her bladder. Without any preamble he scheduled her for surgery the next morning. I thanked god for that snowstorm.
My sweet girl had surgery. Her doc is incredible. A truly skilled surgeon, and a compassionate doctor, who did an amazing job removing her tumor. We sent it off. Then we waited. Alice again slept in her playpen at night, did not have to have the cone as she couldn’t reach her surgery site to lick, allowed us to carry her to go outside. She is a super patient, with super patience.
A week into her healing, doc called with the results of the histopathology. My sweet girl’s mass was cancer.
I was gut punched. I went into clinical mode (I was an emergency veterinary technician in the past) asking questions, making notes, but all the while I was numb.
I had the doc on speakerphone so my husband could hear. He was pale.
Today my girl had her sutures out. We have a script for a drug that can help with tumor suppression, and cancer management. We are still considering all our options of treatment. I’m still gut punched, I’m still numb, and at times I find myself overwhelmed with grief. Then I look at her beautiful, graying face, with her bright and shining eyes and my heart leaps at the time we’ve had and the time we’ll have.
One thing is for certain: Alice will live her best life for the rest of whatever time she has left.
I can’t think of the future yet. I can only think of today. Tomorrow I will think of today.
If you see more pictures of Alice, or more stories of Alice coming from me, this is why. I’ve taken pictures of her and written funny things about her antics her entire life. But now, I am marking that existence, her mark on me to celebrate our days together.
This is my love letter to Alice.
I can’t really pin down a single memory that is a favorite from my lifetime shared with my Uncle Johnny because they’re all my favorite. UJ had a way of making the mundane fun, of creating play from chore, and laughing all the while. Sweeping his shop, or getting water from the well at the cabin, or doing dishes, these were never boring when doing them for him. He teased us lovingly. He gave advice unflinchingly. He loved us unconditionally. UJ was beloved, not because he was a saintly person, but because he was intensely human. UJ lived every day fully. He died yesterday just nineteen days shy of his 91st birthday.
He was many things to many people. To me he was always my cheerleader. He was proud of me, and I know that because he told me it was so. UJ loved so many. And so many loved him back. I’m a better person for his love, and I will miss him.
God speed UJ.
Today words are ugly
and poems that use
Trying for some transcendent
place by being
and spewing the “ripples on the pond”
Why not a poem filled
with ugly words?
dust or cancer or
Even these are too
and it’s not enough
to just be angry
or hurt or
Words don’t always
have to inspire
or lift up
Poems don’t always
have to lilt
I want this one
and get hurt
I’m still writing about historical subjects, but blogging about them has taken a back seat to…life.
This isn’t an excuse, just a fact that is inescapable.
I made a self-promise that I would be more disciplined, and write monthly to get back in the game.
Yet I’m not ready to put history to paper today. Instead, I wrote a non-history something. And rather than put it somewhere else (like the depths of my recycle bin) I’m publishing it on my blog.
A poem if you will (or won’t). A loose consciousness of the will to write.
On writing after the absence of one year:
Being in a delusional amount of pain
The distance of thought and the wanting it to be so good
Streams of tension in my neck cry out for relief
The bang of the shutter so infrequent that I forget it will bang
It is quiet but there are sounds all around me
I am alone but not lonely
The ball of fuzz in the back of my mind
The weight of the task on each eyelid
Indecision numbs my legs
Constrictions in my chest are more the bra than fear
But the fear is there
Conscious of my task now I’m pushing it to be good
Trying to be witty
Wanting it to be good
This is what I hate
And what I love about writing
Love it or don’t. I wrote.