29 October 2009

A Day's Concerns

Today rated a bit more difficult on the scale. I drove to Saint Paul to chat with Y this morning. I am able talk with her with some degree of comfort, but still feel a bit uneasy. After all, she is not M. The aftermath is oftentimes more difficult as the topics of discussion seem to *soak in* following our time. I felt increasing sadness and despair as the day went on. The anxiety was not to be mitigated, so it seems.

I have been trying desperately to incorporate a *pick-u/clean-up* routine with the kids. My attempts have thus far been unsuccessful. Eamon resists and resists and often makes excuses as to why he is unable to pick up his toys at that particular moment in time. The more toys that carpet the floor, the more frustrated and overwhelmed he becomes. Well, frankly, his mother becomes frustrated and overwhelmed, too. We have such limited space in this house so toys, clothes, papers, bills, books etc, strewn about take up considerable real estate. I think this feeling of having so much clutter and *stuff* will be less of a factor if when ever move. However, we live here now and we need to make the most of the space we have. I see this as putting items away after use and keeping up with the clutter. I am the only one that appears to suffer from anxiety related to the mess, clutter, and lack of space. I want some order. I want cleanliness. I am tired of the chaos. It is driving me crazy!!!

I do not know what to do with Eamon. Yeterday, he told me I was a "bad mommy." Maybe I am, as I am so incredibly frustrated with him at this point. He is so oppositional, so deviant, so insolent at times. He will sometimes refuse to answer my questions. He will yell at me. He will hit me. He will tell benign lies, but lies, nonetheless. He will refuse my requests. At times, he will snuggle with me but usually as a means to an end. He thinks that if he is *nice* to me, then I will allow him extra Wii time. I wonder how I can be firm and strong with him but also loving and nurturing. I understand that he is exploring much that is new...new school, new friends, new schedule, new expectations, new responsibilities. I am trying to be patient and understanding. Instead I feel worn out at times and fixated on the clock. How long until bedtime? How many hours? How many minutes? When will he be asleep? When will I have a chance to decompress and evaluate. When will I have a chance to cry. Alone. I feel as if I am running on reserve fuel. I am getting a bit worn out. I need to figure out how to renew and strengthen myself.

My brother's car was broken into this morning, sometime between 12:00 AM and 6:00 AM. The would be burglars smashed the window and appeared to rifle through the car. They also worked to remove the car stereo, albeit unsuccessfully. The bright side of this is the fact that the car, itself, was not stolen. It is in very good condition for it's age but if stolen, I worry that my brother would not receive much in terms of insurance proceeds, not to mention his need for reliable transportation to work. Once again, this incident causes me increased worry about his neighborhood. He reported that a neighbor had their car stolen, right in front of that neighbor's property. Blue graffitti is displayed on the tall wooden fence surrounding my brother's home. The police are contacted, the incident reported, and occasionally, the paint scrubbed off...well somewhat. Sooner or later, there will be fresh, blue graffiti and the process repeats itself. My brother has reported that he and his housemates are unable to order pizza or Chinese food for delivery. Local businesses have opted out of this option as to eliminate the potential for robbery or assault upon delivery staff. And, the coup de grace, was an incident my brother had purposefully neglected to mention until it was inadvertently mentioned by his friend, N. Apparently, a burglar broke into the house, grabbed the large blanket off of the sofa, and placed thousands of dollars of DVD's on the blanket, only to use said blanket to wrap up the contents, and head back out the window. My brother and his roommate were avid and serious collectors of expansive DVD collections. All gone now. More importantly, my brother was in the house at the time of the robbery. He was in his room! He cannot be safe and sound inside his own place of residence??? Okay, this robbery incident happened a year ago or so. The prostitutes who took up temporarily residence in front of his house (he lives on a corner) were also a concern, more of a burden. The misogynist pigs who solicited them were of concern as well. Oh wait, did I forget to mention this lovely door prize of living in his neighborhood? I worry about him. I worry that he comes home to a parking spot in the back of his house that is somewhat secluded and not particularly well lit. I worry that he cannot be safe in his own home. All of the locks on the doors mean nothing when the window can be broken and used as a point of entry. I wish he did not live there. I wish he could live somewhere that *might* be safer and with a bit less worry. I know he enjoys his roommates and the rent is reasonable. I am worried about his safety.

The day finished with a baby that seemed a bit more sensitive...a bit more clingy. Emma looked tired, with a purplish coloring to her eyelids, which means she is tired or sick or both. She spiked a fever which was quickly brought down by Ibuprofen. as the medication wore off, the fever made a return appearance. I asked Emma is her head hurt to which she replied, "no." She was sniffling a bit and laying her head on the couch pillow. She is now sleeping. I hope she awakes feeling much better. I am a bit anxious, as I always am when my babies are ill. I worry what is wrong with them and how poorly they feel. I feel so sad when my babies are sick and I want so much to help them get well. All of the H1N1 fury has caused me additional worry. She could not be vaccinated with the H1N1 vaccine mist until 28 says post the administration of the seasonal flu mist. I will pray that she will soon feel better. My sweet baby. I do feel bad that she will most likely miss tomorrow's class Halloween party as she was looking forward to wearing her costume to school.

Madeline lies near me as I sit on the couch, imac in lap. I will bring this long post to a close and take the opportunity to have some snuggle time with my cute Liney. I am fortunate to have such a good pup to love, except for her tendency to have offensive gastro-intestinal issues. Though, it is the quiet of the night when the longing intensifies for my sweet Malachy. I continue to work through his passing. He was my sweet, sweet boy. So gentle, So kind, So soothing. I close my eyes and picture myself rubbing him behind the ears and back. Well, those large, soft, warm tears are intensifying. I go to hug my Madeline,


I think 39 years is much too long.

27 October 2009

In The Quiet of The Night

October is nearing it's end. In some respects, the month has gone by quite fast. Though, at times, it seems as if October might never end.

Today, I determined that I really needed to get outside, with the hope that the riding mower would not fail me. I *just* mowed and bagged a plethora of lawn bags, heavy and laden with compacted leaves. The lawn was again carpeted and so I began to get the tractor out and with the objective of filling (at least) ten to fifteen bags. The beautiful, sunny days are waning, desperately holding on for another breath. As I mowed, I waved to the neighbors, pleased that I was wearing my sandals, soon to be forced into hibernation. When I got to the the back forty, I began to lament Malachy's absence. I really enjoyed watching him run around the yard with abandon. He would watch me as I mowed and I would check at which point he was in his roaming of the yard. He bounded about, untethered, and free to run and explore with abandon. I would call him and he would wag his tail and smile, walking toward me as I made another loop. I realized today how much I enjoyed watching him play in the yard while I was mowing, gardening, or hanging out with the kiddos. Okay, maybe I was a bit distracted and thus, this in the reason why I mowed over the large tree trunk in the front yard after a loop in the back. (I think we need a new blade as the mower began to sputter, eventually making the most unpleasant grinding sound). Nevertheless, this mundane fall task again reminded me of the *readjusted normalcy.* I delighted in Mal's company while I worked outside. I delighted even more in watching him be so happy.

So, I finished mowing. Well, the mower *finished*before I had completed the leaf pick-up. I came inside and cleaned up so Eamon and Emma and I could go out for our walk. I noticed the mail had come so went to retrieve it before we went to the trail. I opened up the autopsy/necropsy report from the U of M. There were medical terms that I did not understand, of course. But, I understood *enough* to understand that the cancer had riddled his body. His heart appeared to be the primary source of the tumor. I knew that the cancer had metastasized, but reading the report hit this fact home. I was amazed that this uncontrolled force was almost everywhere within him. I was also amazed that he did so remarkably well, given the seriousness of his illness. I wonder if he felt sick, tired, uncomfortable, or sad as he was not a complainer. Dr. F said he probably did not realize he had cancer until the last day of his life. I sincerely hope she is right. I hold onto her words.

I have looked back at my October posts, realizing that they have not changed in tone from October's beginning to end. I feel like I am working through this grief but become self critical that I am not working through the loss of Malachy as I *should.* Am I mourning his loss for too long a period? Am I perseverating on his absence? Would my grief flow as it has if I were in school, employed, or depression-free? Maybe so. Or, maybe I am working at it as I should. In my own way, as I know how, with all things considered.

The irony is that Malachy brought me much relief from the sometimes all-encompassing despair of depression. He mitigated it's severity. He lessened the anxiety. I now grieve his companionship but also long for his ability to unknowingly comfort.

I find the nights to be the most difficult. The house is quiet and all have gone to bed. Madeline is asleep in the corner for the evening. The nights allowed me to give Malachy undivided attention. I still enjoy my sweet Madeline's snuggling with all of my heart. I am grateful to have my time with her and give her undivided love. Yet, the nights are quieter. Too quiet. Too unsettling.

I have confidence that I will again write posts about all of the joy and silliness the day brings. I know that my life is filled with blessings and good fortune. (KNOCK ON WOOD). I have not lost sight of the wonder. Though, for now, I contemplate the business of grieving.

25 October 2009

The Autumn

The Autumn by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them --
The summer flowers depart --
Sit still -- as all transform'd to stone,
Except your musing heart.

How there you sat in summer-time,
May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
Doth cause a leaf to fall.

Oh! like that wind, is all the mirth
That flesh and dust impart:
We cannot bear its visitings,
When change is on the heart.
Gay words and jests may make us smile,
When Sorrow is asleep;
But other things must make us smile,
When Sorrow bids us weep!

The dearest hands that clasp our hands, --
Their presence may be o'er;
The dearest voice that meets our ear,
That tone may come no more!
Youth fades; and then, the joys of youth,
Which once refresh'd our mind,
Shall come -- as, on those sighing woods,
The chilling autumn wind.

Hear not the wind -- view not the woods;
Look out o'er vale and hill-
In spring, the sky encircled them --
The sky is round them still.
Come autumn's scathe -- come winter's cold --
Come change -- and human fate!
Whatever prospect Heaven doth bound,
Can ne'er be desolate.

Time Does Not Bring Relief

Time does not bring relief

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year's leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year's bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go - so with his memory they brim.
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, 'There is no memory of him here!'
And so stand stricken, so remembering him.

Edna St Vincent Millay (1892 -1950)

The Business of Grieving...Continues

At times, I still cry for you, Malachy. It has been nearly three weeks since you have passed. I continuing to grieve for you. At some point, these posts will not detail how much I miss you or how much I cried for you. Though now, I feel the need to write all of my thoughts, feelings, and fears.

Since you died, I have not slept well...at all. I feel out of sorts right now, a sense of discomfort, that has only worsened. I realize that my depression exacerbates these feelings.

Perhaps tonight will promise a restful slumber. Or, so I hope. Wish me luck. There are times I cry as my head falls upon the pillow. No longer the sobbing, but instead, the large, warm, slow tears that fall upon my cheek.

I find a comfort in my gratitude in all that you were. Your absence is a painful reminder of how much things have changed. I struggle, as my instinct is to fight this *change* with all of my being, But, I know that I must surrender.

I continue to grieve, but with a keen eye to all of the surrounding beauty. I must not lose sight of the blessings, despite my sadness.

I miss you my sweet Shortround.

Madeline Misses Her Brother

Madeline seems a bit down over the past week. Upon Malachy's passing, I was surprised that Madeline's behavior and demeanor did not appear to change at all, given the circumstances. During a conversation with Dr. Ken, I inquired as to the grieving process with dogs. He mentioned that dogs generally eat less or not at all and become more depressed and less energetic for a week or so. He seemed surprised that Madeline was not exhibiting any manifestations of grief or loss.

I wonder if Madeline does indeed miss her brother. They spent almost every moment of the last seven years together.

I do know that I need to continue giving her extra attention, extra hugs, extra kisses, and extra treats for a while. Extra love during this adjustment period might be just what the doctor ordered for everyone.

I feel very grateful that our family continues to have our sweet Madeline with us. She has had chronic uvetis in both eyes, which, in turn, resulted in Glaucoma in both eyes, which, in turn, caused her complete blindness. Madeline also had a bout with a neural sheath tumor in the area where her right eye once was. We remain hopeful that Dr. O removed the entire tumor as there is a risk that it may grow once more requiring additional surgery.

Madeline holds has always held her own. She does not shy away from a challenge. She has not allowed blindness to slow her down, certainly not much to be sure. She has not allowed the cancer to slow her down. She is strong. She is tough. And, we love her.

I pray that we will have many more happy years with our sweet girl. :) We love her with all of our hearts.

24 October 2009

Sleepless Nights

I still miss my sweet Malachy. Since he died, I have been having difficulty sleeping. I still feel out of sorts. I have accepted that he has left us. I am trying to set forth our new normalcy that no longer includes him. So many reminders of him all around.

I found myself sobbing in the bathtub this morning, while the kids were in school. I did not intend to cry, after all. Yet, I thought about how much I missed him. So many tears flowed down my face as I lie in the hot water. So many tears. So many tears.

This sadness was exacerbated by other variables. Malachy is the primary focus of my current grief. However, his passing opens some very painful wounds that have never really healed. Wounds that remain, despite my great desire that they heal.

When I am ready, I will talk about how Malachy's death stirs up the losses in my life. It stirs up so much pain. It stirs up that sense of missing and longing. It reminds me that those I so truly loved, with all of my heart, are gone. Gone forever. Yet, life must tread on. I want it to be a happy life. I need it to be a happy life. I am becoming more and more worn out from the sadness.

The business of grieving continues. I resolve to work through this as long as it takes. This is my only chance to truly heal. Not forget, nor feel the pain any less. I cannot continue my journey until I learn to truly heal from this pain.

23 October 2009

The Process

Some days the missing is more intense. Today is one of those days.

The nights are the hardest. Too much time to think.

22 October 2009


Dad, thank you for saving the oh so cool, Daisy. You gave her the opportunity for a long and wonderful life. Your quick thinking and skill allowed us all many more happy memories with Mama Dog. :)


21 October 2009

The Beauty of Autumn

Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.

Albert Camus

20 October 2009

Emma and Malachy Enjoy a Happy Summer Day (2009)

One of my favorite photos...

Miss Emma and Miss Mama

Sometimes, there are those brief moments when you get this *super-powered* emotional boost. These interjections of the day are truly priceless and alleviate some of the exigency. One of today's favorite moment was courtesy of Emma. I had a bit of a headache and decided to lie down for a few minutes, until the Ibuprofen kicked in. Emma crawled up onto the bed and proclaimed, "Hi Miss Mama." She then put her face close to mine and we looked into each others eyes and both smiled and laughed. She began to give me about ten quick little kisses on the lips and we laughed some more. I am grateful for her silliness, kindness, empathy, and sweetness. I am truly blessed to have such a beautiful daughter. How did I get so lucky?

Emma, I love you with all of my heart, my precious girl. I will always be your "Miss Mama."

A Time to Grieve

I understand that my friends have all of the very of best intentions. My sadness of Malachy's passing is painful. Maybe they see the sadness and anxiety manifesting itself on my face. Maybe they have gotten a quick glance at the beginning of one of those involuntary warm tears, beginning in the corner of my eye (Although I do my best to suck it up in front of others). Maybe they have not had the closeness, the warmth, the friendship a beloved pup can bring.

I intend no disrespect toward my wonderful friends whom I am blessed to have in my life. I am grateful for their concern. But, with respect to their opinions, I just do not want think about getting another pup right now. Malachy can not be replaced. It is unfair to my family at this point in time. It is also unfair to any potential new canine family member.

I must grieve for Malachy before I can be open to the possibility of loving another beloved puppy dog. I understand that may sound counterintuitive to some. But, I must continue in this journey...the business of grieving.

19 October 2009

Who ever told you life was fair?

I am still trying to become accustomed to our family's new *normalcy* since Malachy passed. I am no longer sobbing as I did the day he died. Or, the next day. Or that day after that. The sobbing has been replaced by warm, soft tears flowing down my cheeks.

There are moments when the pragmatism of his passing predominates my thinking. After all, death is part of life. We all experience loss. We all grieve. We all mourn.

I have experienced the passing of many whom I have loved with all of my heart...my parents, my grandparents, my uncle, my cousin, close friends, and dogs, after all.

Shouldn't I be a bit more stoic? Less sentimental? Less emotional? Less sad? Shouldn't all of these losses toughen me up a bit? Or, is it that these losses have caused me to react strongly to loss? I realize that I am *hyper-reactive* to loss. These losses have strengthened me greatly. They have also weakened me greatly.

Why do I grieve so for Malachy? He was not a human being, after all. So, why do I miss him so?

Why? Because. Because, he was my sweet boy. Because I truly loved him. Because, I still do.

Death is part of life and, despite it's wonder and magic, life is sometimes very painful.

I know, I know..I haven't forgotten that all important lesson my Mom would often remind her children, "whoever told you life was fair?"

Don't worry, Mom. I haven't forgotten what you taught me.

No one ever said parenting was easy

Eamon is wearing me down with his oppositionally defiant behavior. Day and night, he pushes and pushes and pushes as hard as he can. I could never have envisioned that a five year old boy would give me such a run for the money.

Is it bedtime yet?

18 October 2009


I miss my sweet pup.

I miss snuggling with him, especially after Eamon and Emma have gone to bed. I miss playing with him. I miss rubbing and scratching him behind his ears. I miss taking walks with him, especially our jaunts to the bus stop to pick up Eamon. I miss holding him. I miss looking into his big, brown eyes. I miss watching him run and play in the yard. I miss playing in the leaves with him on beautiful autumn days. I miss the sound of his nails clicking against the hardwood floor. I miss seeing him in his quiet spot, under the dining room table. I miss watching the kids pet him and hug him.

I catch myself looking for him, for only a brief moment, only to have reality remind me that he is no longer here.

I miss my sweet pup.

Pour l'amour des chiens

Plus je connais les hommes, plus j'aime les chiens.

17 October 2009

The Beauty of Autumn

Bernard, Eamon, Emma, and I decided to get out and about to enjoy the beautiful autumn day. This afternoon, we drove out to Minnetonka Orchards in Mound. Early last week, the kids had walking pneumonia which forced them to rest and lay low for a few days. They easily recovered during this "Mom prescribed" rest time thanks to the power of pharmaceuticals (the Z-Pac). Needless to say, Eamon and Emma were anxious to resume their normal routine. Unfortunately, our plans were thwarted as we experienced a phenomenon that reinforces the belief that weather in the northern midwest is unpredictable and often eschews general expectations of so called *normal* weather patterns. This EARLY OCTOBER unpredictability presented as snow and significantly lower than seasonal average temperatures, The weather was cold, dark, dreary, and cloudy, with a mix and snow and icy rain to complete the picture, Consequently, this put a cramp in our plans to play at the park, go for walks on the trails in the neighborhood, and the most anticipated autumn activity, playing in the multitude of leaves that carpet our yard! We rake as many leaves as we can and create large piles in which to jump, crawl, hide, and roll.

Macintosh, Madeline and Malachy took part in this tradition with equal excitement. Macintosh and Malachy truly enjoyed this activity as much as the kiddos. This fall, I will miss Malachy's presence in our annual family tradition. During our autumn leaves round-up, he would become excited as we raked the leaves in the large pile as soon it would be time to to play! He would run around the yard, energized, as he knew we were going to pile leaves on him and bury him in the large pile. He would wag his tail and smile. He was so happy to play in the leaves. So happy to be outside in the fresh air. So happy to be with his family. He would smile.

I will miss his presence tomorrow as we play in the leaves. It will be much fun playing with the kids and jumping in the pile with them. Madeline mght want to get in on the action, too ! Humans or canines, they will all be buried in leaves only to jump out from under to run across the yard, only to return in a mad dash and leap into the large pile of leaves. We will all have fun. We will all mile. We will all laugh. We will all giggle. Hopefully, Eamon and Emma's mother will remember to take many photos of these outside adventures for posterity's sake. Shortround will not be there to join in the afternoon's escapades. We continue to process through our grief and will miss him as we have for the past two weeks.

Life goes on. The reassessment of normalcy begins, Life has changed and what once was only two weeks ago is no longer. We begin to create our new reality without our sweet pup, We are still grieving his loss as we accept this change and embrace this new normalcy. Life goes on. Because it must.

16 October 2009

The Report

Dr. K. called this morning after receiving the autopsy/necropsy report from the U of M. His conclusion: "Malachy didn't have a chance."

15 October 2009

The Paw Print

Bernard went to the U of M to pick up Malachy's cremains this afternoon. (I really, really, really dislike the word "cremains.") I am grateful that he did so as I was dreading the return trip to the veterinary hospital. The cremains are contained within a maroon velvet pouch.

The veterinary clinic included a sympathy card as well as a letter from the veterinary clinic's staff social worker, offering individual and group support services. This is a free service provided to all clients of the clinic and hospital. I am impressed and grateful that this social work care is available to those who grieve over their animals' illness and/or death.

We also received this clay paw print obtained by the doctor shortly after Malachy passed away. Bernard was a bit surprised that Malachy's paw print was so big, upon looking at the imprint. I looked at the print, reminded of how big his paws were as a puppy, seemingly so out of proportion to his small puppy body.

I hold tightly this happy memory of our sweet Shortround.

14 October 2009

Happy Birthday Brother!

Happy 36th Birthday, 'los!!!

Much can be said about those who demonstrate compassion and kindness


Tonight, I resolve to write and write and write until I become so tired that I am unable to type another key. My hope is that time spent writing will be more constructive than randomly contemplating all of the many thoughts, ideas, and emotions bouncing around in my mind.

I am slowly becoming accustomed to the oh-so-quiet walk to the bus stop to fetch Eamon after school. Malachy always enjoyed the trek down the cul-de-sac to await Eamon's return. I delighted in telling Malachy to look for the bus at which point he would turn his head toward the corner where the bus would turn onto the street toward our stop. As Eamon exited the bus, Malachy would begin to excitedly wag his tail and pull ahead toward Eamon. I noticed that Mal would always seem to have a bit more pep in his step as we returned to the house. After all, one more member of his pack had returned home. :)

I have attempted to *groom* Madeline to be my new "walk to the bus stop" partner. This will take some time. Actually, a considerable amount of time, is a more accurate assessment. No worries that Madeline is not up for the challenge. We have discovered that Madeline is usually up for any and all challenges. However, Madeline tends to be easily distracted even on the short journey to the corner. Actually, Madeline is easily distracted. Period. She desires to stop, drop, and roll around in the street, attaching every scent and substance to her body. I desire to walk. She desires to roll. Once she regains her composure, she invariably determines that the excitement brought on by rolling in the cul-de-sac requires her to jettison unwanted waste. Of course, she only does this on the occasion that I forget to grab the oh-so handy plastic clean up bag. After resuming our walk, Madeline intends to revisit her street rolling ways. I have determined that I need to leave five minutes (or more) earlier when with Madeline due to her apparent attention deficit issues. I won't even go into detail about her incessant barking at Scoutie, the collie, before we reached the corner. This was all in our short trip to the corner. Repeat all of the above, minus barking at the collie, on the walk back home.

The nights have become unsettlingly quiet. The kids are snuggled and sleeping soundly in bed. Bernard is on the couch working at his computer, fervently catching up on all of the programming he was unable to do while in meetings all day. Or, he has fallen asleep on the couch after fervently attempting to catch up on all of the code he had intended to write after spending the days in meetings. Madeline and I enjoy some good quality snuggle time but she invariably determines that it is time for her "late evening nap" to be followed by her "early night nap," (of course). It is at this point that I find myself looking for Malachy in the corner or under the old wooden dining room table. Those are, I should say *were,* his favorite nap spots and I still *expect* to see him there. It is not really an actual expectation but rather a conditioned response, reinforced for seven years. I realize he is no longer in his favorite spot and this reminder triggers the rising tide of anxiety and pain deep within my chest. It is as if a large rock is somehow embedded, almost stuck, deep within. I realize this discomfort is the anxiety of grief. It is natural response. It may even be an expected reaction. I understand the physiological and biopsychological implications of processing grief. Yet, my theoretical understanding does not mitigate these moments of intensity...the moments of profound sadness.

This afternoon, a representative of the U of M veterinary clinic called. The woman immediately asked how to pronounce my name, As I was responding to this initial question, she informed me that there was a balance due on Malachy's account. We had just received the bill a few days ago and informed her that I was aware of the balance due. In fact, I had written the check out at 1:00 am this morning.. I decided I would pay the bill when I went to retrieve Malachy's remains which, I was told, would be available this week. The woman informed me that Malachy's remains were indeed available but that I would not be able to retrieve them until I paid the balance in full. I assured her that this would not be an issue, in the least, and that I would be glad to pay the bill tomorrow when I was at the clinic to *retrieve* him. She reminded me again of the balance and informed me that the remains were locked within the accounts receivable office. Again, she told me that I would not be able to claim him, only and until I paid the bill in full. I reassured her that I had already prepared the payment and would be happy to pay it tomorrow as Malachy's remains are now available. She interjected that she needed to "let me (sic: you) go" but that I must submit payment by mail immediately. Was I unclear? I told her again that I would be at the clinic tomorrow and would indeed pay up, no need to mail the bill if I intend to deliver it in person tomorrow. Why would I delay retrieving Malachy by making the payment by mail when I could simply pay in person tomorrow? S he repeated her speech for the umpteenth time before ending the call, almost admonishing me for not paying the bill the very day I received it. Her last words reiterated that I would not have access to Malachy's remains and they were locked up in the payment office.

Okay. I get it..pay up or you are not getting your dead dog, lady.

Okay, I know I should have quit while I was ahead. I got caught off guard. I was surprised and incredulous at her lack of compassion...her lack of kindness...her lack of respect. Perhaps, she did not have a sense that I understood that the bill must be paid. Or, perhaps, she worried that I had no intention to pay. Perhaps, she hears excuses from people as to why they might not be able to pay or that they have already sent payment and it is "in the mail." Perhaps, she simply lacked the ability to be respectful.

This person does not know me. She does not realize or care that I have never made it a practice to ditch out on my bills. Maybe I sounded as if I lacked intelligence and so she felt the need to talk loudly, slowly, and repeat her message numerous times. Apparently, at the end of a workday it is acceptable to be a bit rude...a bit condescending...a bit disrespectful. Maybe she has found that reminding grieving dog and cat owners that they will not be able to receive their pet's remains unless they cough up the cash is an effective collection method.

Okay. I go back to the fact that I should have cut her off at the pass. I knew the conversation was circular and foolish. All I could think about was that Malachy was cremated. He was locked up in a file cabinet in the accounts receivable office. He is no longer my my sweet and happy pup. He is now collateral.

I have accepted that he is gone. Yet, I felt like I was reminded of this newfound reality by having a bag of bricks dropped on my head. Maybe I just need to suck it up. Toughen up. Be less sensitive. Maybe it all feels so raw right now.

I think much can be said about those who demonstrate compassion and kindness. Much can also be said about those who lack these qualities.

The Rainbow Bridge

Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...

13 October 2009

Questions and Answers

After Malachy passed, I contacted Dr. K., his primary veterinarian to inform that Malachy had suddenly fallen so ill which, in turn, forced us to make that most difficult of decisions. I informed Dr. K. that the U of M emergency room veterinarian had hypothesized that Malachy had either Lymphoma or Blastomycosis. I discussed with Dr. K. the ER vet's diagnostic possibilities which brought to mind a recent patient of his who succumbed to Blasto. This particular dog (a collie) had been exposed to mulch that was used in a yard improvement project. The collie inhaled the Blasto fungal spores unknowingly embedded deep within the mulch. The deadly spores invariably took up residence within the collie's lungs causing irreparable damage. Dr. K. suggested an autopsy/necropsy for Malachy in consideration of the fact that Bernard and I recently placed large quantities of mulch around our house.

I immediately contacted the U of M Center for Veterinary Medicine, hoping that Malachy's body was still at the hospital. I requested a necropsy, somewhat (okay, significantly more than "somewhat") panicked that there was a possibility that all of the mulch we installed caused Malachy's death. Worse yet, could the mulch be a health hazard to Eamon and Emma, Bernard and me, Malachy's sister, Madeline, the neighbors? Were we inhaling these Blasto spores every time we walked out into the yard??? We were all at risk of serious health concerns? I was so fearful of my children's safety.

I researched everything I could about Blastomycosis. I learned that the odds were low that Malachy had succumbed to this fungal disease but began planning to remove all ten yards of the mulch. Did we unknowingly cause our sweet boy to become ill? Was Madeline going to succumb to this disease as well? The potential for serious illness in considerably less serious in humans but I began to look for signs that Eamon and Emma might become ill. The fact that they developed coughs that progressed in severity (oddly enough) shortly after Malachy passed caused me additional concern and worry. Their coughs required a visit to the pediatrician's office. The nurse practitioner quickly diagnosed them, not with Blasto, but with easily treatable type of walking pneumonia. (Antibiotics quickly resolved their coughing issue and they were back to good form in a day, very thankfully). After a conversation from Dr. F, the U of M internal medicine veterinarian, I realized all we could now was to wait for the results of the necropsy. Dr. F. strongly suspected that the final verdict would come down as Lymphoma but a definitive diagnosis could not be made until the pathologist had thoroughly examined Malachy's body. So, we could only continue in our grieving process while anxiously awaiting the pathologist's findings.

Today, Dr. F. called to inform of the preliminary autopsy report. Malachy did not have Blastomycosis, which brings much relief that our newly installed mulch did not cause his illness. He did not have a brain tumor, nor mennigitis, nor Lymphoma, all very grounded hypotheses based on his symtomology. Instead, he had cancer of the blood vessels, more formally known as Hemangiosarcoma. This type of cancer is particularly aggressive, highly malignant, and cruelly insidious. Dr. F. informed that Hemangiosarcoma does not generally respond to chemotherapy, spreads quickly, and is generally fatal. Dr. F. said that dogs do not feel the actual cancer cells' growth, but instead, the indirect consequences such as the eventual damage to organ systems. She reiterated her surprise that he had no clinical symptoms during exam only two days before he passed away. During her exam, she noted that he was active, happy, engaged, and did not appear to be in any pain at all... in other words, he was clinically doing well. She did not anticipate that he would become so ill so soon after his visit. None of us did. There was nothing we could have done to save him. The cancer would have continued mercilessly regardless of any medications and treatments.

I feel conflicting emotions about these results. I am relieved beyond measure that Malachy did not have Blasto and thus, our family is not at risk. I feel a sense of calm with these results in hand, as it allows a chapter in my so called "book of grieving" to be written. There are so many components to this *book* and this new chapter allows a measure of peace.

I am grateful that we did not inadvertently cause Malachy to become so sick. I am grateful that he did not suffer throughout the progression of the disease process until the very, very last hours of his life. I am grateful that we had 24 more days to love him after the beginning of this journey as we initially did not know if he would live through that weekend. I am grateful that the Prednisone reduced the swelling caused by the cancer, allowing Malachy to temporarily return to his usual self. I am grateful that we were able to give him extra kisses, extra hugs, extra snuggling, extra playtime, and extra treats. We were given the opportunity to show him that he was truly loved and adored by us all. Most of all, I am grateful that our family had the opportunity to hang out with one truly cool puppy dog for seven years. It is not the quantity of the years but the quality of those years that only really matter after all is said and done.

Dr. F. told me upon our first visit that veterinarians often refer to golden retrievers as the "heartbreakers." They have wonderful personalities...so gentle, so happy, so sweet. The aspect of goldens that breaks one's heart is their high rate of heritable predispositions. They tend to become ill. They die. They break your heart.

I miss my Shortround terribly. I feel the deep heartache. Yet, I do not regret this intense "affliction" of dog love that I have been so fortunate to experience. Isn't it better to feel the intense joys of life with all of the inherent risks than to not have ventured into the possible wonder that awaits?

10 October 2009

The Business of Grieving

Still the pain of missing you endures as does my journey of bitter grief. It is so quiet, so empty, so disquieting since you have gone. I will continue to process through this as I know I need to move through it, as painful as it is. My grief feels at times, all consuming, as it stands to reason that my chronic depression exacerbates this raw wound.

Pain is real. Love is real. Bonds are real. What to do when the one you love is no longer?

You were more than a *dog* to me. You were a friend. You were the one I could hold so tight, in the quiet of the night, as the anxiety and fear slowly drained from my body. You were the one I could snuggle in those deeply dark moments in the hopelessness and despair of my depression. You propped me up. You gave me unconditional love. You could not realize how much your *being* made all of the difference in the world to me...to all of us.

I can only hope that I, too, brought you joy and happiness. I hope you knew you were deeply loved, beyond measure. Your smile was infectous. You were smart, intuitive, loving, and gentle. You were the answer to my prayers. I could not have dreamed of a better pup.

I know you are at peace, Malachy. I envision you in Heaven, running with Macintosh and Daisy in lush fields, sun overhead, and beauty all around. I know you are again joyful in your freedom from this disease that came upon you so quickly...so mercilessly.

I will continue to cry and cry and cry until the tears run dry. I will again smile and laugh when I think of you. I know that day will come but for now, I must commit to the business of grieving.

07 October 2009

My Dear Shortround

Lend Me A Pup

I will lend to you for awhile
a puppy, God said
For you to love him while he lives
and to mourn for him when he is gone.

Maybe for twelve or fourteen years,
or maybe for two or three
But will you, till I call him back
take care of him for me?

He'll bring his charms to gladden you
and (should his stay be brief)
you'll always have his memories
as solace for your grief.

I cannot promise that he will stay,
since all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught below
I want this pup to learn.

I've looked the whole world over
in search of teachers true
And from the folk that crowd life's land
I have chosen you.

Now will you give him all your love
Nor think the labour vain
Nor hate me when I come to take my pup back again.

I fancied that I heard them say
"Dear Lord Thy Will Be Done,"
For all the joys this pup will bring,
the risk of grief you'll run.
Will you shelter him with tenderness
Will you love him while you may
And for the happiness you'll know forever grateful stay.

But should I call him back
much sooner than you've planned
Please brave the bitter grief that comes
and try to understand.
If, by your love, you've managed
my wishes to achieve,
In memory of him that you've loved
cherish every moment with your faithful bundle,
and know he loved you too.

Author Unknown

06 October 2009

My Sweet Malachy

In Our Heart

We thought of you with love today, but that is nothing new.
We thought about you yesterday, and days before that too.
We think of you in silence. We often speak your name.
Now all we have is memories, and your picture in a frame.
Your memory is our keepsake, with which we’ll never part.
God has you in his keeping.
We have you in our heart.

In Loving Memory of Malachy
09 July 2002 - 04 October 2009
Good-bye my sweet Malachy. We will love and cherish you always. I miss you so.