November 29, 2012

What You Believe

This morning, I was sleeping on the couch and I had a dream. Well, it was like a dream but not like a dream. In my dream, I was sitting on the couch and Daisy was right next to me, her head turned toward me like she did when she came to see me. I was afraid to touch her at first, thinking she may be rigid or bloody, but then I wrapped my arm around her back, rubbed her neck, and kissed her on the head. Then she was gone. I remember noticing how warm she was when I touched her and feeling like she had come to see me, only to say hi. A simple, unassuming visit.
I only had a dream like this one other time. About a year ago, I was sleeping in the recliner with Noah in my arms. In the dream, Sebastien was on the other side of my lap, playing contently.  It was the very same type of thing.  He just came to visit, as if it was the most normal thing in the world to do. The strange thing is he looked the age he would have been if he had lived. Not the baby I left at the hospital who had died.

I can't say for sure if their spirits came to visit me. I would like to think so. I would like to believe we are not totally disconnected from those we have lost. But at the same time it is hard. I believe in God. I think I believe that spirits are among us. But there is always that skeptical person inside of me which needs some kind of proof.

I was really excited to see Daisy, whether or not it was true, it was as if I got to see her one last time. But it was also very sad. Seeing someone you've lost in a dream just makes you realize how badly you miss them. To me, those two dreams about Sebastien and Daisy are an amazing gift. It gives a small resolution, a last goodbye when in reality, we will never get one.

I hope heaven exists. I hope all of our pets are there despite the argument by some who say they do not have souls. I hope the millions of babies who have died after they were born or while they were in the womb are there despite those who say fetuses do not have souls. I hope Protestants and Catholics, Jews and Muslims are there and are finally at peace, despite their arguments over religion and who they think God deemed as the "right" religion. I hope gay people are there because homosexuality isn't a choice and it is only by ignorance that people think it is a lifestyle someone would actually choose. I hope murderers and the like who have truly redeemed themselves have a chance to be forgiven and receive the Grace of God.  To me, heaven is a place where everything living on Earth which is inherently good should have a chance to reside.

I hope with all my heart, I will get to see all of those I've lost one day and you will, too.

November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving and All That Jazz

This year, my husband and I are making the grand dame of the Thanksgiving meal for the extended family of 20 some people - the turkey. Am I nervous? Yes. Should I be? Probably not.

It is amazing how the countdown to Thanksgiving can send you in a tailspin if you are making most of the food, especially a 16-22 pound ball of meat which can go very wrong at any point. Nobody wants a dry turkey. Undercooked, it will be the death of you. The turkey is always the center point of the magnificent feast.

I started out a couple of weeks ago searching Food Network,, and various other food websites and cookbooks to try and find the top rated turkey recipe. You see, I love to cook. I love to try new recipes. But when it comes to making a turkey and serve it to 20 some people, the thing that worries me the most is will it turn out well, taste relatively good, and how to make sure the stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and the big ol' turkey are done at the exact same time and it all turns out looking like it could be on the set of Leave It to Beaver. (Although, I'm sure some of that food was plastic.)

I decided to use Alton Brown's turkey recipe. It is the number one rated recipe on Food Network, over 4000 people have tried it. You know when my husband comes home and tells me even his coworkers have used this recipe, it must be pretty popular. We are going to have our Thanksgiving on Saturday because most people have in-law houses to go to on Thursday. So we'll see if it turns out.

And really, is the food supposed to be the highlight of the day? What Thanksgiving is really about is giving thanks, not an annual feast where you wonder if you should have eaten that second helping of stuffing because now you have to unbutton your pants or go sit down to let the carbs wear off. It's about doing what you love to do with family around: watching a football game, seeing a blockbuster at the movie theater (I'm going to see Life of Pi), spending time catching up with your childrens' lives, sleeping a few more extra hours - stuff we seldom have time to do when we are running the rat race to get everything done in our normal lives.

So, here are my two Thanksgiving wishes for you. One. Spend time on yourself, doing what you love to do. Relax. Enjoy the day. If that means for a mom to get to sit down and raise up her feet, do so. If for dad's, it means watching ESPN sports or sleeping in the middle of the afternoon, do so. If for children, it means having fun and getting away from school to watch a good movie, play a video game, or chat with hometown friends, do so. Spend time doing something you love.

Second wish. Be thankful for what happened to you this year. We are surrounded by many blessings, most we do not realize. My friend was in a horrible accident, he walked away fine. My dad broke a bone in his leg, but is recovering well. Our dog died and I screwed up taking her to the vet. But several times before in her life, good fortune was on our side. She turned out okay. When she sliced her leg and we got her to the vet in time, when she swallowed throat lounges and it wasn't poisonous, when she got out from underneath the fence and always showed up on the front porch waiting to be let in, not lost. All of us are surrounded by great blessings in our lives which are interwoven with hardships. And although it is difficult to remember this (believe me, I know) we have to hold on to those positives, those good fortunes we have had, when bad things have happened this year. There is always a parallel good scenario to a bad situation. Be thankful for the good.

I will try and remember my words when I am full of anxiety with that turkey on Saturday. Because really, it is a turkey! It is all about perspective. And now, I will bid you farewell. My daughter is waiting for me to play Barbies with her. I think she said we are going to play Fashion Show. (She has one Ken doll with a missing leg which I know I'll have to get stuck with. How do you have a one legged Ken model pants in a fashion show.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 17, 2012

And So It Goes

So to live large and feel a little cozy, I decided to buy a small gingerbread shake at Burger King on the way to get Olivia at school. I love the holidays and what better way to think of Christmas and feel a little comforted (after Daisy) than a gingerbread shake. (We women drown our sorrows in either food, fashion, or tabloid gossip.)

Anyway, I pick our 6 year-old up from school and ask her if she would like some. "You have never had gingerbread before, have you? I'm not sure you'll like it."  "No," she said. "But I'll taste it." We get home and I realize she never gave me back the shake. She hands me an empty cup and says, "Well, I can definitely say I like gingerbread."

Thanks! I guess she will get the warm and fuzzy feeling of Christmas and I'll get . . . a cup of orange juice inside. Drats.

November 14, 2012

Life Goes On: Especially When You Have Children

I thought I would change the mood for the time being. It has been a hard week but our other dog, Emmy, has been receiving the royal treatment. Every day I walk her, brush her, give her a treat, let her sit on my lap (she's a 45 pound lab, not easy), let her sleep on the bed (her favorite), take her in the car when we go out and we bought her a big bone and a squeaky toy. She deserves it though. The day after Daisy died, Emmy wouldn't go outside. The day after that, she went to the bottom of the steps, looked around, appeared very lost and came back inside. It has been hard on her. They both got their confidence by being together. A team. When they raided the waste basket, when they barked at the mailman, when they tried to be the one in front when they went on a walk - it was together. I told Emmy we are going to help each other get over this and I really think by doing all of these activities (for her) we will cheer each other up.

As for children, life goes on. My 6 year-old daughter, Olivia, volunteered to empty the dishwasher. I was so excited. Less work and she volunteered! I came into the kitchen and all of the cups, glasses, and bowls were stuffed into one shelf: upside down, sideways and every which way. It made me laugh which is good because it's been so sad around here.

We also watched the movie, The Diary of Anne Frank last week. We had gone to The Children's Museum in Indianapolis and they had a display about her so she knew a little about it. I told her about Hitler, the war, the Nazi's, the Jewish people and those against him. Olivia said, "Why did he want so much?"

Anyway, she was interested in watching the movie since it was on and I thought it would be okay because she's pretty mature for a 6 year-old. Well, she did well with the movie (understanding the meaning) until we got into the car to go and see her friend and her friend's mother. (Her friend's mom is from Germany.)  "Doesn't (insert name)'s mother speak German?" "Yes," I said. I knew something was coming. "So is she related to Hitler?"  Oh man. "Um, no. And by the way, please don't ask her that." 

Later, I explained not all German people are bad. (My ancestry is German.) Bad people are in every race, every country, men and women. I think she understood. But here's the thing: The biggest and most talked about topic after the movie for her was how "icky" it was when Anne and Peter kissed each other.

Oh well. I think she's going to be a great adult human being when she grows up. I have tried to teach her about being kind, caring, respectful, safe, and helpful. As we should teach all children to be.

November 8, 2012

The Day After

As I mentioned in my last posting our dog, Daisy, died this week. Today we received an autopsy report emailed to my husband's account from Purdue University. Puncture wounds. My husband said, "Puncture wounds!" He then looked further, it was for a 6 year-old male dog. "What?" And then he looked at the name. Rex. 
We received the wrong report.

It has been a long week but absolutely better than the very first night when she died. For the past week, I've played it back in my mind over and over. Was there anything she could have gotten into? I asked my husband, "Did you leave something out when you painted Olivia's room?" Could a piece of onion have caused it? What about Olivia's Halloween candy. Maybe a kidney infection because she had urinary problems. What about bloat, maybe it was bloat? But they would have seen it in the stomach, right? On and on. I try not to do it. Logically, I'm smart enough to know it is a stupid waste of time and tears to try and figure out because I'm not a vet or a psychic. It is enough to drive one crazy.

And in a way, I'm paying for it. My face is completely red and burning, brought on by emotional stress. I went to see my doctor today and she gave me some topical ointment to help. The only problem, it smells like perm solution!!! It has helped (I think) but I'm not sure I'll be able to put up with it for the next several days until it goes away. I gave up perms in the late 80's and I don't plan on reliving that odorific smell. My daughter came home from school, hugged me and said, "What stinks!"

I have been doing whatever I can to try and feel better: The Oprah Network, movies, walking the dog, chocolate cookies. These are the things for any female to feel better. I watched Oprah's Lifeclass with Iyanla Vanzant about getting over guilt since I feel horrible about not taking Daisy to the vet sooner. The Oprah Lifeclass helped. I will never forget my mistake but I need to somehow learn to live with it. I will forgive myself and make sure I learn something from it. And maybe, my difficult lesson will be your salvation one day if your pet or child becomes ill and you have to make a decision to go or wait it out.

So I will carry on. I'm not sure when we are supposed to receive the necropsy report. I hope and pray to God that it will offer some clarity. Knowing our luck, my husband will receive another report next week only this time, for a dog named Duke or Mitzy. 

November 6, 2012


6 years ago
She really became Olivia's dog

Last night, our dog died. I tried to remember everything I told other people when their pets died to make them feel better: At least they knew you loved them. You were lucky you had many good years with your pet. Animals die so new ones can have homes. Blah Blah Blah. It makes perfect sense but when it's your own, especially the first night, it adds little comfort.

Sunday morning she just suddenly changed. She wouldn't eat a piece of bacon. She won second place out of 20 in a dog eating contest  (the only reason the other dog won was he was a mastiff) so we knew something was wrong because she loves to eat and then she threw up. And we waited. Those are the words which can change your life forever and put you in regret like nothing else can. Not knowing whether to take your child or pet to the hospital because it may pass on its own is a difficult decision. I guess it should always be the hospital.

Daisy threw up three times that day. We took her for two walks and although she walked slowly, she wanted to go. We thought it was a good sign. Her head hung low though and she didn't look like she felt well.  We almost took her to the emergency vet on Sunday night. We even called. But she didn't look worse. Was she getting better? We thought about the $1,000 dollar bill. We waited.

That night, she threw up again. And in the morning she threw up another time. We called the vet at noon and we could bring her in immediately. It was several hundred dollars and they did an X-ray and fluids. Something showed on the X-ray in her stomach. They think it was a tumor or diapers. (She had gotten into the dirty diapers before. Since then we changed the container.) An operation, $1500, just an estimate. The doctor was going to keep her to see if she got better with fluids while we figured out about the operation and blood panel. We waited.

We decided at 4 P.M. to take her to South Bend, three hours away to our regular vet to do the operation the next day. With seven pets before and a stray, all  over the age of 10 except one, the vet in South Bend gives us a discount. We see him regularly for our pets, for shots, for thyroid pills, for bladder pills, for check-ups. Our bill is large at the end of the year but we take pretty good care of them. Currently, our animal population was 7 plus one stray and is now down to 4 and one stray. (The stray is now ours because nobody will take him. Good homes are hard to find especially if a cat has FIV.)

We picked Daisy up at the vet in our town in Illinois and we were going to take off to South Bend, Indiana to our vet. We decided to come home first because if she died in the operation to open her stomach (we thought it was diapers) she would at least see her home one more time. We placed  her on the ottoman (she was all doped up on pain medications) and fifteen minutes later she had a seizure and died.

At least she didn't die in the car. At least she didn't die alone. At least she was home when she died. I keep telling myself this over and over to try to make the pain go away, to look at the fortunate side. It isn't easy and it barely works. We waited too long. Those words will haunt us.  For the life of me, I don't know what we were thinking because it makes perfect sense to me we should have brought her in earlier. It was the anticipated huge doctor bill, it was the long drive and mostly, it was wanting to shut it out and have everything be okay for once. Every year a pet has died.

Newton, our floppy-eared rabbit with a spirit of a lion,  died last year. We spent the whole night at the vet's making the decision. Will he get better? We were there when he received the injection.

Ghost, our cat, died the year before that. A  slow death of loosing weight, ten doctor visits, countless tests and never finding out why.

Sebastien, our son, died that year too. His bladder was blocked as a fetus, born at 8 months, died four hours later. Again, doctors couldn't tell us what caused it.

This year, Daisy. We had a necropsy done this morning and there was nothing in the stomach. No diapers, no tumor. Was it poison or a toxin? Did she eat something bad? Was it cancer? Was it old age because she was 11? Again, no answers.

We have four elderly pets left  (Emmy 12, Chewie and TIgger, 16, Mitaine, 12) and a 5 year-old stray cat we took in with FIV (Feline Aids) who is healthy but can go down easily. So who is it going to be next year? 5 our left. (I know this sounds negative but it gets to you. The first time, you get through it. The fourth time, it wears you down.) We have been given many deaths and always left with no answers as to what really happened to cause them.

Last night, we just couldn't stop crying. We should have had a better compartment for the dirty diapers. We should have brought her to the vet sooner. We ultimately felt like we had killed her. Today, we have some consilation she didn't die from diapers. But we are left with not knowing what it was and if we had brought her in sooner, could something have been done? It is hard to live with regret for things you do in your life you so desperately wish you could have changed.

So in honor of Daisy, kiss your pets or pat them on the head tonight, let them know you love them. You never know when the last day will come. I should have walked her more. I should have itched her back like she loved but I always had something to do. I should have greeted her every time I walked in the door as dogs wait for you to come back home. Yes, I gave her a pretty good life compared to the average dog. But I could have done more. We always think there is a tomorrow for things. We wait. And those words, whether it's with people or pets, will end up haunting every single one of us at some point in our life. Don't wait for tomorrows. Waiting usually ends with regret.

Update: We are taking her to get a full autopsy. You can get one at Purdue University for around $90 dollars. Some may think why, when it's not going to change anything. But not knowing why stays with you forever. Some can live with it, some cannot.

Goodbye Daisy