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Goodbye dear friend

February 23, 2010 10 comments

Baxter when we first brought him home

This month our little family faced yet another deep and difficult loss. Our precious dog, Baxter, passed away on February 18, 2010 at about 1:00 am. Words can’t explain the bond we felt with Baxter “BB”. He came into our life unexpectedly in June 2004. He had been abandoned by his owner and was being kept at my cousin’s house. They didn’t really have space for him and so we offered to bring him home. From that moment on, he was our first baby. I had never known immediate love before. I didn’t realize that it was even possible with anything other than your own children. But we did. We loved him deeply from the moment he came home. I remember he wandered off that first night and I was in tears. I was crying over a dog I had only known for about 5 hours. That was how instant it was. We got him home, cleaned him up, removed ticks, and fed him. We spent hours snuggled up with him. He was so sweet and easy to love. He burrowed his way into your heart and you just couldn’t let him go. He made an impact on everyone he met. I don’t know many dogs that have their own theme song, but our BB did.

Baxter the week we lost him

Baxter during the last week with us

We made it our mission to give him all he had missed in life and to make up for the pain he had suffered. He went with us hiking, canoeing, camping, traveling, shopping at Lowe’s, boating, and visiting family and friends. He LOVED to get dressed. He would prance around so proud. I think it was all the attention he received. He wandered off quite often… he loved to catch a scent, but always came home to us.

Baxter gave an immense amount of love and companionship. We joked that he was an equal opportunity lover. There will never be a dog like him. He was the best gift we could have hoped for. Several years ago, at a routine checkup we discovered he had a heart murmur. Over the next 4 years it progressed until the last year when it was as bad as it could get and he began coughing. The coughing turned to hacking and then to a distressed breathing. It was heartbreaking to watch our best friend deteriorate, especially when his mind and spirit were so strong and sharp. We don’t know for sure how old he was when we got him, but the vet guessed 5. So, he would be almost 11. Until the end he seemed so much younger than that. On the evening of the 17th we knew it had gotten bad. He had already had 2 bad days and a bad night and was now stressing to breath constantly. We called our vet at midnight and told her that this was it. We were not sure that he would make it through the night and we didn’t want him to go into distress. We knew it was coming, since she had told us a week ago that it was really up to us at this point as to when would be best, but we just didn’t expect it so soon. But we knew this was it. We met her at the office and spent an hour crying, sharing stories of him with her, snuggling with him and finally, saying goodbye. His weak heart only had 5 beats left in it and he was so peaceful. And in that moment our hearts were shattered.

Never would we replace Baxter. This was a truly special dog that had a place in our heart that will never belong to another. We cried and cried. On Friday, we brought home his ashes and felt some peace knowing he was home. More times than I count I would expect him to be there. Split seconds of forgetting he was gone. His loss has been unmeasurable.

So, a few days later, yesterday in fact, we did something we never thought we could or would do. We rescued another dog. Yes, less than a week later, we have invited a young puppy into our home and our family. We NEVER thought we would find ourselves here. We had wanted another dog many times, but always decided not to because Baxter needed to be an only dog. We were happy to make that sacrifice for him and his happiness. When the end of his life was nearing, we were in agreement that it would probably be a long time before we got another dog. Yet, here we are. How did we get here? How did we come to this decision for our family when we always felt it would only be proper and necessary to wait for a while after losing a pet?

Anyone that has lost someone very close to them will tell you that each day without them in the beginning feels like an eternity. And that has been so true. We have tried to just be open with our emotions. The first few days we cried as we shared stories and memories. We cried as we looked at his picture. But we started to realize something. We realized that we will be mourning him for a very long time. We realized that no dog will ever replace him. He has a place in our heart that will always belong to him. We realized that loving another animal doesn’t diminish him, doesn’t take away from him, but to us it honors him. It is a way to pay it forward. He gave us so much, we want to give to another dog.

We also realized how many dogs there are without homes that love them and commit to keeping them happy, healthy, and safe. It was heartbreaking. We realized that not everyone can rescue, but we can. So many insist on pure breeds for a number of reasons; always had a certain breed, wanting to “know what they are getting”, etc. But that isn’t true for us. When we started seeing this and realized this, it suddenly didn’t make sense any more for us to not give a dog a home as soon as we could. We will be mourning regardless, why not be loving and supporting a dog who needs us too? When someone has two dogs and one passes, they don’t stop loving the other dog. They mourn and learn and grow. There is enough love to go around. And that is what we learned. We are only limited by ourselves. We are capable of mourning and missing Baxter and wishing he were still with us at the same time that we learn about and love a new member of our family.

We never imagined ourselves here, but yet here we are. I am processing the loss of Baxter and remembering all the joy he brought, while Reagan is sleeping next to me. I think Baxter would be proud. He would be happy to know another dog has a chance at a home that will give him anything and take the time for him. And Baxter will always know his place in our hearts, we are confident that we did a wonderful job of loving him during his time with us.

Reagan on the way home

So, here is the new member of our family. Reagan Gold. He is a four month old Schnauzer, Yorkshire, Beagle mix. His mommy got pregnant unexpectedly and the owners surrendered the 3 pups. He was the last to go and we knew the moment we met him that he was meant to be a part of our family. Aaron is still sleeping with Baxter’s collar in his hands. I still cried as I wrote about Baxter. Our family has a lot of healing to do still. But we have also laughed and smiled many more times in the last two days. We have something positive to focus on if we feel stuck. And with all of the loss we have faced this year, Reagan is a gift for which we can’t even begin to say thank you enough.

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The “D” Word

January 20, 2010 32 comments

The other night I took a step… a BIG step.  I said it out loud, I admitted it to myself and those around me.  After talking for a while with my mom and A, I had headed to bed.  I got on twitter again finally, after spending very little time on it in the last weeks, and I posted this:

just when i felt I had life in control… today it crumbles again. I am saying this for the first time to others… I am depressed

For some that might not be hard to say.  For me, it is.  I have always been the bubbly one, the goofy one, the HAPPY one.  I am the friend that is good for a laugh and a good time.  I am the one to cheer up others and be there for them.  And I feel like I have lost that part of me.  Each day is spent trying to survive, to find some bit of me inside, to deal with what life is handing me.  Emotionally, I am spent, I am exhausted, and I am lost.

When I started this blog, I didn’t plan for it to be so somber.  So, please, hang with me while I work through this.  I am on a journey and, unfortunately, the starting line isn’t quite where I thought it was.

I lead a very blessed life, I know that.  Especially when I see what is happening elsewhere in the world right now, the pain, the suffering, I am reminded even more.  But that is the thing with depression.  It isn’t about not appreciating what you have.  It isn’t about not being thankful.  I keep having to remind myself of that when I get angry because I can’t just “get over it” or “move on”.

Our Little Girl, Sydney

Our Little Girl

So, where did I lose myself?  When did the sadness overtake me?  Maybe it was lingering there for a while.  Maybe it was just at the edge of my mind.  But the day I lost my little girl, it took over.  Since the day of that ultrasound, I have tried to be myself, tried to heal.  But I can’t.  Nothing carries the significance it did before.  Nothing brings the same joy or laughter.  Nothing is as rewarding or fun.  God, am I really saying that?  I am blessed with a beautiful and healthy boy, but I am incomplete?  But I am.  I feel it every day.  I feel that void and can’t ignore it any longer.  The void weighs me down and makes everything more difficult.

At work, I have taken huge professional hits.  Of course all of this comes at a time I am being asked to grow and mature professionally.  How can someone do that when they are in survival mode?  How is it possible to grow when you are barely living?  These hits and stress add to the pain and the hurt.  They compound the already humbling realization that I can not handle the life before me.  And I cry.  At the office.  I weep because I can’t do it, I am less than I was and I am angry.

Last weekend A and I went to an event for his work.  It was just after one of these professional hits.  I felt broken in so many ways.  I felt as if I didn’t know myself any longer.  Although I know nearly all the people that would be there and enjoy them all, I had a lump in my throat.  And then it happened.  Just before we exit the car.  We end up talking about me, how he wants to help me.  How he wants to fix it.  FIX IT?  You mean, FIX ME!?  I have known I am broken but it tore me apart to think he may think I am a broken person too.  He explains that he just wants me to be happy.  Well, I am just so fucking sorry that I can’t be little miss sunshine for you!  And then I weep.  I cry because I know his desire for my happiness isn’t for him, but for me.  I know this, but what he says burns.  He tells me that he is worried that my being so concerned with getting pregnant is what is causing me to be so unhappy.  This just enrages me again!  I can’t tell you why.  I can’t explain why the idea of someone making me out to be a woman who desperately wants a baby infuriates me, but it does!  IT DOES!  Maybe it is because I am not supposed to be having to worry about this.  I am supposed to be finalizing my little girl’s nursery and planning for her to be born exactly one month from today.  I yell at him that I am depressed because I had it and lost it!  And I cry.  We talk for a while longer.  I know how much he loves me and just wants me to be happy.  Yes, happy… for me.  I wipe my tears, we enter the room and we say hello to his business partner and his newly pregnant wife.

Today I sat in the office of my OBGYN for my annual visit.  I cried.  I cried as she looked at me knowing the last time she saw me, the first time she met me, was as she told me my options for handling the baby that had died inside me.  I cried as I said the words. out loud. the “D” word.  As I told her about the last year.  I cried.  And then a few hours later I sat in the office of our Reproductive Endocrinologist.  A and he had fun teasing me about my assertion that I don’t want “him to get us pregnant”.  We all chuckled as I couldn’t quite explain myself.  We talked about options and then I cried again.  As I tried to form the words to explain that I can’t say I want another baby badly because to do so makes it real.  And then I have to deal with the fears.  The fear of loss again and that leading to more surgery and pain and procedures.  The fear of not being able to conceive on our own.  The fear of everything.  I cry as I try to explain this.

And then, tonight, I sit here and I cry.  February 19, one month from today.  It was supposed to be my dream come true.  I feel robbed of my story.  How perfect it was with a surprise pregnancy, the perfect results of the blood work and the perfect ultrasound!  My smile was so big and I was walking on clouds.  I felt so blessed and so honored to have had another baby pick me to be its mother.  And as quickly as she came into my life she was gone.  From perfect to gone.  And with her went my joy.  And with her went my heart.  And with her went a piece of me that I have not been able to heal.

So, yes, I am depressed.  It is destroying me.  It is wrecking havoc on my life.  I am a shadow of who I once was.  I am not a good friend right now.  I cry.  I yell.  I DO want a baby.  I feel robbed and cheated and angry.  Maybe for some this isn’t a big deal, but for me it is.  For me, my world is broken and I have no idea how to stop the flow of heartache.

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